Abusing the DMCA Take Down Notice Process

DISCLAIMER:  This blog article does not constitute legal advice, and is not to be taken as legal advice.  In all matters of a legal nature, discuss these matters directly with an attorney or solicitor licensed to practice law in your community.

Over the past three to four weeks, a self-proclaimed leading UK autism campaigner has been caught in a controversy of his own making.  He has stated for years that he doesn’t believe that vaccines cause autism.

A few months back, he became one of a number of Admins for a popular anti-vaxx Facebook page where the members believe that vaccines cause autism.  He was made an Admin in part because of his social media friendship with the founder of the group (who also runs an autism organization), and in part because he began to support their views.

He also promoted the Andrew Wakefield movie “Vaxxed” which claims that vaccines cause autism, and purports that the CDC is involved in some sort of conspiracy.

He posted three videos to the group in June stating that no one was going to “bully” him into quitting as an Admin of the group.  Another video was posted the previous month promoting his own 20-minute movie about being bullied at age 10 that was to be filmed over 6 days in August (which is now being filmed over three months from August through to October).

But was this UK autism campaigner being bullied on social media as he claimed?

What was going on is that other vocal autism advocates were asking questions, and his response to them was to threaten to sue them for asking those questions.  So some of those vocal autism advocates made videos that showed the disparity in what this autism campaigner had said.

This past week, the autism campaigner has been filing DMCA takedown notices claiming copyright infringement because the videos provide actual proof of what he said in different videos.  He has then posted screenshots from YouTube, stating that any more “copyright infringement” will result in the offender’s YouTube channel being suspended.

YouTube DMCA
Unfortunately, the autism campaigner doesn’t seem to have an understanding of what is and isn’t allowed by the Copyright Acts in various countries, including his own country.

Regardless of what country’s Copyright Act is being discussed, they all include a “fair use” clause that allows portions of a copyright to be used for the purposes of criticism, news reporting, teaching, or parody.  This clause allows people to reproduce, distribute, and exhibit  specific portions of copyrighted materials without authorization of the copyright holder(s) and protected from prosecution for copyright infringement.

Fair Use Clause
When uploading written or recorded works or commentary to the Internet, it’s important to note that having a portion of what you have written or recorded used in a derivative work that’s covered by the “fair use” clause isn’t what DMCA take down notices are meant to address.

For those autism advocates who have received DMCA take down notices on YouTube for your videos covered by the “fair use” clause in the Copyright Act, simply reply to the notice by stating you have followed what is outlined in the “fair use” clause.  The strike against your account will be removed, and your video will be available for viewing once again.

Elyse Bruce

OTHER INTERESTING ARTICLES

5 Arguments Against Buying Followers
https://elysebruce.wordpress.com/2016/05/10/5-arguments-against-buying-followers/

A Case Study: Fake Followers Can Break You
https://elysebruce.wordpress.com/2016/05/17/a-case-study-fake-followers-can-break-you/

More On Fake Followers
https://elysebruce.wordpress.com/2016/05/24/more-on-fake-followers/

When Bullies Fake Follow Themselves
https://elysebruce.wordpress.com/2016/05/31/when-bullies-fake-follow-themselves/

Breaking Down the (DMCA) Takedown
https://elysebruce.wordpress.com/2015/05/12/breaking-down-the-dmca-takedown/

 

Internet Mudslingers

DISCLAIMER:  This blog article does not constitute legal advice, and is not to be taken as legal advice.  In all matters of a legal nature, discuss these matters directly with an attorney or solicitor licensed to practice law in your community.

The Internet seems to be a sort of virtual Wild West with mudslingers shooting at will and digital sheriffs being stretched in their efforts to keep the law in the land of the nebulous cloud and the seamless source.  The future of the Internet is uncharted when it comes to these mudslingers and their posses.

Doxing is when someone’s personal information is published on the Internet and contacting employers and/or businesses employing that person is made to defame, libel, or slander the person.

It’s an approach that, while unethical, isn’t always actionable.  When the information shared is publicly available information, the intent of posting the information determines whether it’s actionable.

Publicly available information

For example, information that’s in the phone book isn’t doxing if it’s republished.  If you don’t want that information made available, then you have to take steps to protect your information.

Lessen your digital footprint

Contact all businesses and organizations that might have your personal information publicly available, and request that the information no longer be made available.  In some cases, this means you will have to provide alternate contact information.

