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Neurologic is a podcast produced by autistic Leo Jones about autism, autistic advocacy & self-advocacy, issues of importance to autistics and the autistic community, and much more.

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30 Days of Autism Acceptance Challenge - Day 5: Special Interests

Apr 8, 2019

My special interests change over time, but here's a few that have stuck with me for years:

- Yo-Yos

While I don't throw much anymore, I am still fascinated and enjoy yo-yos. I even still have a Hyper Yo-Yo case with nearly all of my yo-yos in it; my favorites include the Spintastics TigerShark, Henry's Viper, Yomega's Raider, and Bandai's Hyper Russell (a copy of the original Russell yo-yos, great at looping with a wooden axle). I still keep up on maintenance for them, and when I have the time and the inclination I will explore the current state of yo-yos and might even pick up some new ones.

- Linux and FOSS (Free/Open-Source Software)

This was borne from a frustration with Windows and the unacceptable amount of maintenance one had to do to prevent problems and avoid major disasters, and it specifically came about while running Vista. I first learned about Linux when I was in college, and was first introduced to Red Hat. With some research and a few live distributions on DVD (Linux isn't a monolithic operating system - there's literally thousands of adaptations, called distributions, created for a variety of tasks and purposes, even just for fun), I eventually migrated over to using Linux full time on all my devices.
What I love about Linux is the control it gives me; I can literally change everything about the operating system if I so choose. I am not locked out of anything, and it stays out of my way. Currently I'm running Linux Mint on my main computer, Peppermint OS on my portable laptop, and I've got a simple NAS box running OpenMediaVault on a Raspberry Pi. At some point I might move to an Arch-based distribution, but for now I will stick with what I know.

- Assistive Technology

Even though I'm not nearly as involved as I used to be, I'm still very passionate about affordable AT devices, at one point advocating for such in the FOSS community. AT devices are incredibly and unnecessarily expensive, with costs ballooning to four figures and more, for what the specifications amount to a smartphone from 3-5 years ago. It's part of what I described as the Confinement Cycle, where a disabled person wants to live independently - but needs a job. So they need assistive technology in order to do the job; but the job refuses to pay for it, and unless the disabled person sues, that's highly unlikely to happen. The disabled person has to pay for it themselves - but depending on insurance, they may not be able to afford it. So how to get the money to pay for a device needed to obtain a job for the cash to get the device?

No one seems to have an easy answer, and it's become even more difficult as government programs have been cut.

Mobile devices can be an answer at times, but due to the way apps are handled by the two main smartphone/tablet OS providers, the cost is still significant - and in a number of cases, if the app stores deem the app to be in violation of their terms and conditions (or the just feel the need to pull the app), they can remove the app from the person's device. It's happened before, and I have no doubt it will happen again.

FOSS and Linux are great foundations for future assistive technology, in terms of customization and in cost. Making that case - and changing the AT industry - will take monumental efforts.

- Leo Jones