The curious incident of the bigot in the Senate
By Damian Smith
I’ve been reluctant to comment on Pauline Hanson’s noisome remarks regarding autism and schooling. Like wildfire her vacuous bigotry requires oxygen and I am loath give her the attention she so desperately desires.
However, there are times when one must stare into the abyss.
I have what was once known as Asperger’s Syndrome, now coalesced into the all-encompassing autism spectrum.
I’m one of what Hanson calls ‘those people’.
I’ve built my career around being on the spectrum, on de-stigmatising a condition that doesn’t render you inferior – just different. I’ve tried to make myself an example of achievement, that being on the spectrum doesn’t limit you and can in fact empower you, that you can be ‘normal’ if you want to be, but more importantly that there’s no need to be normal at all.
And in this capacity it is incumbent on me to retort.
I also went to a public school. One with something of a reputation. A school that stands to gain a lot from the Gonski program.
School was a brutal experience. Aside from the regulation systemic bullying, there were the problems stemming from lack of funding. Our classes would regularly contain over thirty students, sometimes two to a desk. Half of our classrooms were temporary demountables, lacking heating in the winter and pushing 35 degrees in the summer.
Hardly ideal conditions for learning in the formative years of your life.
In this post-apocalyptic hellscape of a high school were students held back? Were students denied the attention because of the disruption of their peers? Of course they were.
Were the students causing these disruptions the ones with special needs? Absolutely not.
In my experience it wasn’t the special needs students who were the problem at all.
The problem was the idiots.
The racists, the xenophobes and homophobes; the kids who were terrified of anything different, who translated that terror into anger and violence.
Does this sound familiar, Senator Hanson?
The disruptions in maths class did not stem from an autistic tantrum. A child with autism can find comfort in numbers, in the honesty of mathematics. He doesn’t yell and throw paper demanding to know when he’ll need to use algebra in ‘real life’ (hint: it’s always). That was left to the so called ‘normal kids’.
No class was ever cancelled because of an autistic child not grasping the fall of the Wiemar Republic, however there were classes cancelled because a group of boorish thugs stole a Muslim student’s taqiyah and passed it around while chanting ‘we grew here, you flew here’ (the student in question was born in Randwick).
No science class was held back for an autistic student needing to ‘feel good about himself’ but a biology lesson resulted in a class wide detention when a student was pelted with sheep hearts because his peers suspected he might be gay (he wasn’t, he just participated in Rock Eisteddfod).
So from my admittedly anecdotal experience is it the special needs students who are holding the rest back? No. It’s the ones who were weaned on ignorance and hate who were the problem. The ones whose parents praised One Nation during its first inception, before Pauline Hanson’s myopic monomania had resolved into a weathervane for things she’d read on breitbart.com that morning and leaned more towards a general hatred for the greater humanity.
But now, more than ever, there is a pressing need for those with special needs to actually feel … special. Because when they look at Pauline Hanson they see a bully winning. They see that the student who doesn’t get the point of the lesson and vindictively disrupts the rest of the class can grow up and become a senator.
I’ve never held back anyone’s education. I value knowledge and learning above all, and I encourage it in everyone. But our students are being held back by those that don’t prize learning, those that see education as a chore and a prison sentence and lash out at anyone seen to be enjoying the experience.
Those like Pauline Hanson.
So take it from me, Senator Hanson. Autistic kids aren’t a detriment to the standards of education in this country. I should know. I lived it. But if I ever need an opinion on dropping out of school at 15 because of unprotected sex you’ll be the first person I call.
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I just love it – you have summed up the Australian culture’s ignorant, idiotic, bully mentality so perfectly.
I’ve been astonished several times to hear people boast that they have never read another book since leaving school, something that they took pride in…
Thank you for expressing this so well. I took a nasty, malicious enjoyment in your concluding sentences. Given a few years, I may well be ashamed of myself for it.
Thank you for your excellent post. It would be nice to post it on Pauline’s FB page, then again will be a waste of time.
What you are saying about your experience at school it also applies to those with ADHD and not to mention to many with physical disabilities.
All of them are victims of bulling which it is a product of lack of education by their parents and teachers.
Good schools should educate the children since the first day and should not accept under any circumstance bulling or discrimination agains any other person be children or an adult.
Glenn Barry, I would not just put Australians on that category, it is world wide and not only in the above cases but also with the sick or color of their skin.
The ones above, the minority that govern love this because provoke disunity.
Damian, I wholeheartedly agree. My experience in school was the same.
Glenn, not just Australia. That bullying thing is a standard, worldwide, human trait. And yeah, I’ve been astonished by how many people happily admit to not reading books. Holy mother of dog! One of the things I love most about computers is that I can (and do) now carry thousands of books in my purse.
We all think we wouldn’t be the one to bully another, but the truth is, we don’t know. It’s normal for humans to bully. The famous experiments by Stanley Milgram, Philip Zimbardo, Jane Elliott, and others proved that. Trump rising to power proves it. Hanson getting into the Senate proves it. BREXIT proves it. Abu Ghraib proves it. Police brutality proves it.
It takes knowledge, empathy, and deliberate effort to frame your mind in such a way as to make it difficult to succumb to the temptation to bully.
That’s one of the things that scares me most about the politicians’ desire to gut education and re-introduce old-style standardised testing. It institutionalises bullying again after it took us centuries to nearly kill it off.
I fully understand, Damian – at least for someone not on autistic spectrum (or so I believe).
I was on the the ‘skinny, shy & crap at sports spectrum’, then I made matters worse for myself when my grades improved (I began regular school attendance due to improvement in physical health) and was considered a “brain”. Yes, I know, too funny.
Bullying doesn’t end after school either; Pauline Hanson doesn’t know when to stop.
This is a very relevant article. I wish Pauline Hanson would read this but I don’t think she will. I’ll tweet it and tag her.
Unfortunately, annecarlin, I seriously doubt she reads. If she did it’s unlikely she’d be the bigot she is.
No harm in trying though…
Pauline thinks she is being victimised.
“Last night I went on The Bolt Report to defend myself from the wave of attacks coming from the politically correct crowd and those who wanted to score a few cheap political points. I’m glad that this has helped shine a light on what is obviously a very important issue but I imagine you’re getting just as sick of the lies coming from the mainstream media as I am.”
