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Category: science

The Spectrum: Fursuiting with Autism (Part 2) – Guest post by Enjy

by Patch O'Furr

Guest author Enjy shares a three-part story about the history of Autism research, its place in fandom, and interviews with 3 furries who give their personal insight.

== DOC FOX – ASPERGER’S SYNDROME ==

 

Doc Fox (@Doctor_Red_Fox), real name Ted, is a 27 year old man born in Chicago, now living in Utah and attending college at the University of Utah. He is studying information systems. Doc Fox has the Autism Spectrum disorder known as “Asperger’s Syndrome,” sometimes referred to as “High Functioning Autism”. This can manifest as lack of social awareness, inability to infer the thoughts of others, sensitivity to noises or touch, and/or over-adherence to routines. He was diagnosed as a freshman in high school in the year 2006, but became a furry in the year 2004. However, his fear of being judged due to people’s negative perception of Autism, mostly people using it as a slur or insult, made him afraid to visit any furry meets until he tried his first one in 2012, at a local Illinois bowling alley. Having purchased his fursuit in 2014, Doc is very proud of his life now, and hopes that his story here can make Autism more visible, because he thinks that being public about your diagnosis can be scary.

Enjy: What does Autism mean to you, personally? How would you describe it, from your own point of view?

Doc Fox: For me, like, I’m aware I’m human. But I kinda feel like I’m always a stranger or an alien. I struggle to read other people, and sometimes, to understand other’s emotions. I’ll miss social cues that other people just take for granted. I really care a lot about if my actions hurt other people though, and I’m always afraid that people just tolerate me because I’m “weird.” It’s really hard sometimes to even talk to other people about these things too. Things people just understand like “folkways” aren’t always apparent to me and others often assume you’re acting out or in bad faith because they just take understandings of these concepts for granted.

Enjy: That was a very well thought out answer. Do you think the furry fandom has been better at coexisting with and understanding your condition than the rest of the populace?

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The Spectrum: Fursuiting with Autism (Part 1) – Guest post by Enjy

by Dogpatch Press Staff

Inspired by the above Twitter thread, I proposed doing a whole article. Guest author Enjy took it on and delivered far more than expected from a one-line topic. A lot of the content comes from interview subjects, as Enjy said: “I wanted to stray away from brevity and let them speak naturally to help neurotypicals understand how autistic people formulate their thoughts, that they might consider it when interacting with them.”

Thanks to Enjy for hard work (and thank-you tips are now being paid for article submissions too. A site sponsorship is coming soon to make it even easier with a PBS-like model.) Thanks to Patreon patrons for helping to fund this and to @Deotasdevil for supporting Enjy.

Parts 2-3 will post later this week. Enjy continues. ‚Äď (Patch)

Thanks to Doc Fox, Heathen (fursona Manik), and Pluma for doing interviews.

 

== A (Very) Brief History of Autism ==

 

Autism.

It is a word that is scary for some, misunderstood by most, and impossible to pin under a single definition. Due to it’s prevalence today, with new technologies allowing easier and more thorough evaluations of a child’s health, you may be under the impression that autism is a fairly new disorder. However, this could not be further from the truth.

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FUTURE FURSUITING: furry’s most original creations and the rise of tech-enabled smart suits.

by Patch O'Furr

The most original creations of furry fandom.

Here’s a fun feature about the future. ¬†But first, let me make a bold claim about fursuiting.

Male-Peacock-displayingMascots and costuming have been around forever. But furries are doing something new. They don’t just play with generic icons from myths and media. They add original fursonas and custom craft for everyone. It makes a subculture with personal expression beyond anything else.

Of course, many furs don’t have (or want) fursuits. ¬†But the ones who do make a photogenic face of fandom. Other¬†groups do art and writing like this one, but I don’t think anyone else does costuming in¬†such a¬†specialized and devoted way. ¬†So there’s nothing wrong with the way the fursuiters stand out. ¬†Everything else is imagination – they bring it to life and help to define the tactile name of “furry”. ¬†And the quality is developing beyond anything you can buy commercially. ¬†Some dedicated makers now have¬†careers by fans, for fans, leading a Furry Economy with an exciting future. ¬†Look forward to amazing things.

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Wombats pooping cubes – and a chunky blast of furry news! NEWSDUMP (11/17/15)

by Patch O'Furr

Headlines, links and little stories to make your tail wag.  Guest posts welcome. Tips: patch.ofurr@gmail.com. 

Atlas Obscura – The Fursuit of Happiness Begins With Customized Dog Abs. ¬†It’s a nicely written curiosity piece about¬†what fursuit makers do.¬† There needs to be a Tip Sheet for Journalists Who Want To Write About Furries. ¬†It would¬†say “quit using that title.”

