Polly's pages (aka 'Donna Williams')

Ever the arty Autie

Unpleasant Encounter with Autism Celebrity – adventures with a cyberstalker


Someone came to my blog first thing in the morning to try and post a comment wherever they could. With a belly full of hate for breakfast, she was being loyal to a flamer who had inflamed her hatred (against me) the day before.

Flaming, also known as bashing, is hostile and insulting interaction between Internet users. Flaming usually occurs in the social context of an Internet forum, Internet Relay Chat (IRC), Usenet, by e-mail, and on video-sharing websites. Deliberate flaming is carried out by individuals known as flamers, who are specifically motivated to incite flaming. These users specialize in flaming and target specific aspects of a controversial conversation, and are usually more subtle than their troll counterparts. Trolls are less “professional” and write obvious and blunt remarks to incite a flame war, as opposed to the more subtle, yet precise flamers.[1] from Wikipedia

This particular flamer qualified as a cyberstalker:

Cyberstalking is the use of the Internet or other electronic means to stalk or harass an individual. Cyberstalkers:
1) try to damage the reputation of their victim and turn other people against them
2) They post false information about them on websites.
3) They may set up their own websites, blogs or user pages for this purpose.
4) They post allegations about the victim to newsgroups, chat rooms or other sites that allow public contributions, such as Wikipedia or Amazon.com.[5]
5) Many cyberstalkers try to involve third parties in the harassment.
6) They may claim the victim has harmed/insulted the stalker or his/her family in some way to encourage others to join the pursuit.
7) The cyberstalker will claim that the victim is harassing him/her. from Wikipedia

Adults on the autism spectrum learn ‘normality’ from those around them, including these types of people. Furthermore, they can be very literal and may not understand the workings of a cyberstalker, how the cyberstalker’s flaming has hooked them in, the cyberstalker-sycophant relationship they may find themselves in or even how to distinguish flaming from reality, support from taking flamebait, or friendship versus being a sycophant.

My cyberstalker’s new sycophant (for a friend questions, a sycophant doesn’t) was now going to impress the cyberstalker by ‘supportively’ ensuring she posted her supportive hatred in my own space for all the public to see. I decided to catalog the exchange because the dynamics had sociological elements of Krystallnacht in Nazi Germany, the Colosseum or Jerry Springer Show.

The sycophant wrote:

by Catsy101 on Apr. 11, 2012 at 10.00am
You told someone that she was either brain damaged or that she was inbred because she wrote to you telling you she loved your books, and saying that she believed she was an undiagnosed aspie. What the hell gives you the right to say something so cruel and obviously messed up? She is a parent with an autistic child. So am I. How can you be that damned heartless? It is very obvious that all you are concerned with is the oh might dollar. And that’s just disgusting. You told a mother of an autistic child, who believed she may have been an undiagnosed aspie, that she was either dropped on her head or that she was inbred. WTH is wrong with you?! She had no reason to lie…. she is just a mom like the rest of us with children who are on the spectrum, and I am not sure why in the world she would lie about it.

Why indeed? Was she actually an ‘autism mom just like the rest of us’?

The cyberstalker driving this sycophant’s hatred was using the same rumor I’d had hate mail in response to a few years ago, this time with a new spin on it. This time, instead of claiming I’d met their friend in person at a conference, this time the cyberstalker claimed I’d engaged with her in ‘chat’ on my FB page. On April 10th, 2012, the cyberstalker, under the obviously irresistibly enticing heading of ‘Unpleasant Encounter with Autism Celebrity’ posted:

Posted by badgermom2012 on Apr. 10, 2012 at 3:36 PM

Don’t know if this is out of bounds, but I’d like to relate an unpleasant FB encounter I had with the author Donna Williams. For those of you who have not heard of her, she is an author/artist/activist with HFA. A few months ago, I read her memoir, Nobody Nowhere, and really liked it so I decided to look her up on FB. Well, she was a complete B_______ to me! I told her how I think I may have undiagnosed aspergers. Well, she replied (in chat) that I seem more like I’m “the victim of a head injury,” or “inbreeding.” Nice, huh? Since then I did more research on her online and came across some criticisms of her claims in general. Some people seem to think that she has szizophrenia, not autism. Interesting. Well, serves me right for looking people up on FB! http://www.donnawilliams.net/

Whilst flamers, cyberstalkers and their sycophants don’t actually care a hoot as to truth, I do.

It IS true I said that someone was the victim of brain injury and inbreeding… but that someone was ME!.