Each time you play a game or answer a quiz online that requires you to give consent to a third-party accessing your information, you’re leaving yourself open to your information being spread far and wide.   Every time you post on consumer feedback sites, search engines crawling the Internet will catalogue your comments and reviews even if you go back and delete those comments and reviews at a later date.  Those cookies that you agree to when you visit a website or blog?  Those cookies are mining your data with your consent.

Bottom line?  Use the Internet with the “buyer beware” caveat at the forefront of your interactions, and where possible, try to erase your digital footprint to date.

Alternate contact information

Instead of having your physical home address listed, provide a mailbox address instead.  Instead of having your personal phone number listed, provide a cellphone number that isn’t connected to your physical home address.  Of course, when it comes to government forms, you’ll still have to provide them with your physical home address but most government forms allow users to include alternate contact information where you can be contacted.

Doxing is illegal

Actually, it isn’t necessarily illegal, although it can be.

People consent to doxing

Technically speaking, each time you have allowed your private information to be published, you are consenting to have it republished elsewhere. It doesn’t matter if it’s in a phone book or a membership directory or anywhere else on and off the Internet.

When it comes to websites, sometimes the Terms Of Service are such that you don’t even realize you are surrendering more than you thought.  Some Terms of Service state clearly that your information is sold to third-parties.  When’s the last time you took the time to read the Terms of Service of a website you visit?

Each time you have registered for an account on a website – whether it’s a free or paid account — you are providing the website with your private information.  Some of that information is information you knowingly provide, and some of that information is information you have consented to provide by agreeing to use the website.

Watch the free stuff

Even those great free or discounted offers leave you open to providing more personal information than you might otherwise provide.  Have you ever answered a small survey for a fast food restaurant so you can get something for free the next time you visit?  You give up a lot of information in exchange for that free good item.

Most of the small surveys automatically opt you into databases and you probably don’t realize you’ve opted into those databases.

Reputable businesses don’t do that

Except that reputable businesses usually do exactly that:  They gather your personal information with permission and then they share that information with other companies.  When you register a product or file a product’s warranty with the manufacturer, you’ve agreed to have the company not only contact you in the future, but to sell your information to third parties.  Surprise!

Last but not least

The use of P2P networks is one that’s been discussed on this blog a number of times.  I don’t condone illegal downloads.

Networks rely on connections between computers.  They don’t make a pit-stop at a server where the information is stored.  Networks open the uploader and downloader to each other which is implied consent to make personal information available to each other.

Final Note

Doxing seems to be the wave of unethical angry people with a bent on wreaking revenge for some real or perceived slight.  As much as possible, don’t give such people a foothold into your life.

Keep your own business website and/or blog as dox free as possible, and remove attempts by commenters to post toxicly on your sites.

In a nutshell, posting publicly available information isn’t illegal per se, but if it’s protected information, the charge could wind up being one of identity theft or criminal harassment or stalking.

Elyse Bruce

Traffic Stops and Autism

Last weekend in Burbank (California, USA), a traffic stop resulted in the typical cry of police brutality.  A 16-year-old teen who was a passenger in his mother’s car became combative when the vehicle was pulled over and the officer spoke with the mother about the teen not wearing his seatbelt.

It wasn’t long before the mother ran to the media claiming that the family was “crushed” because the 16-year-old had been tasered by police during the traffic stop.

It sounds relatively straightforward in reading some of the shorter reports, but once the details are considered, the situation is straightforward but not in the way you might think.  Here are the facts based on the audio recording from the device he police officer was wearing at the time.

The car was pulled over because the verbal, high-functioning autistic 16-year-old teen wasn’t wearing his seatbelt. His mother’s excuse to the police officer was that she was in a hurry to get to where she was going, so she didn’t tell him to put his seatbelt on.  However, it’s the law in California (as it is in other states in the US and provinces in Canada) to wear seatbelts when in a vehicle, and it’s been the law for a long time now.  If a minor doesn’t know the law, it’s up to the adult in the vehicle (in this case, the 16-year-old’s mother) to make sure that he’s buckled up.

During the traffic stop, the teen was arguing aggressively with his mother. Please keep in mind that the officer’s job is to serve and protect, and part of that job sometimes entails protecting a mother from a 16-year-old son.  Undoubtedly, the officer took into consideration that the teen may or may not have mental health issues thereby explaining his approach to the situation.

