Note For Anyone Writing About Me

I got blogger working again using a different proxy. It'd still be nice if people liked my Facebook, but you don't need to look at it to get posts anymore.
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.
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.

Sunday, April 20, 2014




Monday, April 14, 2014

Trying to Talk About Cross Cultural Communication and Neurodiversity

Part the first:
So on Wednesday a professor is going to talk to my class about cross-cultural communication.
I might be writing a thing about how this is TOTALLY APPLICABLE to Disability and Autistic cultures to send to my teacher and try and convince her to let me chuck it (figuratively) at said professor. Because yes. This is a thing that is happening, and cross-cultural communication applies to neurodiversity stuff and this is maybe also relevant to the paper I need to finish about essentially Neurodiversity 101 for Society for Disability Studies.
And yes, will put the thing I write on my blog once it's properly edited. But it's in Chinese so...

Part the second:
Right now the piece is 900 characters or thereabouts, and then there's my citations. Yes, I'm citing stuff. Including the only simplified Chinese academic article Google scholar turns up on neurodiversity. It's more how it applies to educational stuff, and it's really only 3ish paragraphs that actually have anything to do with neurodiversity, but still. This means someone else translated the word neurodiversity for me and I'm not the first person to think this is a thing worth talking about in Chinese. Which is kind of important considering that this other person is actually Chinese and I'm not.
I'm also citing the thesis that made "this is relevant" click for me, because I'd read it shortly before I found out about Wednesday's talk and directly talked about cross-cultural communication as being a useful idea for interaction between autistic people and allistic people.

Part the third:
I got some help from one of my teachers on editing this thing. She said that for language specific to neurodiversity stuff she won't know so much because it's not her field, but then... pretty much every neurodiversity paradigm word except "neurodiversity" itself I'm needing to invent the translations for anyways.

Her comments were mostly helpful (yay teachers!) but her initial suggestion for how to translate neurodivergence/neurodivergent is just. No.

神经岔开, my attempt at the translation, might not be right. It's the word for neurology (神经)followed by a word for divergent that I don't think has a negative connotation but I might be wrong because culture differences and while I know more about connotations in Chinese than most white USians, I'm definitely not an expert. I wouldn't be even a little bit surprised if it's wrong or even just something that's not the best, even if it works. But 特殊神经 (special neurology) is DEFINITELY wrong. Calling marginalized neurologies "special" is absolutely not what I'm going for here no no no. The idea that all the neurologies are special except for the neurotypical/close enough to neurotypical one is pretty much the opposite of what I'm going for.

Part the fourth:

But she says I can comment on stuff and send back because she knows this isn't her field so I'm doing that and she helped me figure it out! Looks like I was close, but I actually want 分岔 for divergence instead of 岔开 that I tried, and it was a parts of speech issue (I was fine on connotations.) 分岔 is apparently a noun, while 岔开 is a verb, to make neurodivergence, a noun, either want "adjective neurology" or "neurology noun". I was right about adding a 的 to change between divergence and divergent. There's still some language and expression stuff she's helping me with, but it's not neurodiversity paradigm specific "how do I translate this word that's never been translated before" anymore. Those are taken care of, so I should be good for tomorrow. [If it comes down to it, I'm OK with a professor of cross-cultural communication at a university focusing on foreign language seeing that my Chinese isn't perfect. I'm not OK with bad translations of neurodiversity terms being my fault.]

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Thought On Everyone Knows

This is just a pretty short thought, really.

It seems like a lot of people hold the opinion "everyone knows autistic people can't/shouldn't go to college." Well... everyone also knows four leaf clovers are hard to find, and here I am having found more than 200 of them this weekend. Just because "everyone knows" something doesn't make it true, but it sure makes it a lot harder for people to prove it false because people will deny us the opportunity to prove them wrong.

So "everyone knows" doesn't make something true. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Poem Time! (4 poems)

It's April. It's NaPoWriMo. I'm trying not to let my poem posting fall quite as far behind as it did last year. So here's 4. Warning for cures/death/institutionalization in The Ends, death in Changes, and that none of them are light.