I have written openly for years about the inbreeding and brain injury involved in my own autism. I have written that I am the product of two first cousin marriages,

that I drowned twice at age 3
wrote about being thrown through a window when a few months old, wrote about having visual and verbal agnosias (brain injury)

and the brain injury impacts of gut, immune and metabolic disorders whilst simultaneously very much aware that every person’s autism relates to very different collections of underlying causes.

The cyberstalker has conveniently utilised statements I’ve made about myself to claim I aimed these at her. Nice work if you are after empathy, support, attention from those on the forum you are posting your flaming on. Rather BPD though in terms of the idealisation/demonisation dynamic.

Though I have an FB page, the 5000 people on it know I don’t use the chat function there. Can you imagine what it would be like with 5000 people if I opened myself up to that?

As an autism consultant since 1996 who has worked internationally with over 1000 families of children with autism and known for 10 published books in the autism field drawing attention to the vast variation of causes of autism how would I possibly be so simplistic, ignorant and invested in a drop by adoring fan as to make claims about the causes of her own presumed Aspergers? But the ridiculous nature of the claim didn’t stop people running instantly to her emotional rescue. But why question or think deeply when you are indulging in the aphrodisiac of an online Oprah/Dr Phil/Jerry Springer type episode in an online forum.

As for diagnosis, my highly detailed diagnosis page is public for all the world to see. None of it includes schizophrenia and my diagnosis with autism was at the age of 2 (1965 when autism was known as childhood psychosis). So with an autism rate today of 1 in 88 and an exhaustive online diagnostic history for all the world to see, attempting to create a kangaroo court about my diagnosis is way past its useby date these days.

And the cyberstalker had written in this post, dated 10th April 2012, that:

Posted by badgermom2012 on Apr. 10, 2012 at 3:36 PM
A few months ago, I read her memoir, Nobody Nowhere, and really liked it so I decided to look her up on FB.



Donna Williams with husband Chris during chemotherapy

Four weeks before this cyberstalker’s comment, I was recovering from having had my 2nd mastectomy in Feb 2012. In Jan 2012 and Dec 2011 I was recovering from the severe depletion, fatigue and health complications of having just finished 3 months of chemotherapy. Before that I had had my first mastectomy in July 2011 and my diagnosis of breast cancer and its associated biopsies, brain, bone, body scans in June-July 2011. So given I was rather preoccupied saving my life from cancer in the NINE MONTHS before April 10th 2012, someone is telling a lie.

The cyberstalker uses inflammatory commentary to gather their ‘flock’ (think ‘sheep’) then inflames their sycophant followers to prove loyalty by joining in hate, and continuing the hate-work further in spreading it as far and wide as possible. It’s not so far removed from the antics on the Jerry Springer Show, the incitement to hatred in Nazi Germany or the entertainment offered up in The Colosseum in ancient Rome. What are the rewards to the cyberstalker? 6 days earlier, the cyberstalker obviously felt on the outer among the very same crowd:

by badgermom2012
Member on Apr. 4, 2012 at 4:34 PM
Yes, but unfortunately other autism moms seem to hate me.

But through reworking an old defamatory rumor to inflame a potential sycophant ‘flock’, instantly gathered vast, unquestioning, slathering support (added below for educational purposes) rallied through inciting hatred to a third person. How quickly can a cyberstalker ignite the fires of disgust and hatred? Here’s the the times and comments which then flowed thick and fast including her championing her sycophants as they get the boots in in retribution for her advertised victimhood including one so eager to support she goes off and creates her own hate page to extend the hatred beyond the forum.

by TwilightMom815
Member on Apr. 10, 2012 at 4:08 PM
thats horrible

by mallowcup17
Kate on Apr. 10, 2012 at 4:20 PM
thats terrible 🙁

by steph2884
Bronze Member on Apr. 10, 2012 at 4:32 PM
Sorry about that. She seems crazy. I’ve had a similar experience, except the person found me… I don’t understand some of these people!

by aidensmomma508
Wendy on Apr. 10, 2012 at 4:43 PM
that is so rude wow! So sorry that happened. 🙁

by marisab
Marisia on Apr. 10, 2012 at 4:44 PM
thats terrible!!;-(

Now, whilst the first sycophants have offered up 1) automatic and unquestioned presumption the cyberstalkers claims are fact, and 2) offered up outpourings of empathy, validating the cyberstalkers advertised victimhood. But now, the next sycophant competes with the others, raising her own impressiveness by escalating from the previous exclaimation marks to now writing in CAPITALS with exclamation marks to emphasis that her outrage/support is ‘even greater’ than the other sycophants so far. But then she goes further that impressing the cyberstalker with her outrage, and expressing her empathy, she then suggests the hate work should be extended beyond their forum, out further into the online world:

by Leobaby2007
Allison on Apr. 10, 2012 at 4:49 PM
WHAT??? THAT”S HORRID! I am so sorry your were subjected to that!
More people shoud know about this “Donna Williams.”