Next, the teen argued aggressively with the police officer, telling him that he wanted to fight the officer “hand-to-hand.”  The officer chose to disregard this threat and to deal directly with the mother in a non-confrontational manner.

As the police officer explained to the mother that it’s the law for everyone to wear a seatbelt while in the vehicle, the teen interrupted the officer several times using inflammatory dialogue (as shown by the audio recording of the traffic stop). Rather than escalate the situation, the officer simply warned the mother, and decided against issuing a citation.

That’s the officer deescalating the situation.

The officer asked the teen to buckle up.  The teen said he would but only if the officer walked away.  So the officer stepped back from the vehicle and the teen did, indeed, put on his seatbelt.

That’s the officer further deescalating the situation.

However, the teen then removed his seatbelt and told the police officer that he was going to fight the officer “right now.”  He kicked the car door open into the officer’s legs.  The officer continued to deescalate the situation by not going on the offensive.

The teen dared the officer to call for back up, and directed the police officer to pepper spray him.

Obviously the police officer didn’t want the situation to escalate, and at that point, he chose not to pepper spray the aggressive teen.

The teen followed up with punching the officer in the upper body and in the head.

Now some people in the autism community are saying that the verbal, high-functioning autistic teen probably didn’t understand what was going on.

Kahn 1
Except that we do know that the teen isn’t so severely affected by autism that he doesn’t understand it’s the law to wear a seatbelt in the car.  We also know that it’s not an unwritten law that says “don’t attack the police.”  It’s a real law.  The charge for attacking a police officer is usually “Assault on a police officer.”

In any case, the attack on the officer put the officer in the position where he had to protect himself (because an incapacitated police officer and a violent teen regardless of a diagnosis of autism or a lack therein is a dangerous mix).  It’s at this point that the officer pepper sprayed the teen.   The pepper spray had marginal effect on the teen who continued to punch the officer multiple times.

Rather than pull his gun on the teen, and rather than place himself in a position where the teen could gain control of the officer’s gun, the officer tasered the teen to subdue him.

Again, some people in the autism community insist that perhaps this was a case of self-defense and that the teen’s actions were warranted.

Kahn 2
While there may be the rare circumstance where self-defense against a police officer is a viable and acceptable defense against assaulting a police officer, that doesn’t seem to be the case here.  In fact, had the teen buckled up and stayed buckled up, his mother would have been allowed to continue to their destination with nothing more than a warning from the officer.  There was nothing that would support the claim that the teen was defending himself against an assault by the police officer.

Based on audio recorded facts, the teen appears to be in the wrong, and using his autism as an excuse only places others with autism in danger of being stereotyped as “dangerous” and “violent” because they, too, have a diagnosis of autism.  We’ve seen this happen more and more often, and more and more often the media now speculates on whether a mass shooter has autism.

Remember that the police officer was willing to let the mother drive off with a warning provided that all the occupants in the vehicle were wearing seatbelts.

Remember that the teen decided to blow the situation up into an assault against the police officer.

Remember that the mother then went to the media, crying about the way her son was tasered with no mention about how her son provoked the situation.

And lastly, remember that autism is not a “get out of jail free” card to be played at will.  Just because someone feels entitled to do as they please doesn’t mean they can do as they please, even if they have a diagnosis of autism.  Laws exist for a reason, and usually the reason is to keep society as a whole safe from harm.

Elyse Bruce

Pokémon Gone Dark

While the Pokémon GO rage winds its way through more countries (Canada being the latest one to see the game rolled out to its residents), the darker side of Pokémon GO is making its presence known.  While the game itself is quaint, the criminal aspects that some players bring to the game are anything but quaint.

What’s more, many of the criminal aspects that are being brought to the game are blown off by those who seem to be addicted to the game and who seem to be addicted to catching all the Pokémon they possibly can.

Perhaps you think those of us who don’t embrace Pokémon GO are negative nellies who are unable to allow ourselves to flow with the whimsy.  That’s not  it.  It’s because we can see the many inherent dangers into which players are plunged.