I read your whole speech Pauline. It was riddled with things that were just downright wrong. If you are going to use your public platform to speak out then at least try to get the facts straight. We don’t need more ignorant hatred.
Like you, I don’t want to give this woman oxygen. My son also has Aspergers and he has achieved despite the difficulties life has dealt him. Whether Hanson actually believes what she is saying or is simply using it to keep her name in the media, is unclear. I suspect it is both.
The last book that PH read was womans day.
ONCE AGAIN HANSON IS GETTING FREE PUBLICITY: The only bad publicity is no publicity. The way they engineered her into the Senate is by shoving her in Australians face every day leading up to the election and when it was called she got millions$ worth of Free Publicity . What everyone should be doing is sending her to Coventry -turn your backs on her -if no one talked about her from now to the next election she would be gone. Every time you see her in printed media phone or write to them next time they are promote her you will cancel subscription if there is an add near where she is mentioned ring up the advertiser and say you cannot do business with them as they Promoting the slag -they will soon call advertising manager who will call editor and same with Radio and TV call the advertiser. But Australians won’t as they do nothing that is why the Country is a mess and Parliament is full of crap or arseholes or whatever you would like to call them.
I have had many kids like you, Damien, in my classes before being different was possible without an understanding teacher or a ‘protector’.
Anecdotal: Before I broke into a correspondance school hide-out, I was an Deputy in two high schools, a boarding and a day school.
When bullies appeared in my office they were of two major types.
Type 1: big, stupid and unaware of their offence ie being what to them is smart or carrying out the instructions from the other type of bully”
Type 2: the smart, nasty boy (rarely a girls) who almost always gets away with his nasty behaviour.
I was a bit soft and the victim of a type 1 under a type 2 if I was praised by the teacher copped the weekly flogging.
The meetings with the parents of these bullies typically showed a sad mother and role model.
I was extremely lucky with my classes of 30-25 because the troubles were ordinary kids having a day off(with large classes the ‘day-offs’ were often but the kids had something within whilst bullies have missed out on something.
Then it seemed simpler to see a bully but now the word confuses we oldies. So may we see the word differently but unlike pauline we see difference as positive and sharing as educational.
Sadly, one Aboriginal boy was abused at the boarding school and to my shame I didn’t give him the non-classroom protection he deserved and the night must have been horrific.
True Activist, ignoring Pauline Hanson only works if everybody, or almost everybody ignores her. They won’t. The irresponsible, shallow, mass media lap up her “contentious” statements and spread her across the airwaves and over papers and magazines.
Other people must speak sense against her or there will only be her one-sided crap. Having her speak alone with nobody calling her out for it is even more dangerous than raising her profile by being forced to point out her mistakes and lies.
I am truly sorry to hear how many of my peers here, people I truly respect, suffered at school or have had to endure the heartbreak of seeing their children bullied. It should not be that way and we, as teachers, failed you. I wish I could say with confidence that things have improved. I have met many amazing teachers in my time, and some real shockers who were struggling to cope. Every experience in life, negative or positive, teaches us things. Are we capable of learning that hatred and fear can only make things worse?
As for Pauline reading things, she didn’t even read her own book
ANDREW DENTON: Pauline Hanson’s ‘The Truth’, the book you published in ’97…
PAULINE HANSON: Which one?
ANDREW DENTON: Pauline Hanson’s ‘The Truth’.
ANDREW DENTON: Do you remember that book?
PAULINE HANSON: Um… ‘The Truth’? It was… Yeah. That was written by some other people who actually put my name to it.
ANDREW DENTON: And you launched it and had the copyright on it. The interesting thing about that is it had at the front some of your speeches, which were legitimately yours, but then it also included material written by people connected with very extreme right wing groups who said things like Aborigines were cannibals and that Australia would one day be part of the United States of Asia, part of a conspiracy to exterminate the white Anglo-Saxon males. Did you realise that these things were being published in your name?
PAULINE HANSON: No.
ANDREW DENTON: How did that happen?
PAULINE HANSON: Like I said at the time, there was so much happening with the media and you just cannot do everything yourself. You just cannot sit down and read every book or every article or know every candidate that stood.
Always out for a buck, our Pauline.
Kaye, you do not have to feel sorry, we all are learning in this life and become wiser with the years.
The only teachers and families that have failed are those that know the symptoms, that know about bulling and do not do nothing about to protect their job.
I was in the receiving end 60 years ago or more not as a victim of bulling but for other reasons and do not blame anyone because their lack of knowledge was not their fault.
She is just another politician using ignorance and fears
To keep herself in the headlines for a few more years
She’s changed her targets and honed her shtick
Appealing it seems to the angry and thick
Who is to blame for the reconstitution
Of this populist shrew with no real solution
Somehow I think it’s much more complex
Than a simple appeal to some racist rednecks
The fears that she taps are as old as mankind
Held in the darkest recess of the mind
Exploited by shysters for thousands of years
To garner support from gullible ears
Australia had come a very long way
From the days when white racists held the sway
From Menzies to Fraser and Whitlam to Keating
Saw the country progress and the racists retreating
When Howard was facing near certain dismissal
He developed the art of the racist dogwhistle
there was Tampa and kids overboard
And 9/11 ensured that he scored
Ever since then the cards been in play
Assylum seekers, Asians, Muslims the prey
An ugly, divisive, inhuman distraction
Fuelled along by the media’s attraction
And while this ugly game has been played
The stupid emboldened the enlightened dismayed
The rich have got richer the poor not a scrap
Laying more fertile ground for her populist crap
She’s in the game for the power and the money
as cunning as a rat in an outside dunny
Perhaps it’s a good thing she’s got enough rope
To show us that hate can’t win over hope
An excellent response, Damian, though I don’t understand the meaning of your last sentence. But I agree with other respondents that this woman’s utterances should be ignored – all of them. They are not worth any attention at all from anyone, being vacuous, thoughtless, ignorant, ill-informed and mindless.
Pauline: “Last night I went on The Bolt Report…” Well, the thing is – Bolt’s show is one of the worst-rating programs on Australian TV.
Has she considered blackface? In her caper, public profile is everything. According to this…
…The Bolt Report (52,000 viewers) got roughly 1/5 as many eyeballs as Shaun The Sheep (234,000 viewers).
She’s already pretty good at making the bleating noises, so she’s halfway there.
Nice way to question her praise by the turn of your phrase.