Then one of the sycophants starts out reconfirming her presumption of the cyberstalker’s claims as fact, ensures she reiterates the labeling of me as a ‘bitch’ but then seems to be wrestling with how I could have done what the cyberstalker claims so tries to find some possible reason:

by kajira
Bronze Member on Apr. 10, 2012 at 4:51 PM
I’m sorry she was a bitch to you…. though I’m guessing because of her book she probably gets a lot of unsolicited emails, pm’s, and a “hey, I relate to you a lot so maybe I’m….” and it probably drives her insane too…
that doesn’t excuse her comments though or being a total bitch from hell…. I personally think she treated you awfully and you didn’t deserve it.

by smarieljlee
Bronze Member on Apr. 10, 2012 at 5:07 PM

by momtoscott
Jean on Apr. 10, 2012 at 5:10 PM
I’m sorry that happened to you. It sounds like a really unnerving experience!

by greenmommo
Bronze Member on Apr. 10, 2012 at 6:33 PM
That’s … TERRIBLE! Sorry that happened. Terrible when you are trying to connect and get stabbed instead. As an Aspie, she should understand.

And now, having found the potential dissenter has been watered down by the sycophants that have followed on, she runs with the idea, further cashing in on the validation and re-plants the idea of a unappreciative, rich author living off her readers:

by badgermom2012
Member on Apr. 10, 2012 at 6:39 PM
I’m sure she does too, and if it bothers her then she shouldn’t have her FB page set up so anyone can message her! And people buying her books is a big part of how she makes her living, so I think she or any author for that matter should be nice to their readers (within reason, of course). Anyway, I know you weren’t saying she was right, I’m just responding to the part about her getting unsolited emails.

Michelle on Apr. 10, 2012 at 6:54 PM
How awful…hugs

by newmommy430
Member on Apr. 10, 2012 at 7:31 PM
A lot of people on the spectrum don’t know how mean they are being when they talk to others. I wouldn’t take it personally. Sorry that she was rude to you though.

by letstalk747
Bronze Member on Apr. 10, 2012 at 7:34 PM
”inbreeding”——– what the hell

by valleymomma1
Bronze Member on Apr. 10, 2012 at 7:40 PM
Wow that was not very nice of her.

by MommaSugar78
Member on Apr. 10, 2012 at 7:46 PM
Wow. I am sooooo sorry she treated you like that! 🙁

One of the sycophants tries to find a way to imagine the cyberstalker’s claims by considering the possibility of the claimed behaviour (which never actually happened) being part of my autism.

by dawncs
Bronze Member on Apr. 10, 2012 at 7:57 PM
You have to realize that some of us adults have some of the same problems and issues that your son or daughter might have with Autism. We can be opinionated at times and rather blunt when we share them. It can come off as sometimes very insensitive. If we campaign for today’s children diagnosed with Autism for their problems and flaws as a result with Autism, we have to do the same sometimes with adults with Autism. Otherwise, it can be seen as hypocritical at times among our community.

And at risk of now being ‘caught’ the cyberstalker cashes in, reminding people she experienced AS issues (ie re small talk, even though the cyberstalker’s posts actually demonstrate excellent skills in small talk). Then she plants the idea that SOME autistic people (though ensures she lets Temple off the hook) use diagnosis (DX) as an excuse for being abusive. Finally, she plants the further hate-fuel idea that I am bigoted against those who identify with AS at an older age.

by badgermom2012
Member on Apr. 10, 2012 at 8:17 PM
I totally agree. I often don’t know what to say or how to make small talk. However, telling somebody that they sound like they have a head injury or the victim of inbreeding is just rude regardless of DX. Along these lines, I’ve read many books by another celebrity, Temple Grandin (for those who don’t know–very HFA), and she says autism is no excuse for meaness or rudeness, and I agree. Otherwise you have people doing all kinds of crap and throwing up their hands and blaming it on DX. Ms. Williams seemed to not like the idea that I am almost 40 and have not been DXd. She seemed to think I was just trying to jump on the bandwagon. Like autism is so cool or something. So, I am not going to simply accept her verbal abuse as “she can’t help it,” or some such nonsense.

One of the sycophants suggests the tone of the claimed comment could have been perceived as harsher than intended:

by smarieljlee
Bronze Member on Apr. 10, 2012 at 8:57 PM
Fair enough. But it would hurt my feelings if it were me! Inbreeding, really?
I am curious as to how it was actually worded. Tone can be hard to precieve on the net and all that. I dont doubt that it came off harsh.