One of the two Pokémon GO players arrested in the Toledo Zoo break-in told the media, “It wasn’t the most responsible thing but, hey, gotta catch’em all.”  You read that right.  Twenty-five year old Robin Bartholomy justified the illegal action she and 26-year-old Adrian Crawford were arrested for and charged with was excusable because “hey, [you’ve] gotta catch ’em all.”

Forty-two year old registered sex offender, Randy Zuick, thought it would acceptable for him to play Pokémon GO with a minor in Greenfield (Indiana).    I guess he forgot that he was a registered sex offender … or maybe he didn’t forget and he saw opportunity knocking and no one guarding against people like him.

One mother was devastated to learn that her 2-year-old son’s memorial site was tagged as a PokéStop in the game.  Her son died in 2004, and when she learned that his memorial was being desecrated in this way, she told the media, “It’s very disrespectful. The memorial is on sacred ground, it is at a church and it’s a very inappropriate place for people to be playing video games.  My mum still goes to that church, and it’s a place people can go and remember him in a positive way and in a peaceful way and this game is making it very disrespectful.”

Meanwhile, back in Edmonton (Alberta), the residents in one subdivision are dealing with dozens of people trespassing on their property, leaving unwanted garbage behind, and carrying on at all hours of the night and day.  As with the toddler’s memorial site, the memorials for fallen soldiers are also being disrespected.

Out in Vancouver, Bayshore Tower is also dealing with Pokémon GO players showing up at all hours of the day and night, and disrupting the peaceful enjoyment of the residents who live in the tower.  With up to fifty Pokémon GO players showing up at a time at the tagged PokéStop, residents are being forced to deal with unwanted, unwarranted noise.

As for the East Vancouverite hashtagged #grumpyoldman on social media, he’s not that old (being all of 38) and he’s not that grumpy.  His yard was tagged in the game as Pokémon Gym so he’s dealing with far more Pokémon GO players than anyone ever should!

He’s been accused of hating autistic kids because he dared to put up a sign telling Pokémon players to stay off his property.  Then he found out that  because he suggested on his sign that the age of majority players go the “bar up the street and around the corner” with the added suggestion they “have a beer, and seriously think about [their] life choices” that he was pro-alcoholism.

Social media commenters made him out to be a miserable human being with no sense of whimsy and an even smaller sense of what it takes to be a caring individual.  Except that the yard they were trespassing into is a gated property where the landlord grows vegetables for residents in the building.

Pokémon players were tramping all over the plants (effectively destroying the garden) that he planted and tended, and that fed people he cares about.   No place is safe from Pokémon GO.  Officials at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto stated in a hospital statement released to the media that the game creates safety concerns for young patients admitted to hospital as well as impeding staff who are working.

And finally, there’s outrage at the U.S. Holocaust Museum and at the 9/11 Memorial in New York City, at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington (Virginia) and in Auschwitz, and in a great many other places where Pokémon GO players are so disrespectful as to play Pokémon GO.

Say what one will about how ‘fantastic’ and ‘awesome’ the game is, but lurking behind all that lies a darker world that’s larger and more nefarious and more soul-destroying than one can imagine.  Not for all, but certainly for a far larger segment of society than what we should be comfortable with in the first place.

Elyse Bruce

SUGGESTED READING

AUSCHWITZ BANS VISITORS FROM PLAYING POKÉMON GO
http://globalnews.ca/news/2821255/auschwitz-bans-visitors-from-playing-Pokémon-go/

BC MOM DEVASTATED TO LEARN SON’S MEMORIAL SITE USED AS POKÉSTOP
http://globalnews.ca/news/2832757/Pokémon-go-bc-mother-devastated-to-learn-sons-memorial-site-used-as-Pokéstop

DIGITAL AGE MR. McGREGOR CHASES POKÉMON FROM GARDEN
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/Pokémon-go-sign-james-roy-angry-get-out-of-my-yard-stayoffmylawn-grumpyoldman-1.3683504

EDMONTON RESIDENT FRUSTRATED BY POKÉMON GO TRAFFIC
http://globalnews.ca/news/2831696/that-is-ridiculous-edmonton-resident-frustrated-by-Pokémon-go-traffic

POKÉMON GO MEET ENDS IN SEXUAL ASSAULT ARREST
http://globalnews.ca/news/2833370/Pokémon-go-meet-ends-in-sexual-assault-arrest/

