Note For Anyone Writing About Me

For anyone who wants to write about me
I am an Autistic person. I am not a person with autism. Don't call me one. FYI, also not Aspergers. The diagnosis isn't even in the DSM anymore anyways.
My name is Alyssa, I'm a triple major in mathematics, mechanical engineering, and Chinese. I'm currently studying abroad in Tianjin. I have an About. I'm Autistic. I don't like Autism Speaks. I'm Disabled, not differently abled, and I am an Autistic activist. Self-advocate is true, but incomplete.

Monday, March 16, 2015


Content Notes: Death, Cancer

Two weeks ago today, my grandfather passed away.

It wasn't a shock. He had cancer. He'd had it for a few years, and I'd known it was terminal for nearly a year. (He'd known, intellectually, for longer, but I don't think he really believed it.) He'd had a stroke in November as well, less than a week after he played football in the backyard at his 80th birthday party.

A month ago, I was told that he was going downhill fairly quickly. I had planned to visit him two weeks ago yesterday (Sunday) but on Saturday was told that Sunday might be too late. So I got up to see him on Saturday. He wasn't able to talk anymore, but he was still responsive in other ways. I talked to him some, I sat in the room with him, that sort of thing.

He wasn't expected to last the night, on Saturday, but he made it to Monday afternoon. That... was actually pretty typical of him. He made semifinals of a tennis tournament last summer too, with a chemo pump in his back pocket and against people who were mostly half his age or less. I'm not quite sure how he managed this, considering what chemotherapy does to people. Or what cancer does.

He was one of the stubbornest people I've ever known. (No, really. It was impressive.)

And he was an engineer. Not by traditional college education- he was a lawyer first- but primarily self-taught, and then taking the fundamentals of engineering and professional engineering exams.

I'm not sure what song this is from, but I heard it today. "I wear your grandad's clothes. I look incredible."


Actually, my jacket is from my grandpa.
My youngest sister has acquired his suspenders.
My dad has his Patriots hoodie now.
I think my brother might have reclaimed his sweatpants, but I'm not sure? (He gave grandpa a pair of sweatpants during stroke rehab.)

The rest of the song didn't line up with the thoughts those lines brought up, but.
We wear my grandad's clothes. We look incredible. But you'd probably never guess they were my grandad's clothes, because he didn't dress like most folk's idea of an 80 year old man. (See also: Patriots hoodie.)

I miss him.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

#AutismSpeaks10 Aren't #AutismChampions.

I've been fairly active on Twitter the last few days with the Autistic and allied takeover of the #AutismSpeaks10 hashtag, and now the new tag, #AutismChampions (the s at the end is important, because without it you wind up in a different tag.)

I've also been super-busy offline, and I've been working on some cool advocacy, activism, and art stuff that's not ready yet, so I've not had enough time for that and blogging typically. In lieu of a more typical blog post, here's embeddings of all my original tweets to those two tags. :)

I seriously recommend looking at both tags, though, and maybe retweeting some stuff or adding your own! Warning, though: Some of the stuff Autism Speaks has done is really triggering, and we are talking about it.

(The Chinese tweet is a translation of this.)

(This is Chinese for the TNJU (Tianjin Normal University) tweet.)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Democratizing Innovation notes

I actually read Democratizing Innovation a while ago, having reviewed it back in 2013. But I realized that I hadn't put my notes up yet (just a review) so here they are. You can get the book for free as a pdf at the authors website.

“I first ask them how satisfied they are with their backpack. Initially, most say, “It's OK.” But after some discussion, a few complaints will slowly begin to surface (slowly, I think, because we all take some dissatisfaction with our products as the unremarkable norm.)”
But there are still a bunch of students who decide to make some sort of change to their backpack to make it at least a little better.

“adding more beta testers... increases the probability that someone's toolkit will be matched to the problem in such a way that the bug is shallow to that person.” (Raymond qtd in von Hippel.)
That is, adding more people who look at a problem increases the chances that the solution will be simple to someone

The assets of some user will then generally be found to be a just-right fit to many innovation development problems.”

parallel between user-innovator and scholar-activist?

In the early days of computing, it was common to freely share software and modifications to it. Almost as soon as the first firm restricted access to source code, counters including the General Public License started appearing. Some people started calling these “copyleft.”

hacker culture as an anarchist thing?