An instant opportunity for one of the sycophants to promote themselves to more supportive, more empathic, more impressive than the others arises and again encourages the others to take the hatred beyond their forum directly out to me in my email inbox (yes, this is just 7 weeks since my second mastectomy, just 4 months since finishing chemotherapy, they are egging each other on to send hate mail to my personal email address):

by shell3m
Shell on Apr. 10, 2012 at 9:30 PM
OMG!!!! WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE!!!! WORDS HURT!! I’m so sorry she said that to you, she had no right to say that! I would have wrote to her:
“I’m sorry you feel that way, I thought you were a nice woman and I loved your book but now I see the other side of you and it’s not pretty. I hope you grow as a person to see the beauty in everything and in EVERY PERSON. It’s such a shame you are a fraud for those who ACTUALLY care for their fellow man.”

by thatgirl70
Silver Member on Apr. 10, 2012 at 9:43 PM
Wow, that was uncalled for!

by crossnlilly
Member on Apr. 11, 2012 at 7:50 AM
She should not have treated u that way. Thats not right

by AspieCarrie
Member on Apr. 11, 2012 at 9:30 AM
Oh wow.

by AMom29
Member on Apr. 11, 2012 at 1:15 PM
Quoting letstalk747:
”inbreeding”——– what the hell
Right? Geez.

Already having primed her sycophants, one of them now ‘supportively’ utilises my background of having grown up abused (as ‘bad upbringing’) to allude to this giving credence to the cyberstalker’s portrayal of me as an abuser. The cyberstalker encourages her sycophants to take Temple Grandin as an example of someone brought up with manners in a loving home so a better example for parents, alluding to Temple’s background as precluding HER from antisocial behaviours.

by newmommy430
Member on Apr. 11, 2012 at 1:46 PM
Temple Grandin was raised by a loving mother that brought her up to be respectful. Donna Williams was not. This is a good lesson for us parents of children with autism.

Clearly they had not read Temple’s first book, Emergence! In Emergence, Temple bravely disclosed about vandalism antics, lying, plotting, vengeance, scorn, even enjoying deliberately breaking her mother’s objects, plotting to cover up her peeing on her mother’s curtains and flinging her feces in vengeance. Temple outgrew a school for disturbed children and grew up to CHOOSE to do none of these things. But she serves as a helpful reminder that kids from ‘loving’ homes can easily indulge in things that are too easily and conveniently off loaded onto those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

At this point, the sycophant, having found I didn’t approve her continuing the hatred onto my own blog had emailed me and I’d replied to her. But even our dialogue is then flag waved as a sacrifice (“I put myself on the line…”) she’d made for the cyberstalker but she does now ask the cybertalker to come forward with evidence of the original claimed correspondence:

by MommaSugar78
Member on Apr. 11, 2012 at 2:48 PM
So – I write this woman (Donna Williams) asking her on her blog how she could possibly tell a woman who has a child with autism, and believes she may be undiagnosed with it, that she was dropped on her head or was inbred. I put myself on the line to ask her these things, because I am truly appalled. NOW – I would LOVE to see your original correspondence with this woman.

In response, the cyberstalker begins to water down, back pedal and cash in on having been told she had rehashed an old defamatory rumor:

by badgermom2012
Member on Apr. 11, 2012 at 3:36 PM
I reported the above. I had no such in depth conversation with Donna Williams. It was a fairly brief exchange on FB during which she rather flippantly and abruptly made the brain damage and inbreeding comments. It was not on her blog. I only put the link to her blog so people would know who I was talking about. And if there’s been a similar story in the past, it’s probably because she’s abused people similarly in the past.

by smarieljlee
Bronze Member on Apr. 11, 2012 at 4:10 PM
If she has a stat counter on her site she may have been able to see this.
But whoa

Clearly, though, the sycophants invested in impressing each other with their ‘supportive’ hatred buy this and continue to get the boots in, unfazed:

by magickbaby
Member on Apr. 11, 2012 at 4:12 PM
Total bitch !

by Jenn8604
Jennifer on Apr. 11, 2012 at 4:12 PM
who died and made her an expert on all things asd? that was rude. she coulda given u a im not a dr. speak to one lecture not told u ur a result of inbreeding.

by aakeiser
Bronze Member on Apr. 11, 2012 at 6:37 PM
There is a few writers out there that are mean.. One writes a popular teen book, House of Night. She isn’t very nice on FB.. I don’t understand why the go on FB and if they are going to be mean to their fans.. My fave writer is on FB and she is great, she even tries to answer our questions, and respond to our post. She lets us know every few days whats going on with the books and her life..I am sorry you had a bad experience. I found out that a lot of times the people we look up to are not always the way them seem to be…