REGISTERED SEX OFFENDER ARRESTED AFTER PLAYING POKÉMON GO WITH MINOR
http://globalnews.ca/news/2823342/registered-sex-offender-arrested-after-playing-Pokémon-go-with-minor/

TORONTO’S SICK KIDS HOSPITAL TELLS POKÉMON GO TRAINERS TO PLAY ELSEWHERE
http://globalnews.ca/news/2833650/torontos-sickkids-hospital-tells-Pokémon-go-players-to-play-elsewhere/

TWO POKÉMON GO USERS ARRESTED FOR BREAKING INTO TOLEDO ZOO
http://globalnews.ca/news/2827416/gotta-catchem-all-two-Pokémon-go-users-arrested-for-breaking-into-toledo-zoo/

VANCOUVER MAN’S ANTI-POKÉMON GO RANT GOES VIRAL
http://globalnews.ca/news/2830422/vancouver-mans-anti-Pokémon-go-screed-goes-viral/

3 Things To Do When Slighted

Giving credit where credit is due is something that many people seem to overlook these days whether it’s in their professional lives or their personal lives.  It was true when Samuel Adams wrote “give credit to whom credit [is] due” in a letter on October 29, 1777.  It was true when Jesus told his disciples [Matthew 22:21], “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”   It’s still true today.

Very recently I saw a situation of giving credit — or actually not giving credit — where it was due, and I’m observing how this poor decision is playing out in the business community.

What happens when due credit isn’t given

In the immediate future, the person who didn’t give due credit will benefit from that action, and the person to whom credit was due will go unnoticed for their efforts.  In other words, if anyone else know the situation for what it is, most will pass over it as something that was possibly unintentional or missed in the excitement of the new connections.  For some, however, they will file this information away for future reference.  If it can happen to a colleague, they will reason, this person could do the same to me and my business.

What happens in the long-term

This is where the behavior will impact most.  If a colleague cannot trust a colleague to do the right thing when it comes to small business matters, the line of thinking is that such a colleague can’t be trusted to do the right thing when it comes to more important business matters.  While no one will go out of their way to sabotage that colleague’s business, they will also be unwilling to chance recommending that person or their business to others out of concern for other colleagues and their businesses.  After all, if someone is willing make bad choices on the simple decisions, chances are that the bigger the decision, the easier it will be to make bad choices.

What if the slight is unintentional

Occasionally it happens that the slight is unintentional.  The person to whom credit is due can tactfully remind the colleague of the original discussion which may have been forgotten by the colleague.

If, after being gently reminded, the colleague tosses it off or treats the matter as a minor offense that’s not worth correcting, don’t let the colleague off the hook.  If he will treat you and your business disrespectfully, he will treat other professionals and their businesses with the same lack of respect.

If, after being gently reminded, the colleague apologizes and corrects the oversight, give him a clean slate from which to work.  Not only will it help both parties to cultivate a positive business relationship with each other, it may foster other opportunities for both parties that will build both their businesses.

Is if worth getting even

It’s never worth it professionally or personally to get even with someone who has slighted you.  If it happens to you and the offender chooses not to make amends, remember what happened and move on.

  1. Don’t speak poorly about the person.  His actions will out him with other professionals in time.
  2. Don’t allow one bad apple to spoil the barrel.  Building positive business relationships matter.  Don’t stop helping others just because one or two people were unworthy of your time and effort.
  3. Focus on your business.  A person who will slight you isn’t adding anything to your business.  Others you will help in the future, and others you have helped in the past, will add value to your business just as you add value to their businesses.

Final Note

Undoubtedly getting slighted by a peer is going to bother you for a while.  It’s a human reaction.  When it happens to you — and in your lifetime, it will happen at least once, and more likely more than once —  remember that the situation says more about the person who slighted you than it does about you.

If you don’t get in the ditch with the person who slighted you, people will continue to have a positive opinion of you as a person as well as a business owner or entrepreneur.   Rise above the slight, and keep on moving forward in business and in life.  As for the other person … he’ll eventually learn from his poor behavior or he’ll wallow in a mire of poor decisions.  Either way, what happens to him is not your worry once you walk away from the situation.