Austrian “Furry News” site Furry Stammtische shares a long TV feature of fursuiters.¬†Google translate can give you a rough understanding of the story.

Fangcon gets a little slice-of-life mention in Knoxville news.  Writer bumps into fursuiters at an outdoor concert, and gets charmed.

Courting Comedy blog reviews a live talk show in San Francisco, with¬†a special Furry guest speaker. “They defanged prejudices or assumptions about the Furry community, and was cautious to not speak for the entirety of his tribe.”¬†Really happy to see this.

Furry Site Content Statistics – and a possible game changing new art site. ¬†[Adjective][Species] presents comparison of 5 established sites¬†– and Flayrah’s Sonious writes up Furry Network¬†with some details that could be highly worth your¬†attention.

VICE¬†is digging on¬†DeviantArt¬†for unusual¬†furry fetishes. ¬†This fellow fan¬†enjoys expressing “objectophilia”.¬†He¬†has a rewarding relationship¬†with his car. ¬†Thanks for visiting¬†our garden, Vice – lots¬†of¬†special varieties¬†grow¬†here, but don’t¬†poop in it.

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Furry Halloween treats, McGruff Goes To Jail – NEWSDUMP (11/4/15)

by Patch O'Furr

Headlines, links and little stories to make your tail wag.  Guest posts welcome. Tips: patch.ofurr@gmail.com. 

12189827_1150763194953018_5433177237520487821_nHalloween treats:  Popularity for Rocket Raccoon, and some looks at the culture of costuming.

Mom‚Äôs costume creation goes viral, ‚Äėwins‚Äô Halloween¬†2015. ¬†A very lucky kid in Michigan got to be an accurately-diminutive Rocket Raccoon, complete with moving jaw. ¬†It got shared on Facebook by the director of Guardians of The Galaxy. ¬†This isn’t claimed to be overtly “furry”, but when Mom makes cosplay outfits for Comic Con… it makes you wonder what research helped¬†to build it from scratch.

UPDATE: The maker confirmed to me that Furry tutorials helped build it. I asked her opinion of furries, and she says:

It’s some tough work everyone does and all of you should be proud. I made so many mistakes because there aren’t a lot of tutorials for doing stuff like this. I honestly didn’t know too much about furries until I was trying to research how to make a movable mouth for my son.

In Huntsville Alabama, inside the business of Fig Leaf Costumes: “it looks like a dressing room for furries in here.” Read between the lines, and the article might involve us, maybe indirectly. There’s this thoughtful tidbit:

So why does he¬†still enjoy playing dress up at age 35? “I love how people react. If you dressed up as a character they love they come over and give you a hug. It’s just a good feeling,” says Harrison, who along with his girlfriend plans to dress up in a couples costume for Halloween this year: “Lady and The Tramp.” Burkholder thinks the trend of adults continuing to dress in costumes, for Halloween and otherwise, is due to “Gen X feels a little bit lost so what we’re doing is claiming a little bit of a community for ourselves, especially with cosplay. And also with modernity people move away from so they want to form a sense of community, so whether it’s videogames or cosplay it’s people coming together. And I like that.

Milford Schools Criticized Nationally Over ‘Halloween Ban’.” A smaller city in Connecticut planned to stop costuming at some public schools. ¬†That quickly changed¬†after everyone growled about political correctness. ¬†It reminds me of a similar-sized city in Vermont banning fursuiters. ¬†Are they just too uptight in New England? ¬†Are some people afraid of¬†self-expression?

16 year sentence for McGruff the Crime Dog.

“The actor who played the crime-fighting cartoon character McGruff the Crime Dog, was sentenced to 16 years in prison stemming from a 2011 arrest in which police seized 1,000 marijuana plants, 27 weapons ‚Äď including a grenade launcher ‚Äď and 9,000 rounds of ammunition from his home…”

mcgruff-grenade-launcher

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Animation Show of Shows – Yiff vs. Murr – History of faux fur – Newsdump (6/25/15)

by Patch O'Furr

Headlines, links and little stories to make your tail wag.  Tips are always welcome. 

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Media and Fandom News

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The Animation Show of Shows: There’s no better source for artistic animation, and they need support.Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 3.33.32 PM

This touring show presents¬†the best of the best in the world of short films, by the most talented directors. ¬†It’s ordinarily only seen by invite at top movie studios (your Pixars and so forth), and at colleges, with special public access to those who hear¬†through word of mouth. ¬†You may not have heard of it, because it’s been a personal¬†project funded by one amazing guy, Ron. ¬†(He also runs Acme Filmworks, who directed a good couch gag for The Simpsons.)

Now, The Animation Show of Shows is appealing for support for their amazing art cause.

