Pattern Recognition

Allistics are truly the worst at pattern recognition.

This weekend, I attended AllCom, my first all-allism conference, with Al Jr. and Alia.  The kids really loved the huge quantities of social interaction available with other allistic kids (even if their running around playing tag did seem to disrupt a few of the hotel guests), and I loved having the chance to meet so many of the wonderful participants in the allism blogosphere.

But.

AllCom has been around for some 25 years now, and it continues to suffer from the grave misfortune of being run by allistic people.  Who, of course, have severe deficits in pattern recognition, coupled with a pathological need for constant verbal reinforcement of their individuality.

During the conference, one of the non-allistic presenters was inadvertently assaulted by flash photography.  Since the presenter has epilepsy, this was, of course, a potentially deadly risk for her.  She had seriously considered not attending, since a similar assault had occurred at previous AllCom conferences.

Nevertheless, the allistic conference leadership managed to talk her into making the flight by offering to pay for it.  They also explicitly promised that there would be rules preventing flash photography, that it would NOT happen, and that if it somehow did happen, the photographer would be expelled from the conference.

As it turned out, the photographer was never told about the rule (allistics tend to be as bad at follow-through as they are at pattern recognition), and when he found out about it, he apologized profusely.

The conference’s allistic leadership, however, were unable to be nearly as decent or accommodating – the combination of severe lack of pattern recognition and pathological individuality-mongering meant that they kept insisting on being seen “as individuals,” rather than addressing the clear (and dangerous) pattern established.  Our hapless presenter, realizing that stereotypes are harmful and that there is fairness in treating people as rational individuals, had taken the allistic leadership at their word, only to be tripped up once again by their severe disability.

Honestly, it’s surprising how low-functioning most allistic people really are.

At one point, it got so bad that the presenter had to break it down to kindergarten language: “I don’t trust people, only patterns.”  This is so obvious as to be hardly worth saying in normal company…but, of course, the people with allism who were leading this conference are hardly “normal.”

I can only hope Al Jr. and Alia’s development wasn’t set back too badly by this.

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