Elyse Bruce

Canadian Style Shorts

Just to be clear, the shorts I’m talking about aren’t fashion but rather art related.  They aren’t name brand clothing shorts but rather animated shorts, and those I’ve been most fond of since childhood are those from the National Film Board of Canada.  Maybe it’s because Canadian humor is quirky at best with unexpected commentary and subtle nods to real life.  Maybe it’s because inherently insightful in a comic, tongue-in-cheek way that’s not seen in other cultures.  Or maybe it’s just because Canadian humor is outright hilarious.

Rather than write a lot about the selections I’ve chosen for today, I’ll let these animated shorts speak for themselves.  The first one is “Cactus Swing” with music by the Great Western Orchestra from Alberta (Canada).  It was released in 1995 to the amusement of a great many people, but most especially to the delight of musicians who knew the members of the band as well as fans of the band.

On to a very well-known song, this animated short gives a decidedly Canadian touch to “The Cat Came Back.”  I’m sure you’ll enjoy watching this one as well … and particularly so if you’ve ever been owned by a cat.

If you remember the music of the 50s and 60s, and you remember K-Tel Records, then this next animated short is definitely going to resonate with you.  If you know any young adults who are currently unemployed, this should take the edge off the situation.  *wink*

Any creative  person knows what it’s like to wrestle with procrastination from time to time.  What’s particularly delightful about this animated short is that it’s the unexpected reality of the situation that’s dead bang on accurate.  Yes, we’ve all been there and some time in the future, we’ll all be there again.  Until then, we can chuckle at what procrastination looks like to outsiders.

And finally, the famous short “The Sweater” (a true Canadian treat) based on a short story by Canadian author Roch Carrier (born 13 May 1937).   The story was originally published as “Une abominable feuille d’érable sur la glace” and was so well received, that a year after it was first published, it was translated and published in English.

The short story was one that Roch Carrier is surprised still resonates with Canadians to this day (you can read this article from 2014 where he talks about how the story came to be written).   Truth be told, whether you’ve ever played hockey or just watched others play hockey, the story is one that most people love to pieces.

What a great way to start off your Sunday … especially because today also happens to be National Ice Cream Day.  So grab a scoop of your favorite flavor and treat yourself to a great day all the way around.

Elyse Bruce

 

Pokémon Gone Again

Yesterday’s entry for Social Issues Fridays was about Pokémon GO and how it’s impacting on most of society.  It would seem that a great deal of common sense has fallen by the wayside for avid fans of the Pokémon GO app.  However, there are some who claim that the Pokémon GO app is a blessing for those diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders.

Pokémon Blessings
This is just one of many posts I’ve seen on social media where parents of children, teens, and young adults diagnosed with autism are among the most vocal supporters of this app and its use.  However, these same parents are overlooking the long-term effects and the short-term implications of the success of the game with their offspring.

After he caught his first one at the bakery … he ran outside to catch more.

A child with a developmental delay is one who isn’t as aware of his surroundings as are other children the same age.  As yesterday’s entry showed, when people who are considered average, everyday people are making bad decisions while playing Pokémon Go, we certainly cannot expect children with developmental delays to make better decisions than decisions by non-autistics.

A little boy saw him and recognized what he was doing.  They immediately had something in common.  Then the little boy showed [the autistic child] how many HE had caught.

This is the opportunity every predator and pedophile wishes would happen more often.  Most autistic children won’t interact with strangers when out in public, but this mother’s post shows that her son was excitedly interacting with a stranger, and seemed unaware of anything else in his surroundings.

Then she came out and [the autistic child] chatter with her about it, too!  Then she pointed out to him that there was a lot of Pokémon activity at the playground.  He begged to go.  He NEVER wants to go to the playground at night, because it’s out of his usual routine.

Again, the concept of stranger danger wasn’t something either child considered.  And as with the previous comment, this desire to catch Pokémon in the playground after dark is an opportunity every predator and pedophile wishes would happen more often.  The autistic child was begging to do something that was outside of his usual routine.

For those who understand the nature of autism, those diagnosed with autism rely heavily on routines and are loathe to have even the slightest changes inserted into those routines.  But here we see (as has been reported by many parents on social media) that the autistic embraced not only change but transitions (something else that is difficult for autistics to accept).

And when he got there, other kids ran up to him to hunt for Pokémon together. [The autistic child] was interacting with other kids.  

How easy would it be for a predator or a pedophile to convince an autistic to go with him/her based on the story that the predator or pedophile knew where a legendary or very rare Pokémon could be found?  Easy.  As easy as pie.  As easy as disappearing into the night without a trace of where that autistic went and whether that autistic was with someone else at the time of disappearance.