Now, the cyberstalker attempts to further portrayal of her own victimhood and extend the demonisation by alluding to a further abuse. This time, deflecting her own cyberstalking onto me by planting the idea that I had cyberstalked her. But she’s aware now that she can be sued for defamation so she’s covering herself with the disclaimer of she ‘can’t say for sure’:

by badgermom2012
Member on Apr. 11, 2012 at 6:37 PM
Yep, I suspect it is Donna Williams herself who posted that comment. I also received two semi-threatening emails from the same poster, which I reported. This only lends credence to what I’m saying. If I were simply a crazy person making this all up I don’t think she’d go to these lenghts. Pretty pathetic that a supposed professional and autism activist would resort to this behavior if it is indeed her (of course i can’t say for sure). Regardless, someone has a major chip on their shoulder to attack me over this. I’m a mom of a little boy with autism and my main purpose on these internet sites is to get info about autism and more ways to help my son and to connect with people in similar situations, and to be attacked for that is just BS.

And, again, it works:

by aakeiser
Bronze Member on Apr. 11, 2012 at 6:40 PM
Sorry the lady just seems really nuts.. I would try to block her if I was you.

Then, it not only works, it inspires one of her sycophants to go out beyond the forum and create a hate page to gather more ‘flock’ then comes back to proudly share her handiwork with the cyberstalker:

by CreziaMommyTo2
Member on Apr. 11, 2012 at 4:17 PM
Donna Williams is an author who writes about people with autism. Yet, she is a total complete nasty human being who does not care that the people who buy her book keep her in buisness. A friend of mine wrote to her on her facebook to say she loved her books and that she believed she herself was an undiagnosed aspie. She said her mother must have dropped her on her head or that “inbreeding” must have had something to do with it. I am posting this page to tell the honest truth about this cruel woman who cares about no one but herself, and nothing but the cash she recieves for her books.

And finally, the cyberstalker who has played victim with such talent, milked her sycophants for every drop of empathy and incited them to heights of remarkable ugliness as they compete to impress her, thanks the highest bidder for this ‘support’, and expresses not the slightest empathy herself. Instead, with a classic ‘LOL’ (Lots of Laughs), she expresses, instead, her AMUSEMENT:

by badgermom2012
Member on Apr. 11, 2012 at 6:45 PM
LOL. Welll, I appreciate the support.

Oh yeah, cyberstalker, I bet you do.

An archaic rehashed rumor reworked for personal advantage/popularity in an online forum. Why would anyone utilise that? Do all mothers of kids with autism incite hatred, spread lies, play poor me ‘every autism mother hates me’ and six days later play claim victimhood on another page to bring sycophants running, unquestioningly to her emotional rescue? Clearly, by inciting people to collaborate in the hatred of a third party, suddenly the flamer had the inclusion, support, popularity and sympathy she had been longing for.

But do I blame the cyberstalker? Not really. Personality disordered people can be the kid next door, the postman, the autism mom, the self diagnosed Aspie… anyone. It is the sycophants who make a choice to join in with the hatred, to take it further, to spread it and lust after gathering more haters and the flagwave of this ‘support’, this ‘loyalty’ back to the personality disordered cyberstalker they are seeking to impress with how much they ‘care’, how ’empathic’ they are. And those smashing and burning during Krystallnacht felt they were supporting each other too.

When we CHOOSE to be sycophants to a cyberstalker, no matter whether they are in our club or not, remember what flamers encouraged in Nazi Germany. Much of the horrors of Krystallnacht were done by the sycophants to Nazi’s, ‘everyday citizens’ in an ‘us and them’ lumpers convention. The online forums are becoming today’s Colloseum. Had these people wanted truth it was one mouse click away. But none bothered. Nobody is particularly interested in truth when there is too much fun to be had. This is our new society. Are we proud of our places within it?

To quote Martin Luther King Jnr:

“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved as he who helps to perpetrate it.”

Before you degrade yourself by enthusiastically contributing to online kicking session, then even if you don’t give a damn about truth, at least seek to know the difference between being a sycophant taking flamebait and being a ‘friend’. At least seek to know the difference between a conversation and pandering to a cyberstalker.

I will sign off with Charles Bukowski’s masterpiece: The Genius of The Crowd

Donna Williams, BA Hons, Dip Ed.
Author, artist, singer-songwriter, screenwriter.
Autism consultant and public speaker.

I acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the Traditional Owners of this country throughout Australia, and their connection to land and community.