Thank you Damian, on behalf of my gorgeous Aspie son. He was never labelled as that at school because I knew that would mean years of more name-calling than he experienced because he was obviously different. Fabulously talented writer, but couldn’t manage algebra if his life depended on it. High School Science teacher told me “If he concentrated in class he would do better”. Well, no, no he wouldn’t – because maths and science were like a foreign language. Not just the other KIDS who can be bullies.
He worked with it, he created his own persona at school to get through, he managed other students in his own ways.
I recommend that everyone reads LOOK ME IN THE EYE by John Elder Robison and then tell me that autistic children shouldn’t be in the mainstream.
We need to have kids like PH and her ilk in separate rooms so they don’t spread their filthy attitudes to anyone else. Maybe they would gradually die out.
Fantastic response, thank you.
as for bullying…[well i was a small girl approximately 5 and half years old] came to Australia as a refugee after the 2nd world war.when i started school i could not speak English but could speak Ukrainian, Polish, Russian and bits and pieces of German and Italian.WELL I COULD SAY HELLO GOODBYE THANKYOU AND a few more phrases. but need i say more? the bullying did take place it felt like the whole school was against me. chewing gum was stuck in my long hair, my clothing was torn, my face was slapped with jeering by the girls and boys. “go home wog! balt! BLOODY NEW AUSTRALIAN GO BACK TO WHERE YOU COME FROM! [and there was afreckled red headed bitch that started this abuse] I came home from school [on a daily basis with my hair pulled out, bruises from where the kids hit me, my school uniform in tatters.but when my mother went up to the school to find out why i was being treated like that the head master told her to go away learn English before you set foot here again.[SHE SPOKE IN BROKEN ENGLISH AS BEST AS SHE COULD.. now i see those kids were growing up to be just like Pauline except for some of the girls married into the European society. TO THE HORROR OF THEIR PARENTS. . HA HA HA. English first names and polish italian and other surnames now.i look at it andthink KARMA?no not karma they grew and learned that we didnt have two heads we were just like them.humans. not to be bullied and pushed around.
f#ck you Pauline Hanson!. for being such a horrid face of Australia. most people are not like you anymore but you are opening up new wounds.YOU CANNOT BE ALLOWED TO BE SEEN BY THE REST OF THE WORLD AS A “TYPICAL” AUSTRALIAN. you are a terrible example of hoof and mouth disease.
its people like you who start wars.
and now you have lowered yourself so low not even a good limbo dancer could go as low as you. picking on kids with syndromes.I am now 73 years old and still get referred to as that new australian. i have lived here since 1949 i dont have an accent except for an australian one.68 years i have been here and this is my home.my parents worked and died here.
my kids were born here
Wonderful post, Damian, love it. And as always , there’s the bullying, you only need to be slightly different from the main crowd and there it is. My daughter got bullied because she was taller, slimmer and blonder than anyone else. Somewhere else she would have been regarded as beautiful….
Thank you Natalia for your post, a very sad experience indeed.
I come in 1969 and the worse bullies (in the work force) were not the Australians but the uneducated English blue collar ones who regarded Australia as their land and treated everyone including Australians with arrogance and not respect.
They were the most racists of the lot.
To the Australians I used to tell them that I come here by special invitation of the Aborigines ( just to make them think about it) and that was enough to keep them quite.
I will never tolerated bulling but then again I was 23 years old and not a child in school years.
Brilliant, Damian. A wonderful read from a wonderful person.
That’s funny, I came here in 1969 as well being 10 or 11 I was too dumb to be bullied and my best friend during that time Colin was an Aboriginal.
Damian, thank you for sharing that with us. It was a great article.
As a former kid with a disability I can confirm what this author wrote, that it isn’t the disabled that engage in systemic bullying and class disruption, it is the “normals”. Or what this article refers to as : “The racists, the xenophobes and homophobes; the kids who were terrified of anything different, who translated that terror into anger and violence.” Sadly that was and is the “normal” in our society. The deviants are the compassionate, the empathetic, the community oriented, the “leftists” (or as the “right” calls them the do-gooders – because that is supposed to be an insult). ??
Having said that and sometimes I was once desirous of being separated, it really never works. Having a school that deals with the issue would be better, except that I went to a private school. (More on that in a moment) Segregation of children on any level doesn’t work. As a western nation which once boasted of free education for it’s population, the growing restriction of education to the people has had consequences for our labor market and our capacity for understanding. Howard changed how education was funded by allocating considerable funding to private schools and undercutting public schools. Students drifted away from public schools to the better-funded private schools, where they could afford the luxury. The public school system was left with a community of poorer demographics with less time or capacity for higher education and an increasing inequality of educational results.
Interestingly bullying became more prevalent in Private School and less so in public ones. The difference is who is the client? In Private Schools it is the parent, who doesn’t want to hear that their “Johnny” has a bullying problem and the school does not want to directly confront their source of their finance. In the public system it is the government and more directly the children and so bullying is handled more directly with the child causing it. Certainly my experience as a parent nowadays.
But back to the eventual effect of Johnny Howard’s funding for separation. The social class division between the affluent and the underprivileged then began at school for children. Two decades later the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) survey shows Australian children falling behind in education. Segregated our schooling system by either academic, remedial or social class boundaries have been largely to blame for our children’s poor performance. Our ranking for investment on the OECD league tables for education is 22 out of 37 in the OECD. Integration within educations/schools is what advances everybody for the realities of dealing with a society that has to integrate. Segregation does not allow for a full set of skills of dealing with people at every level and produces poor adult integrators with poor people skills and a poor empathy for understanding integral differences. Which pretty much explains the sort of poorly integrated society we have now. Pauline Hanson is for aiding the further disintegration of a diverse culture to one that fears the unknown because they have never experienced any relationships with people with different ideas, religions, culture and abilities. In short, Pauline Hanson voters.
I’m about the same age as Hanson so she would have been read the story of “Little Black Sambo” in Infants School and been told about the aborigines being a dying race and only ever saw them as Jollife cartoons – never in real life.
She would also have witnessed the traditional racial abuse of wogs and dagos (plus the rest) if there were any at her school. She may even have participated – who knows – but her mother was shown to be very aware of “the yellow peril” during a documentary so that particular seed has been planted.
Even her ex-husband flagged her as a racist during an interview before he was slapped down with a restraining order.