Conventional economic language talks about producers and consumers, supply and demand, but Weber notes that “the open source process scrambles these categories” (qtd in von Hippel) as users become part of the production process. He also suggests this integration could occur in other areas.
In open source, users are able to make complicated products themselves, like Firefox and Linux. (A user is kind of like a consumer, but it's a word that still works when the user is also the one making the thing.)

Experts in many fields form interest groups and informally help each other, freely revealing information in ways similar to that of open source processes. (von Hippel.)

Amabile, T. M. 1996. Creativity in Context. Westview.
Antelmon, Kristin. 2004. “Do Open Access Articles Have a Greater Research Impact?” College and Research Libraries 65, no 5: 372-382
Christensen, C. M. 1997. The Innovator's Dilemma. Harvard Business School Press.
Morris, A. D. and C. McClurg, eds. 1992. Frontiers in Social Movement Theory. Yale University Press.
Harhoff, D., J. Henkel, and E. von Hippel. 2003. Profiting from Voluntary Information Spillovers: How Users Benefit by Freely Revealing Their Innovations.” Research Policy. 35, no 10:1753-1769.
Mishina, K. 1989. Essays on Technological Evolution. PhD Thesis, Harvard University.
Von Hippel, E. 1976. The Dominant Role of Users in the Scientific Instrument Innovation Process. Research Policy 5, no 3: 212-39

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Fiction and Representation (For Me)

After many, many years of being asked to visualize things and never being able to do it, and not forming pictures of characters or places in my head as I read, and never being able to accurately guess what a place actually looks like based on floor plans, I have reached the conclusion that I don't have a minds eye. (I reached the conclusion a while ago, so this isn't new, but it's relevant to the slightly unusual way I interact with representation in fiction.)

In fact, not only do I not come up with a mental image of a character as I read, but I also don't really remember the details of how a character is described as looking. (For similar reasons, I don't pay much attention to those details while I'm writing, which I'm working on because I know representation matters to people in all the ways they can interact with the information, and if I don't provide descriptions that show otherwise, people are going to assume all my characters are cisgender heterosexual able white people.)

One example I like to use for this is Hermione. The book descriptions of Hermione could be describing me, and I didn't realize this. After I saw the first movie, with Emma Watson as Hermione, while they were still trying to give her actual frizzy hair, I picked up on the bit where Hermione is a character who looks like me, but that didn't make Emma's Hermione take over the non-existent slot for my mental picture of Hermione. It didn't make me take over the non-existent slot either, because that slot doesn't exist. (Also, the book version of Hermione and I are fairly similar, personality-wise, which is the way that I can understand and interact with.)

For me, the non-existence of mental images for characters means that I personally don't much care what a character looks like. I care about it for the people who'll notice and care because they have minds eyes like that, and I care about it some (still not much) in movies because the pictures are given to me, but as far as making me feel represented goes, it really doesn't matter what the character looks like. I need characters who act like me, whether or not they look anything like me.

Give me characters who are awkward even when it isn't cute. Give me characters who avoid shopping because it's loud and bright. Give me characters whose interests don't line up with the idea of "geek" or "jock" or "creative type" or any of those, but have a mix from all. Give me characters who are good, really good, at some of the things they like but have to work hard to even manage "not terrible" for some of the others. Give me characters who act like me, with personalities like mine.

The physical descriptions matter for the people who can translate those to images, but that's not me and it will probably never be me. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

"Class" Discussion.

Over my winter break, I worked on a syllabus for a disability studies class aimed at engineering students, meant for the special section that the Society For Disability Studies is putting into one of their upcoming issues. (At least, I think that's how the section is working.)

I was talking to a professor in the school of education at my university (I have contacts in my university now! Yay!) We got to talking about books and reading, because her specialty is with English and I'm a bookworm. Somehow or other, the fact that she really liked the short story Harrison Bergeron came up. At this point, I mentioned that in one of the weeks of that syllabus I made, there are only two "readings." One is Harrison Bergeron, a short story by Kurt Vonnegut. The other is Fixed, a documentary about the science and fiction of human enhancement.

I wound up lending her my DVD of Fixed because she said it sounded interesting, and I left her with the question of why she thinks I'd put those two readings together. Now I'm opening it up here: anyone familiar with both pieces have any ideas on how they could work together in a class discussion? It doesn't need to be the same reasons/ways I have (note that I haven't said what those are anyways.) I'm curious, because I suspect that there's way more possibilities than the ones I've got.