Adults were also hunting Pokémon, and these total strangers were giving him advice like “there’s one right around this corner, buddy! Go get it!” and he would run off laughing to get it.  He would even look up at them and say “THANK YOU!” and run off!

For those of you who were rolling your eyes at the previous statement about how easily predators and pedophiles could make off with someone on the autism spectrum, this parent’s statement confirms how easy that would be.   Adults were also hunting Pokémon, and these total strangers were giving him advice like “there’s one right around this corner, buddy! Go get it!”

MY AUTISTIC CHILD IS SOCIALIZING. Talking to people. Smiling at people.  Verbalizing.  Participating in pragmatic speech.

If the child is capable of all that in the space of a few minutes, the child was always capable of all that long before Pokémon GO was even vague concept in the minds of those who created the app.  The problem was that the child refused to socialize and the parents refused to push their child to socialize.

Especially for parents whose children are diagnosed or said to have Asperger Syndrome (which is now considered part of the autism spectrum disorder category in the DSM-5), this is especially important to note.  You see, Hans Asperger (the man who identified the condition and after whom the Syndrome is named) stated in his research that autistics with Asperger Syndrome must be pushed to do that which they steadfastly refuse to do.

Parents, educators, therapists, and a few medical professionals have espoused that autistics should not be pushed to do anything.  They have claimed that it will drive autistics to the brink of a meltdown or worse.  Not so.  Others have pointed to Hans Asperger’s research and stated that what these parents,educators, therapists, and medical professionals are calling meltdowns are nothing more than temper tantrums leveraged by autistics to get their way.

Participating in pragmatic speech.  With total strangers.  Looking up at them.  Sometimes even in the eye.  Laughing with them. Sharing something in common.

If those on the autism spectrum are doing all of this so readily, those on the autism spectrum doing so were able to do all of this long before Pokémon Go was released.  They chose not to socialize and interact.  They also chose to hold their families hostage by refusing to socialize and interact.

This is AMAZING!

What’s amazing is that so many parents and caregivers refuse to realize and accept that they have failed their autistic children, teens, and young adults by buying into the emotional blackmail they’ve been subjected to over the years.

What’s amazing is that so many parents and caregivers are willing to abdicate their responsibilities as parents and caregivers and to give credit to a company and its app for what their autistic children, teens, and young adults were already capable of doing before the app was made available to the public.

What’s amazing is that so many parents and caregivers are of the opinion that Pokémon Go has solved the socialization and interaction problems of their autistic children, teens, and young adults.

But hasn’t this app solved the socialization problem autistics have?

It hasn’t.  It’s no different than the most abusive forms of ABA.  Once the app falls out of favor, or there aren’t anymore Pokémon to capture, or the app is removed from public consumption, the situation parents and caregivers found themselves in before will happen again.

Socialization and interaction aren’t something that happen instantaneously because of a video game or an app on a cellphone.  They are skills that must be mentored and they are skills that must be encouraged on a daily basis if they are to be learned and mastered.

For that reason, any autistic who is socializing and interacting with others in society supposedly because of the Pokémon Go app already learned and mastered socialization and interaction skills.  He or she was just refusing to make use of those skills for reasons that are only known to those autistics who refused to make use of those skills.

Final Note

For those parents and caregivers hoodwinked into believing this app is a magic cure for the lack of socialization and interaction that is part of the autism symptomology, please take this opportunity to reframe your misperceptions about autism.  Don’t let video games and apps teach your children, teens, and young adults skills that you should be mentoring for them and teaching them.

Make them earn what they want in life including technology.  Instead of giving them everything because you don’t want them to struggle and you’re hoping to avoid enduring meltdowns, push them to do what they can do to the best of their personal abilities.

There will come a day when you will no longer be able to take care of all their needs and wants.  This is when the struggles of parenting will come home to roost.  If you’ve done your job as best you can, your offspring will be able to do as much for themselves as they possibly can.

And for goodness sake — until they’re old enough to make reasonable decisions for their safety, don’t encourage them to ignore simple rules intended to keep them safe whether it’s about running out into traffic, or disappearing into a crowd of people, or going off with strangers who are nice to them!

Elyse Bruce

 

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