She would have also lived through the Apartheid era and seen the inherent brutality, unfairness and misery it created for so many.
I like to think that most of us grew out of those things as our education continued throughout our lives but she seems to have been trapped in that past or is trying to relive those misguided days of ignorance.
At best she’s deliberately trading on that contrived stance in return for popularity or money – or perhaps both.
Let her speak – the more she talks, the more we can see what she really is.
Well done Damien ! As a father of an ASD boy I’m worried how his future schooling is going to pan out.Currently he has Awsome support network at school but our area hasn’t rolled out NDIS I’m hoping things don’t change .to the worse,
As if I Can get a positive out of the blurbs from #stupidredheadednazi is that she is helping spread the word about Autism ASD.
Hopefully we can get rid of her and she go. She can go back to cooking her fish and chips
Keitha Granville when my son was diagnosed with being on the spectrum we also read “Look Me In The Eye” and ” The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night time” the later I read to my year 7 students too. Having taught Special Needs children I would always say to my aides we are dealing with the ” disability” not with the behaviour.They are separate. Most of the parents complaining about special needs students I have found were the ones with little or no understanding of how different kids can be, and passing their prejudices onto their children. And I totally agree with Damien, that the majority of badly behaved are those students in whose homes education is not valued. My saying? ” Those who do do, and those who cant muck around”. I look at Pauline and I see the latter.
You just made a man cry Damien. A beautiful well summarised article.
As a proud Australian Muslim, after reading your heartfelt words, I chant Allahu Akbar (God is Great) for people such as yourself.
May Allah bless you.
Thank you for this post Damian Smith.
Natalia, what did the teachers do about bullying ?
Well said I could not write anything that good. I have all my life had two problems first is I always feel embarrassed around people who are different. I actually feel guilty that I am suppose to be normal, second what is normal. I look at other people Like Hanson and think that cant be normal, I am nothing like her.
Well written Damian. I have Asperger’s too and my memories of school are similar to yours. The disruptive kids were neurotypical, didn’t seem to like school, didn’t achieve good grades and liked to bully anyone who was different. One that I recall was later diagnosed with a mental illness (I am unsure whether that was his underlying problem at school) and in his 20s he died in a mental health facility.
I have enjoyed reading all the comments as much as I did Damian’s article.
Well done everyone, keep the stories coming, we can see who is human and who is the bully, Pauline.
‘The article and comments are showing what a beautiful people we have in this site.
Thank you Damian all all those that are participating in the topic,
I went to a pretty good selective public high school, with a very diverse mix of students (even back then)… there wasn’t much bullying, or many fights after school. I recall a young chap in our year who spoke just like Jeannie Little, who was clearly gay (before we really knew what it meant) – but nobody had a go at him about it, although I did observe a bit of an “outsider” with a very prominent scar on his face, closely monitoring any banter towards this student, lest it be interpreted as bullying. The penny dropped a few years later when we saw him loud and proud on his way to the gay mardi gras, and he told us that was where he was bound. We wished him a good night.
If I cross paths with “the protector”, I’ll let it be known that I’m still proud of him.
In primary school I was the only friend of a fatherless aboriginal boy, who was quite effeminate due to being brought up by his mother and a great aunt. I know he did OK in later life.
Thanks for an insiders view Damian. Teachers really have their hands full managing all of the opposing forces within classrooms these days, not to mention the stresses that parents of children with ASD, ADHD etc must be having. Hopefully extra funding can help teachers and parents manage better outcomes as I see this as a whole of community problem. Watching politicians undermine the education system as described above by John Haly is no fun. When are some intelligent people going to be allowed to run this country?
So well put.
Intelligent people will not run this country untill they apply for the job until then the a-dolts will.
Great article! I believe that a lack of funding for things like teachers’ aids disadvantages those at the high functioning level of ASD who may have trouble learning because of their altered perception of the world, but it’s the ASD kids who are affected not the “normal” kids. For someone like the author differential treatment would most likely have been beneficial too, but via extension work which could make use of his special skills. Hanson is an idiot and a bully and one of the people who would have been the real problem.
Sorry but I have to ask what defines an ASD kid. Is it either they are or they are not (black or white). All kids are dysfunctional in one way or another and will exibit learning difficulties in either social or academic areas until they are thought that is why they go to school. Also all of them learn at different speed don’t they.
If I may share this with you. Many years ago I had a big argument wiith one of the company directors, another approached me after this and told me not to worry as cream always rises to the top to which I responded that in this cesspool something else does.
I have learned that arguing with a ‘superior’ is a bad career move while being satisfying to one’s self respect. I am very much a failure in the corporate world and I don’t care.
I was the same diannaart , I refused to put myself at lower level just because their position in the company.
As the mother of a spectrum kid thank you Damian! You have assuaged my anger of the last few days very eloquently. Brilliant writing and that last line – what a kicker! I hope Pauline reads this but some of the words you use are a bit long so she might have trouble!
I was there for 20 odd years with increasing level of managment after that.
You successfully communicated with higher management. That happens for some, for others, standing their ground, not so much.
Everyone is entitled to an opinion,just because you don’t like hers doesn’t make her a bigot and just because your on the spectrum does not mean your opinion is the only one that counts.
One would hope that our politicians would get informed advice before they shoot their mouth off. Pauline repeats anecdotes like they are evidence eg her very dangerous comments about vaccination. She is in a position of great responsibility. Most of what she says is totally irresponsible.
IMHO they are informed but like to create division in the population.
Disunity make a weak majority specially in Australia when is AKA the “silent majority”
While it is true that some children need specialised schools, it’s not true of the majority of children who experience learning difficulties or have intellectual challenges.
My two eldest children are now in high school. Each of them went through primary with a child in the class who was on the autism spectrum and displayed significant learning problems…and it had no negative impact on their education.
In fact, they both believe it helped them to understand the problems that people who have disabilities are faced with.
Knowing the parents of both children for those six years, it was wonderful to hear them talk about how, despite fearing their child being bullied and friendless at school, their children had been supported by their peers, included in parties, play dates and outings and had made and kept friends.
It was a positive experience for their children and mine.
We are raising our children to be accepting of others, compassionate and thoughtful.
They think it’s ‘normal’ to have people with different challenges in their life and part of their community.
I’m proud that they were part of a school cohort that was supportive and positive towards children who are different.