Disabled AND proud.
Disabled AND awesome.
Disabled AND positive.
But, but, but, implying something's strange.
And, and, and, no contradictions here.
No paradoxes of disability and winning,
Here even when the plot doesn't demand.

The Ends

Cure, Death, Institutionalization.
These our our fates in the stories we sideline.
Our rare headlines must be cured.
Cure, Death, Institutionalization.
Is this truly all we are given?
Then we must take,
The worst they can do is status quo.

Shoes (Thank Neurodivergent K for the idea.)

Walk in their shoes, their shoes, their shoes.
The shoes that pinch and rub and blister,
Not built for me, or for those like me.
There are no shoes made for us.
If I can't have my own, there will be no shoes.
No assimilation to lives not my own.
Barefoot revolution.


One leaflet more or less,
Normal or death to my luck.
One wiring same or different,
Mythical goals I must reject.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Tools and Jobs

So as an engineer, I know that different tools are good for different jobs. MATLAB is great for running calculations and making graphs. I'm not about to typeset a paper in it, not sure if that's even a thing it does. LaTeX is great for typesetting though, because it's a markup language. And if I want to design a new part? Yes, I can run calculations related to it in MATLAB, but I'm making my blueprints in a different program (there are several good options for this.) So different tools for different jobs.

I know it as an artist too- if I only need a given stamp once and then never again, a potato stamp is quicker to make and will do the job, but if I'll want it repeatedly, I should make it out of something that, you know, doesn't rot. Linoleum blocks are my material of choice for that.

This applies with activism stuff too. Not gonna lie: a lot of systems in the USA are really broken. Education of disabled students is a mess, mathematics education is a mess, colleges are a mess in terms of actually paying their faculty and in terms of students being able to afford to go, jobs are a mess in a bunch of ways, housing is a mess in a bunch of ways, a lot of things are just an utter mess.

I kind of divide the fixing it stuff in my head into a few categories: Completely overhauling a system is one thing. Trying to make a current system slightly less broken/make changes within the system is another thing. Trying to help the people who've been messed up by the current system is a third.

I actually think that all three can (and often should!) be going on at the same time for messed up systems. If it's broken beyond fixing, or if the problems are with the core ideas of the system, you need the complete overhaul. BUT complete overhauls take time. So another group might be trying to chip away at the current one because that's possibly going to get at least some progress sooner. Yet another might be providing services to folks who've been messed up by the current system.

Within all these categories, there's also the question of how the group is going to work. Do they work on policies going through "proper" channels or do they go outside the people in charge but still semi-within the rules or do they actively break the rules of the system?

ASAN (Autistic Self Advocacy Network) is pretty firmly a user of proper channels. ADAPT is pretty firmly willing to break the rules, what with occupying places. They win different kinds of victories. ASAN is more likely to tell you what accommodations you can expect and what to do within the system if those accommodations are refused. ASAN helps folks who aren't in a position to break the rules. [Remember: ADAPT folks often get arrested, which makes survival way harder, and not everyone is in a position where they can do that and not die.]

ADAPT is the one that did the protests and got the ADA signed, got Section 504 signed.

Autism Network International (ANI) never really lobbied, but they also didn't do things that got them arrested. They're not specifically working from within, but they also don't go out and break stuff. They did community stuff.

If I'm looking for advice on what to put in an IEP (taking kids out of school isn't always feasible,) I'd probably go to ASAN, ANI, AWN (Autism Women's Network), one of the groups that isn't out getting arrested.
If I need to get school to actually do what they're legally required to do, ASAN does have decent advice on that.
If I'm looking for a lawyer because someone got arrested at a protest, I'd probably go to ADAPT.
If I'm looking for a lawyer because I need to file an ADA lawsuit, I'm probably back to ASAN asking if they know anyone.
If I'm looking for advice on helping an Autistic kid learn a skill while respecting their autonomy, I'm looking at AWN and Parenting Autistic Children With Love and Acceptance.
If I'm looking for a social media crisis, I'm probably asking all those groups to signal boost, plus my friends. The Parenting page and AWN are the groups I think would be more likely to do it, and a lot of my friends have shown that they will.

It's really a case of different tools for different jobs. The systems need changed, and someone has to keep people above water during the changes. That's generally going to be different groups, with potentially some overlap between them.