Comments for Different, Not Disabled: The Perception of My Mind

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Produced by Ian Kathan

Other pieces by WHJE

Summary: Aspergers, in my opinion, has always been misunderstood due to it being a medical "condition." When you listen to this, I ask that you go in with an open mind, and try to imagine the best you can. I promise I'll try my best to explain what it is like to be...well, me.

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thought provoking

this is a piece of real value. producer Ian Kathan strikes a thoughtful balance between a personal and social/cultural perspective. well done!

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Review of "Different, Not Disabled"

In a decidedly dignified tone, Ian Kathan addresses the treatment he receives being a patient of Asberger's Syndrome, defining the disease itself, and the social stigma associated with his disease. With a voice half adolescent exasperation, half knowledgeable from adult experience, Kathan tells of the modern society in which he lives, where anyone diagnosed with any handicap is immediately offered help and aid. He resists this aid, saying that if he had never had to struggle and learn, he never would have learned all that he has learned. He is unafraid to tackle the delicate subject of using a disability to garner sympathy or even leniency. He uses the slang term for diagnosed individuals, "Aspies" at 2:12, in a lightning-fast rant with little emotional investment- he is an Aspie, there's no getting around it. But in a stereotypical Brooklyn-cop sort of way, he's ready to acknowledge this fact... and move on to the next challenge.

Things to notice: Kathan has an extremely even voice (editing or simply skill?), elegantly paced, but has made the choice not to edit out any pauses, hesitations, or speaking irregularities within the tape. The effect of this is haunting, perpetuating the feeling that Asberger's Syndrome is ever-present in Kathan's life, no matter where he goes or what he says. kathan plays with editing to create an auditory sense of isolation, with voices layered underneath his own. He even pulls out an old editing trick I adored from "The Prostrate Diaries" at 2:10, where the narrator uses their own voice to personify the voice of the "Other", be it a crowd or one other person, for dramatic effect. This entire piece is so refreshing, the truth of Kathan's story leaking past any pretentiousness that young producers tend to fall into. This person has a genuinely important message to discuss very early on in life. What a gift.

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'It's Pretty Cool to be Me'

This piece is clear, thoughtful, with a take on Asperger's that I hadn't known before. Well done.

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A Note on Asperger's Syndrome

This is a groundbreaking piece by an extraordinary young man. Ian Kathan, who has Asperger’s syndrome, flies in the face of the conventional wisdom about his disability. In recent years high-functioning autism — Asperger’s — has been considered a “challenge” needing lots of help from parents, educators, and therapists. Rather than relying on the notion that he deserves special assistance and accommodation, Kathan is annoyed with this attitude of entitlement. He believes that people “on the spectrum” shouldn’t capitalize on their medical condition to make excuses for themselves and their failure. Instead, he believes people with Asperger’s should take advantage of their unique gifts. For Kathan Asperger’s is less a disability than an endowment, a sensibility that is profoundly different with distinct assets to manage.

My grandson David has Asperger’s. For most of his five years his mother — my older daughter — has devoted herself to finding help for him. Going to special doctors, enrolling David in special classes, feeding him fish oil, vitamins, and homeopathic medicines, she has imbibed Dr. Temple Grandin’s gospel that tireless vigilance and assistance are the hallmarks of cure for autism.

Considering this, it’s refreshing to hear Kathan think of Asperger’s as “the mind's tendency to . . . drop into a hyper-focused state. . . . While [Asperger’s is] a distraction, it can also be your drive.” Kathan speaks with his friend, the psychologist Pamela Christy, who agrees with him when he states, “If you give a person too much help, you give them extra exceptions to get by,” a sleazy modus vivendi.

Because of his refusal to make excuses for himself and say he has failed because of his disability, Kathan is able to savor his success: “Look at me. I’m on a radio station. Never in all my years have I ever thought that I’d ever be able to do something as big as this.”

Hats off to Kathan and Carmel High School in Indiana for producing a sound-rich, thought-worthy five-plus minutes!

One day I hope my grandson David will be able to join Kathan in saying, “It’s pretty cool to be me.”