You have made the point Hanson and her ilk completely miss – whether it is intentional or they really are that ignorant. Either way, Humanities 101 for politicians needs to be the first learning experience in parliament… well, after telling them where the toilets are, I guess.
To the parents of children that have been labeled as being different with some form of so called f $#ing ASD, your children are NORMAL it is all the other children and THEIR F $#@UP parents that have a problem. Why on earth do you have to justify your existance.
Brad, yes, people can have their opinions. The kind of opinions they hold indicate what kind of person they are. Pauline Hanson’s opinions show her to be a bigot. That’s a matter of simple definition. That is what a person is when they hold intolerant, bigoted opinions.
For example, you can’t argue that although someone believes in superstitions that they’re not superstitious. It doesn’t make sense to make that argument. It’s like trying to argue that black is white.
Pauline Hanson is a bigot. She defines herself by her spoken opinions. It has nothing to do with anybody else’s opinions. In my opinion that she’s also a fool. I could be right or I could be wrong. Maybe she isn’t a fool. I could be wrong in my opinion. But it isn’t opinion that she is a bigot. She sets that definition of herself as soon as she voices bigoted opinions. It is simple unalterable fact.
We really are an interesting bunch here at the AIMN.
So many views of so many issues, and yet here we are, all being supportive of difference not just among ourselves, but among those we each know and attempt to introduce to our fellow travelers.
I am blessed to be accepted in this place.
“We are raising our children to be accepting of others, compassionate and thoughtful.”
Patrick,I bloody well hope so as many of today’s adults are not. The present Government and its supporters are proof the that.
I watched Jane Hutcheon interview Gillian Triggs; it was disgusting how badly she was threated by the Coalition…no need to mention asylum seekers, or many of the poor and the suffering Australians…
I’m eagerly waiting for Empathy and Compassion to emerge… 🙂
THIS WOMAN REPRESENTS THE SILENT, IGNORANT FEW…. I think its good those people have a spokesperson because the ignorance can be aired and debated…
I’m a third generation Aspie, the father of several Aspies and grandfather of even more. I was bullied through primary school (6 schools), but popular through secondary school and in my years studying at five tertiary colleges and universities. My father was a policeman and former soldier and a champion boxer, so I quickly learned to stand my ground — but I never did learn very well how to curb my acid tongue when provoked. (As a professional wordsmith I’m still occasionally bothered by misuse of language — such as “Autistic Spectrum” instead of Autism Spectrum… the spectrum has never been diagnosed as autistic to the best of my knowledge. Sorry — couldn’t resist! 😀 )
I was 57 when diagnosed in 2002. My Mum was in her 80s. My youngest daughter was told, at 15, that she’d be unlikely to finish high school because of her poor organisational skills. She graduated last year from a post-graduate program in Opera to add to her Bachelor of Music (Classical Voice) the previous year, from WAAPA in Perth. She built an independent life for herself on the other side of the country, with no family nearby, and kept herself financially and in every other way. I am immensely proud of her achievements. She’s hoping to complete a Master’s degree in London in the next year or two. To my knowledge, she never held anyone back in any class at any level.
My only son took himself off to the the USA in 2001 and built a successful career in makeup and body-painting, which he also teaches internationally. The only expectations we ever had of our kids was that they should be happy, well-adjusted, responsible, kind and generous individuals who were good to be around. All of them have achieved that, in spades. All of them are intelligent, but understand that a high IQ is no substitute for common sense and courtesy.
We’ve also learned a few important things about Autism as well… the first being that, if you ever want to know where your child’s Autism came from, the best place to look is alongside your co-parent in a large mirror, not in a vaccine phial.
As for Pauline, I agree entirely that she should be put on an attention-deficit diet immediately to help treat her special needs.
John Counsel, I would have loved to have you in my class… :)i
20,000 have read this article so far (and that’s just here, probably many more as it has been widely shared) and it continues to rise every hour. Congratulations Damian. You have made a very significant contribution to the national discussion.
I also thank the commenters for their personal contributions which so vividly demonstrate Hanson’s ill-informed ignorance. Her fear of difference poisons her and stops her from appreciating the potential of this country and its people, whatever our differences may be.
Hi John Counsel, re your comment about where Autism came from, you say:
“the best place to look is alongside your co-parent in a large mirror, not in a vaccine phial”.
Not sure what you mean here, do you mean it’s environmental/nurture or genetic/nature?
Yes indeed, Kaye. It was a fabulous result. Damian, take a bow.
[She would also have witnessed the traditional racial abuse of wogs and dagos (plus the rest) if there were any at her school]
[Hopefully we can get rid of her and she go. She can go back to cooking her fish and chips]
Probably drawing a long bow here – but I wonder if the fact she ran a Fish and Chip shop and was not a wog polarised her. When I was young it was mainly Greeks who ran fish and chip shops, so she may have begun to resent this correlation, may have begun to seek to distance herself from that correlation.
[20,000 have read this article so far (and that’s just here, probably many more as it has been widely shared) and it continues to rise every hour]
20k….could just be a handful of autistic folks with OCD tendencies constantly refreshing the page 🙂
I’m being flippant as I view the article as purely anecdotal – although it is a good point about the negative education affects of bullying versus those within autism spectrum. I see Asperger’s as generally being not adequately different to bring about consistently heavy bullying. 45 years ago when I was in Primary School, within the discipline regime in place back then it may not have been noticed that much in classrooms.
If Hanson was including ADHD in her attention seeking – the classes would end up half empty these days.
By the way, with all the talk of bullies what is the viewpoint if the bully has ADHD.
If you are looking for a bully with ADHD there is Tonny Abbott or does he only have ADD now. The odd thing is Malcolm T. is developing it or did his medication stopped working. Sorry, don’t intend to offend individuals with the real thing.
zoltan, that two man among many other in the team do not have any mental health issues only have a blocked conscience.
Interesting Freethink, would you say a rapist has a blocked conscience or a mental health issue.
Is it right to fight bullying with bullying? I’m not sure you have fully grasped what simple minded Pauline was getting at. As a parent of an asperger’s child myself, we have experienced all that you mention in the mainstream education system, the ignorance, the bullying and the injustice that came from students, teachers and principals alike. What I got from Pauline’s somewhat inept approach at this subject was that the mainstream public education system is ill equipped to handle special needs children. This has nothing to do with the fact that the special needs children are not a negative influence in the classroom, it has everything to do with the poor education system and the poor commitment from many of the ‘career only’ teachers it attracts.
