Max's shop of horrors

Warning: imagination testing site. Enter at own risk

Month: February, 2015

Hijacking the hijackers

Last week, Autism Speaks celebrated  its 10th anniversary. This is an organization widely reviled by the autistic community for, among other things, not including anyone autistic in its decision making, as well as treating the condition like a plague and people with it as defective and a burden on society.

To pat themselves on the back, they spread the hashtag “#AutismSpeaks10” on Twitter, asking people to share their memories of what the organization had done for them. Naturally, those of us who are #ActuallyAutistic decided to let them know what we really thought of them, and the results were darkly glorious.

Ten years of demonizing my child and others like him. Ten years silencing adults.”

“Thanks, , for making yourselves filthy-rich by preying on vulnerable parents & wrecking the futures of vulnerable children.”

how dare you tell me this beautiful,clever,caring,kind,loving girl is a burden or a mistake.”

because when you can convince parents that being autistic is worse than being dead, the sky is the limit for financial gain.”

Before they knew it, this organization that had hijacked autism found their own self-promotion hijacked by the very people they’d screwed over. Poetic justice served with schadenfreude sauce. Bon Appetit!

Seeing the autistic community stand up for itself in such a passionate and organized way was nothing short of exhilarating. Our message was loud and clear; we are not passive victims, we have voices of our own. We are autistic. Hear us roar.

Confessions of an endorphin junkie

Dopamine and serotonin. Technically, the only two things you enjoy. They’re basically the “happy chemicals”, substances secreted by the human brain that make us feel pleasure.

As drugs go, they’re about as good as it gets; they’re on tap, they’re legal, they won’t give you lung cancer, and depending on what means you use to acquire them, they can be dirt cheap, or even free.

Of course, they’re also addictive as hell. And intentionally so; they’re our brain’s way of rewarding us for “correct” behaviour, like eating and having sex. (“Good boy, here’s your treat!”)

For a long time now, I’ve noticed I’m particularly susceptible to addiction. I’ve teetered on the brink of alcoholism among other things, and as I began deconstructing my thought processes, I realized that I was always looking for or counting down to my next “hit”, be it a cup of coffee, going out drinking, a new video game coming out, or even going on facebook.

It was always about the next glorious, orgasmic rush of dopamine or serotonin. The stretches of sobriety in between were almost painfully boring, spent frittering away the hours. In short, I was basically a law-abiding junkie. Even now that I’m aware of this, living life from one hit to the next is a tough habit to break. I have to remind myself to stop and make the most of the moment, instead of wishing time would hurry up so I can go home and indulge my latest addiction. To resist the urge to count down the days and hours until various milestones.

My brother calls it “wishing your life away”, and he’s right, because that’s the upshot: waking up one day to realize I’m 80 and I spent most of my life impatiently awaiting the next high.

It’s a bit like going surfing; sure, the thrill of catching a wave is awesome, but if that’s all you focus on, you’ll miss out on the simple pleasures of being gently rocked in the cradle of life.

Applications open for our first Teen and Young Adults camps of 2015

This week, a bit of shameless promotion, for those of you in the neighborhood of Victoria Australia who are on the autism spectrum or have a child who is.

With two stratospherically successful camps under our belt, the organization I work for, the I Can Network is revving up for our third and fourth!

First off, from the 13th to the 15th of March, our Young Adults camp (for 18-30 year olds) will be held, followed by a Teens camp (for 15-18 year olds) from the 1st to the 3rd of May.

Both will be held at the Doxa Youth Foundation camp site in Malmsbury, Victoria. It’s a fantastic location in the wilderness North West of Melbourne, and it’s well stocked with awesome ways to have fun, from a giant swing to a seesaw you can fit twenty people on!

You can get there by car, V-line train, or the Doxa camp bus from Kyneton train station.

Our camps are designed to foster confidence, acceptance, and mentoring relationships, so that today’s participants can become tomorrow’s leaders. Our organization is run by people on the autism spectrum, for people on the autism spectrum, so suffice it to say, we know our stuff in a very personal way.

The cost of participation is approximately $150, and you can register for the Young Adults Camp here: and the Teens camp here:

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at

Burning Wall

First of all, a dire warning… this is gonna be a political post!

That’s right folks, sharpen your pitchforks, and call that one guy with the wheelbarrow full of tomatoes who somehow makes it to every political rally. And now, a word from our sponsor:

To market to market went my brother Jim,

Somebody chucked a tomato at him,

Tomatoes are soft and they don’t bruise the skin,

But this one killed Jim,

It was wrapped in a tin.

And we’re back! I shall endeavor to keep this from getting as dry as a camel’s scrotum, but with politics, that’s a tall order, so


with me.

Within the sphere of autism advocacy there’s a lot of conflicting views; the most notable is perhaps one I’ve alluded to many times, the issue of whether it should be treated as a disability. This branches off into a wide array of touchy issues, that tend to polarize people; pre-natal testing, medication, etc.

Healthy discussion of these issues is a good thing. It gets a bit thorny, however, when lines in the sand start being drawn in the sand; you’re with us or against us, it’s us vs them. This approach tends to drown out nuance beneath generalizations and absolutes.

Many people who are on the spectrum find it insulting to be referred to as disabled, yet many others feel that their difficulties should be acknowledged, that it is unfair to ignore the challenges they face. Similarly, while some oppose medication and other forms of therapy because it implies curing a disease, for others medicinal assistance allows them to function at school or in the workplace where they might otherwise be overwhelmed.

Here’s my issue; why the need for mutual exclusivity? Why can’t we acknowledge that many people with autism have it tough, but at the same time highlight the condition’s many positive attributes? Why can’t be explore both medical and sociological solutions to the challenges that can come with autism? Why can’t we help people with autism to adapt to society, and help society to accommodate people with autism?

I think some people are too eager to turn this into an ideological war when it doesn’t have to be.

Personally, as I’ve said countless times, I believe that autism is a matter of being differently abled, rather than disabled. But at the same time, I think medical intervention can be an invaluable aid in coping with its more difficult aspects. I don’t see this as hypocrisy, because I don’t see why I should have to “pick a side”.

I don’t see it as sitting on the fence either; my goal is to tear the fence down.

The Pen and Paper Power Trip

One of the perks of being a writer is you basically get to be God.

It’s every megalomaniac and control freak’s wet dream; make your own world, make your own rules, manipulate and toy with the characters you create like some kind of trans-dimensional puppet master. And best of all, there’s no pesky ethical guidelines to spoil the fun, anything goes!

It’s like a cheap alternative for those of us who don’t have the wealth or a posh enough accent to be a James Bond villain.

Of course, that’s not why we do it. We’re gentle, kind people, honest. It’s not like we derive perverse joy from messing with the hapless denizens of our private universes.

And it’s certainly not like we’re practicing to actually take over the world one day. No, don’t be silly, all those pages in our browser history about how to poison someone, hire a hit man, or acquire nuclear material, that’s all just research for our completely fictional stories, nothing more.

You know,that’s who the real villains are? Those publishers who get in the way of us distributing our subliminal messages to the innocent peoples of the world who so desperately need to be taken by the hand and led into a glorious future under our benevolent dictatorship. They’re doing to free speech what CGI did to the Bananas in Pajamas, and they should be held accountable for destroying the childhood of a generation of Australians! And what has the government done about this? Nothing!

*Twiddles pen made from the metacarpals of the last publisher to reject my flawless masterpiece*

So yeah, if you know of any publishers, would you kindly leave their contact details so I can send them my work for appraisal? And only my work, of course, not bribes, threats, mind control gas, or anything like that.

Thanks in advance, Earthlings my fellow homo sapiens.