I don’t ordinarily post crowd funding (too much to cover!) ¬†Leave that to awesome Furry journalist¬†Corbeau at¬†Furstarter. ¬†(We need more “furry news” specialists.)¬†This is just an exceptional cause. If you like animation,¬†don’t miss it.

Through this show, I discovered¬†the hilarious short, Flamingo Pride. ¬†It shows what happens to the only heterosexual flamingo at the birds celebration. ¬†It’s almost as fabulous¬†as the¬†San Francisco Bay Furries will be this weekend,¬†in the¬†SF Pride¬†parade.

Knoxville, TN has furries in their Pride parade. ¬†Draconis, Chair of Fangcon, reports: Read the rest of this entry »

SEX! Researchers, journalists, and furries debate The Topic They Love To Hate.

by Patch O'Furr

Just published in the media: SF IS A HOTBED OF ONE KINKY-CREEPY-CUTE SUBCULTURE. And: SAN FRANCISCO РA FURRY FETISH EPICENTER.  More on that shortly.  (I apologize if this post is jumbled to read all at once- a lot of related topics just happened.)

1) Researcher Debra Soh recently¬†wrote about Furries in Harper’s Magazine. ¬†I invited her to submit a piece here. ¬†She sent:

“A Lesson Everyone Can Learn from Furries”

 

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Researchers from Northwestern University want Furries to answer their survey.

by Patch O'Furr

When pop culture notices furry fans, it loves¬†leaping to conclusions. ¬†The internet has porn, and the weird furry stuff¬†can make¬†people’s eyes bug out and stick in their minds. ¬†So¬†is that¬†what being a furry is about? Some¬†people have¬†a kink¬†for that¬†– is it fair to stick¬†all furry fans in that category?

The assumed link of furries and¬†sex¬†is often made¬†thoughtlessly¬†by outsiders. It’s the topic furries love to hate. ¬†But despite the attention, I’m told that no serious research has been done on this. ¬†Sure, there have been surveys that ask blanket questions about sex orientation, or a selection of certain¬†kinks. ¬†But there isn’t enough broad knowledge for anybody to be fully informed. ¬†That’s bad for two reasons.

rsearch

First,¬†common beliefs can’t be challenged or disproved without data. Second, if data does¬†support¬†some of these beliefs, then the topic deserves better¬†understanding. ¬†Objective answers reduce assumptions. ¬†It can replace fear and rumor with real¬†information. ¬†Informed people make a more tolerant society. ¬†There are more gay people in this subculture than general society – the reason isn’t clear, but their socializing has gained¬†more tolerance with understanding. ¬†Other questioned activities may¬†be reconciled too.

Researchers from Northwestern University in Illinois are spreading a survey about these sensitive and murky topics. They intend to research relations between furry fan sexuality, and their identities and personalities. Their survey is on lesser studied aspects of this.

Disclaimer: ¬†to avoid making¬†bias, I can’t guess or tell specific aims¬†behind their work. ¬†Building studies and their methodology is out of my area, anyways. ¬†All I can do is pick apart interpretation of statistics afterwards. ¬†I did spend¬†time talking with the researchers and emphasizing respect. ¬†I told them to hold their cards and not tell me what the survey is testing, to prevent bias in sharing. ¬†That leaves it¬†up to you to choose¬†how to respond.

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Scaly, feathery alternative limbs leap the uncanny valley into the future of prosthetic design

by Patch O'Furr

Flayrah News, 4/29/2013:

The mention of an amputee flaunting a showy, bird-plumaged prosthetic arm should make the Furry connection clear, in this story about the work of the Alternative Limb Project (ALP) and it’s director, Sophie de Oliveira Barata.

prosthetic179De Oliveira Barata is “challenging the belief that prosthetic limbs should aim to look as realistic as possible.” Her career started in special effects for film and TV, before she moved to work with a realistic prosthetics company for eight years. In her opinion:

The dominant thinking is that a new limb should be as close a match to the previous limb as possible. But until technology gets to the point where you can have a realistic looking limb in movement and aesthetics, there will always be this uncanny middle ground. Having an alternative limb embraces difference and can help create a sense of ownership and empowerment.

The new option for limbs include crystal, stereo speakers, lighting, and simulated internal anatomy to tranform disability-concealers into creative, eye-catching fashion. What’s next, hooves and paws?

Fursuit-owning readers may appreciate why, as custom-designed pieces, these limbs do not come cheap, with a cost between $4,600 and $21,000. In Britain, government health funding is dedicated only to realistic prosthetics. But De Oliveira Barata argues that alternative prostheses could be just as beneficial. It opens the imagination to a whacky sci-fi future where species-transition could be as acceptable as gender reassignment. Until then, artists, designers and biomedical engineers can explore creative inspiration and improve the lives of patients with this new kind of prosthetics.