Zoltan, my post was with the intention of not put that two characters in the same category of those that suffer some kind of mental disorder but at the same time have moral values.
It will a degradation comparing good people to members of the Turnbull team.
I am not a doctor Zoltan but I guess that some rapists have the two problems, mental health issues plus blocked conscience.
You claim you have built your whole career around being retarded, exactly what career do you have? It appears you wasted your time at school and probably contributed to the behaviour of other students while the teachers spent most of their time dealing with you.
Congratulations, Wayne. If there is a prize for the most imbecilic comment it would have to be awarded to you. Aspies aren’t retarded, you dick. Without aspies it is doubtful humanity would have progressed beyond caves. Aspies tend to become our scientists and engineers — the smartest people in our civilisation. The retarded ones are those who are unable to recognise and appreciate diversity is one of the great strengths of human society.
“Aspies aren’t retarded, you dick”.
Love it, Miriam.
Thank you Miriam. My 3 Aspies who “wasted their time at school” consist of a Degree in Marine Biology, one with a 12 year career in the Navy with two tours to the Gulf, and one with a PhD in Molecular Bioscience. The latter “time waster” now completing her degree in Medicine. Oh dear..and Wayne is supposed to be “normal”…
Carol, you forgot to mention your husband. ?
You mean your good self with 3 degrees and an IQ through the roof. ?
When Dutton’s refugees are doing their English test (for citizenship) , do they have to know what an Aspie is; or will they be sent back where they came from, if they think that aspie is short for aspirational…?
Carol, we’ve had two winners this morning. Wayne has won the prize for the most imbecilic comment and your comment above wins the prize as the most brilliant comment ever published on any site since the invention of the internet.
And the prize? You’ve won a night out with the blog master.
Congratulations and well-deserved.
Michael, I’ll be accepting that prize with pleasure. Now what does Wayne get? Same thing? ?
Good to see Whine is back. I wonder if he’ll ever recover from his father’s work?
The problem as I see it with Whine and his like minded non-entities is they have been inculcated with a lack of ability. Of any sort.
I’m glad we get to see the likes of that little arse-grape. It gives us a better perspective of life in actuality. I would counsel though, that dicks are a very useful part of the anatomy. I doubt Whine has ever done anything useful based on his posts from LNP headquarters over the last while.
@Helvitnyi, I thought the shortened term was “Inspie”. Most people on the spectrum I know, are inspirational.
SSM, I see Pyne as fluffing around trying to create some sort of relevancy for himself. In fact he is entirely representative of the blandest, least inspiring government in the history of bland and uninspiring governments.
Re my earlier question to John Counsel as to whether ASD is environmental or genetic, it seems likely to be environmental. I have done a bit of reading and the increase in cases of ASD and ADHD are too extreme in my view to be genetic: http://www.autism-adhd.org.au/autism_prevalence
70 years ago, chances of having ASD was 1 in 25000. It is projected to effect 1 in 50 by 2020.
How has a disease increased by a factor of 2500 times in less than a century? It must be environmental.
I’ve found a number of explanations but none that is overarching them all. I will post once I’ve done a bit more research. The cost to the individuals, families and community is great, including lost opportunities to reach ones’ highest potential and $ in treatment. This cost could be reduced if there was an effective diagnosis program in place across schools. Re comments by Wayne, s/he sounds like a troll.
It is because people like Wayne that we have One Nation members in the senate.
Just to think that in the polls they have 9% intention of vote depress me.
typo on ASD increase, should read x 500 times in less than a century
Carol, Wayne will give his winnings to his boss, Pauline. Enjoy Michael… 🙂
Sir Scotch, I bet Hanson does not know what an Inspie is, nor does my spellcheck, I’m in good company… 🙂
helvityni, wouldnt be surprised if wayne is pauline of one troll notion
Owen 70 years ago ASD was put into and included with all sorts of things or not even diagnosed / recognised.
Wayne, the term autism arose from studies of really really smart kids.
In 1943, American child psychiatrist Leo Kanner, M.D., published a paper describing 11 children who were highly intelligent but displayed “a powerful desire for aloneness” and “an obsessive insistence on persistent sameness.” He later named their condition “early infantile autism.”
In 1944, a German scientist named Hans Asperger described a “milder” form of autism now known as Asperger’s Syndrome. The cases he reported were all boys who were highly intelligent but had trouble with social interactions and specific obsessive interests.
As I have mentioned before, my daughter is an early childhood teacher who is working with several kids who are on the spectrum. Yesterday she was so excited. A few kids were playing with some toy trucks and one of the ASD kids came over and just sat near them watching. When daughter asked what he was doing he said “I am waiting for my friends to finish so I can have a turn.” This is a huge breakthrough in so many ways. I am so proud of him and so proud of my daughter for the help she is giving him. These kids aren’t “retarded” (whatever that means). They may need some help with social interaction but there is not a child in the preschool who doesn’t need help in some way or another.
Owen, this is a good link regarding the research on the causes of autism.
I have Aspergers and I have an autistic son, whose intelligence blows me away at times. He is 30 now, but I will always remember something he said when he was nine.
I was telling him about the Big Bang (he loved astronomy) and that whilst I could grasp the beginning of the universe I just couldn’t grasp the concept of “time”. Before the universe there was time. After the universe is long-gone there will still be time. “When it began,” I said to him, “and when it ends – if it could ever have an ending – were beyond my comprehension.” He looked at me and said, “Have you ever considered that time could go backwards?” Wow.
Unfortunately, as talking isn’t one of his strong points, it was one of the few conversations I’ve ever had with him.
But there was another one. The theory of the Big Bang, the size of the universe and the number of stars it contains were simple for him to grasp (at nine years old), so I thought I’d fire a question off to him.
“How many brain cells do you think I have?”
With a serious look and without hesitation he answered; “Two”.
I laughed then, but the years have proved him correct.
It was good that your son saw the good in you back then Michael. I originally thought I had a bunch, but then along came Thai whisky and that was the end of them. My kangaroo laughs whenever I try to converse with her now, so I suspect she has stopped all pretense of trying to make sense of what I have to say.
My grandson was three or four years old when his other grandma passed away after a long illness.
“When I come to that spot (the dying), I’ll jump over it and will live forever.”
For three year old Supermen everything is possible, got to love them for their positivity… 🙂
I, for one, would not call Pauline ‘a retard’….because that’s just an ugly bulling word, only worthy of the ‘Wayne’s’ and Pauline’s.? of this world…BUT then there’s the Malcolm Roberts types and their non-p.c. existences
…oh the dilemma I face ……palm
When I was just a boy (jesus was just a spotty kid down the street kicking the blown up pig bladder around with his dipper around his knees) where was I … yes … I was told not to say anything unless it was good about the person … so … I will never ever say anything again about the stu…id fuc…ing useless waste of a bu..lit individuals Pauline (put a paper bag over your head in public with a muzzle) and her ‘get better dentures’ Robers.
As a teacher, her comments made me furious, as a mother, her comments made me feel physically ill for those mothers with children on the ASD spectrum and as a Human, her comments made me embarrassed to share DNA with this atrocity.
I put forward that we the tax payers should withhold her pay until she apologises, I am sick and tired of politicians being able to say whatever they want and never being held accountable.
Thank you Damian Smith, well said. Being a grandfather with two grandchildren on the spectrum I am appalled by Hanson’s remarks.
Sorry to say this Linda but under our system before you apply a penalty the offendor needs to know about it before they commit the crime. For the penalty to exist it needs to be made the law either by the court (great cost to an individual to get it there) or to be legislated by politicians. Since politicians are the worst offenders I don’t see them legislaing. In fact politicians have argued for eliminating laws that prohibit people like PH saying what she said. But this gives you the right to judge her since it is your opinion (AND I AGREE WITH YOU).
A superb article by Damian Smith, who analysed the real disrupters of classroom learning brilliantly and accurately. I also agree with his sentiment to give as little oxygen as possible to the pea-brained and borrowed utterances of Hanson. She receives far too much of that from the media who love exploiting it for clickbait and ratings purposes.
But the comments and life experiences of so many here have added to the whole richness of this post. How much we can learn from listening to those around us! It’s encouraged me to reflect a little at 75 years. I suspect I had a mild Aspergers Syndrome issue which remained undiagnosed, albeit I was tested for hearing issues because of my wandering attention in classrooms despite my scoring top marks in tests and exams.
Classroom sizes in the early post-war years were up to 50-60, often with temporary accommodation (in 1951 we were housed in the RSL hall). Often small groups from other grades were included. So it was a huge challenge for teachers, most of whom coped and one was exceptional. Oddly, although bullying did occur it was never a major issue. Country people at least then had a sense of fairness and decency. There was a need to conform generally, however, and I learned not to show off my talent in class. I knew even then that I was different, viewed as odd and naive, and subject to teasing. It didn’t bother me, except that intuitively I despised bullying and usually ended on the side of the victim. But I never considered myself one.
I was lucky to have three older siblings who protected me against after-hours attempts at bullying. I didn’t realise it at the time, since I could fight back myself in most situations, partly due to their teasing me at home. Their views of me were similar: odd, a dreamer, but a prodigy of whom they were proud, even if in need of protection.
I learned more about myself through raising my daughters, the second of whom was a replica of me in so many ways. She was a greater talent than I was. especially in any form of the creative arts plus maths and even science, albeit her interest was mostly just in the challenge. She was even more uncompetitive than me, which left her vulnerable. A brilliant kindergarten teacher recognized her prodigious skills (she was literate at 4 years and sensational in her art work) and also her complete void of social integration skills. She recommended a second year at kinder (it was before Kennett’s slash and burn) and it was the best thing for her development.
I feared that she’d be teased and bullied at school but she was always at ease with herself and others, again like me helped by her older sibling who had charismatic talent, loved her dearly and mixed easily with anyone. Like me, she hated bullying and helped those in need.
She didn’t fare well when her older sister went to Uni in Melbourne while she completed high school. But it was not the school but her controlling mother that was the problem. My ex-wife had mental health issues of her own which she refused to get help on. I guessed these to be manic-depressive. She had high energy and was a loving nurturing mother but had an obsessive need to control. Later in life I discovered she had the classic components of an abusive person who destroyed or attempted to destroy relationships independent of her immediate control. It was impossible for my younger daughter who was such a gentle soul.
She loved going to Uni in Melbourne but mostly because it got her away from her mother’s control. She went badly in her studies because she couldn’t escape her mother’s ambitions, and became a train wreck in handling her affairs as she sank into depression. In the hands of her boyfriend, met at college and despised by her mother, she has gradually made a recovery thanks to his caring extended family. She has found content in developing her knowledge and skills in growing herbs and developing craft skills and talents. She has potential for much more but needs to go at a pace which suits her need for safety and love. I only have limited contact with her now, albeit harmonious, but I know she’s in safe hands and she has gradually improved her contact with my extended family and with her wonderful older sister.
Thank you for your insightful story, GD1.
Fact is we all develop at differing rates and have different innate talents, regardless of how our brains are wired. Would Hanson have segregated everyone into little cubicles?
I used to pretend I had an older brother, as the eldest myself, painfully shy, I did not handle bullying very well. A pattern was set and, even though I can defend myself very well now, the local bully in the workplace would always manageto hone in on me.
I do recall one incident at high school… One year, I found to my horror, that my locker was directly below one of the worst of the ‘tough’ girls. Being shoved and forced to wait before I could load/unload books became routine until one day, when BG (bully girl) was chatting to her cronies with her hand lingering in her open locker. I knew she would just keep on talking and I had had enough. Her locker door was wide open and on the side I was standing, I found myself (without really thinking) reaching up and slamming the door on BG’s hand.
She shrieked and immediately was surrounded and consoled by her gang. I proceeded to open my locker outwardly calmly, even though my heart was doing a slam dance in my chest. I also worried about what would happen on the way home – going home was often the most dangerous time for bullying victims. But nothing happened. I was never beaten up in revenge. In fact BG was very friendly to me from that day on. The tough girl gang still persecuted me, but not BG. Now, I do not like violence, I do not believe it is the way settle anything much. But that day it worked. I have never physically harmed anyone before or since that day – I felt sick after I slammed that metal door. I do not understand why BG became more of an ally – maybe she just realised I am human too.
An interesting, perceptive and clearly written account.
Thanks for that very powerful and very personal piece, Damian. As a semi-retired secondary teacher I can relate to much of what you have said.
I would also say that I have reached the stage in life where I can often find some validity in what different people say who are diametrically opposed to each other. In this instance I can see some possible value in the view expressed by Pauline Hanson and certainly I can see plenty of validity in the many points that you make.
I have always been a supporter of academic streaming in education. By that I mean for example, in each year at the lower-mid secondary school level, there should be separate classes for the academic ‘high-fliers’ progressing down to the useless trouble-makers whom you so eloquently describe in your essay. This is the system that I grew-up with and knew as a student myself.
It is simply wrong that the students who are more intent on interrupting the class than learning anything should be allowed to disrupt the learning opportunities of people like yourself who wanted to learn.
I also believe that it may be necessary to have a student with a disability that prevents them from gaining any meaning kind of education at a mainstream school, to have the opportunity of being educated at a special needs facility.
It seems that you take Pauline Hanson seriously. You have evidently taken her comments personally. My suggestion Damian (for what it is worth, and I acknowledge that that is probably not much) is not to let her upset you. I would rather interpret her comments as being of a similar nature to mine.
Dear Robert Reynolds, it appears to me (a simple person) that you believe a teachers job is to teach what you think is required for all rather than teach what is required by the kids in your charge. Authority and responsibility is not to dictate BUT to guide and inform. To teach is not to assist the good ones but to help the ones with problems.
Zoltan, thank you for your reply.
Zoltan, from one simple soul, (me) to another, let me assure you that even when I have a class full of ‘first-rate’ students it can be difficult enough getting through the syllabus. I will offer assistance to students who have problems whenever I know about the them and the student is comfortable with me offering to assist.
However, I see my first role as being a teacher and not a school councilor or welfare officer. These are roles which are best left to others who have received specialist training to deal with students’ problems. I am trained to teach in my subject area.
The difference between your comments and those of the Queensland senator is the evidence of education displayed in erudition, your command of more than 2nd hand anecdotal experience, and the clarity and rationality of your viewpoint.
Your summation addressed the issue that students repeatedly displaying/perpetrating disruptive behaviors, whatever the ‘diagnostic cause’ (be it autism, tourettes, ADHD, fetal alcohol syndrome or simple crap parenting) should be isolated from the serious pursuit of academic achievement, as well as the fact that some children with non-disruptive but asocial conditions (eg some types of autism) may require a special-need/isolated learning environment, additionally incorporating the concept that accelerated learning should be actively fostered in special programs.
Pauline Hansons comments on the other hand, true to form, merely advocated mandatory, punitive measures that would arbitrarily isolate anyone diagnosed with autism from mainstream education, even if they were a model student, whilst providing no solution for non-autistic students who habitually disrupt the learning of others.
Yep, surprise, surprise, Paulines knee-jerk ‘solution’ was to propose narrow-minded, prejudicially discriminatory legislation.
The subject of accommodating specialised educational needs requires serious discussion, but, on this topic as with most, the inputs of the leader of the PHONeys are a ‘contribution’ of less than phuq-all worth. .
Thank you for seeing what I said Robert. As a teacher you are entrusted as a defector second parent and as such you help the chield that falls over not the one that runs around.
Hi Zoltan, it has always been my approach to try to help all of my students, whether they ‘fall over’ or ‘can run around’.
In fact, generally speaking, if someone needs some assistance it is the humane thing to do to assist where possible whether they are a student or an adult, as long as you are not being taken advantage of.
My initial comment to you Robert was because I picket up something and I do not believe you knew you reflected the point. Simply put goverment institutions are required to service the needs of all without judgment and private institutions are allowed to discriminate. What Hanson was proposing was to allow public ones the right to discriminate as well.
Pauline Hanson took it too far with her biased, ignorant comments which make most neurotypical Australians look and sound biased and ignorant.Harsh? Well, after too many years at school putting up with bigoted students and teachers
(mind you, bigots are made, not born), I consider any ableists (hello,
Mr. Joe Hildebrand, who doesn’t like the disabled catering to his typical “neurotypical” needs. Oh, boo hoo hoo, poor little diddums!) a waste of time and the only way to handle them is to boycott any show or newspaper where their smug self-serving facades or horrid
toxin-laced words make an appearance. To put it bluntly, I wouldn’t wipe my backside on anything Ms. Hanson or Mr. Hildebrand had to say in any publication. A friend once gave me a piece of advice that has stayed with me: “Some people are not worth worrying about.” Obviously that includes those I have mentioned above, as well as any other neurotypicals who believe using certain words which sound blasphemous to all those with disabilities is simply: “All in good fun.” Sure. The only way these types will ever learn is if they’re afflicted by disability themselves. It happened to Christopher Reeve AKA Superman, so anyone is susceptible. No one is bullet-proof, despite what the popular belief is.
Yes, we can imagine the loud protests of “What about me!” if they (Hildebrand, Hanson, and the rest of their nasty ilk) were stricken with some illness that left them disabled in some fashion. Their direction would turn about 180 degrees in a heartbeat. For them it has always been about them, and screw anybody else. They would have fitted in beautifully with the Third Reich. “Handicaps go to the gas chambers fourth door on the left, past the homosexuals, the blacks, and the Jews.”
You can’t help the times you live in. That’s the way past crimes against the disabled are explained.
But what upsets me is the glaring fact that society hasn’t moved past this bigoted attitude which prevails in those like Hanson. Ableism needs to be called out the same way other forms of discrimination are. If it’s not okay to be racist, sexist or homophobic, then it’s not okay to be ableist. And giving dangerous antipsychotics to the autistic is a crime in itself. Something the inhumane psychiatric world has been doing for far too long, all for the sake of the perks involved in plugging Big bad pharma’s medications, which can include free lunch everyday and overseas trips. So it doesn’t matter to them if a patient on a particular medication dies, as long as the doctors get their kickbacks.
Oh, yes- ableism goes all the way to those in positions of power and authority, which isn’t right. If I have to keep speaking out against such types until it’s made right, then so be it. This “war of words” will continue.
Pauline Hanson isn’t the first neurotypical ableist bigot who has upset people with her words or actions, nor will she be the last. I have since discovered that the man Aspergers syndrome was named after had a hateful past. He betrayed the very ones he was supposed to be helping to the Nazis, who then had them put to death. Unbelievable.