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.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A New Least-Eventful Disclosure

One of the many things I am is an engineering student. (No, I don't say that I have engineering studenthood, though in terms of how important the identity is to me, I'd buy that before I bought that I have autism rather than that I am autistic.)

As an engineering student in my final year, I have a capstone design project. This is pretty cool! One of the things that my professor asked for as we are getting started is a resume. Publications go on this.

Now, publications are awesome. I have a few, some with wallet!name and some with out-as-Autistic!name. (In person, I'm usually out as Autistic with wallet!name, but in public spaces online not so much.)

Most of the ones which are under the out-as-Autistic!name (Alyssa Hillary, in case you were wondering) out me as Autistic just by reading them, as disabled of some sort from the title of the essay or the description of the book alone. That's part of why they're under that name. 

Since I'm out to my school in general (though not always disclosed to any specific professor yet), I figure the question of how to handle those sorts of publications was a reasonable one to ask the professor. 

This means that my new least-eventful disclosure is the one where I get an answer of, "That's a good problem to have, but I'm not sure how to answer it." (It's a good problem to have because my publications (plural!) are the only reason I even needed to ask.)

But I'm still not sure what to do. My guess is that for any given company I send to, I'll figure it out from public and public-ish stuff about them, on a case-by-case, and for the copy my professor gets, I'll do everything that's even a little relevant to engineering, regardless of which name I put on it.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Disability Studies/Rights for Engineering Students

That's a thing I'm creating a syllabus for. It's going into a special issue of Disability Studies Quarterly! (Yay, I'm doing things!)

I know a bunch of things I think need to be in there (social model of disability, all technology is assistive technology, universal/inclusive design, disabled people involved in designing own things, how not to be terrible to disabled colleagues, etc.)


I am one person. A person in most of the right fields for this (education experience, engineering student, disability studies person,) but still one person. My perspectives are absolutely affected by which kind of engineering I do (I'm a mechanical engineering student with some interest in nanotechnology and some in assistive technology and a lot in computers) and the ways I am disabled!

So, I want to know what you think should get covered. That can be things you think a class introducing disability to engineering students should read, topics you think should be discussed, activities you think should/shouldn't be done, whatever opinions you have on creating a class like that are welcome.

I asked about this on Quora, too, if you'd rather answer there, and you can email me at if you want to talk that way.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Bisexuality Day

Around the internet I've seen a few different terms: Bisexuality Awareness Day, Bisexuality Visibility Day, Celebrate Bisexuality Day, and probably more that I didn't notice because I am not everywhere.

Whichever. Bisexuality and Today. Also Twitter. There's a hashtag, #MyBisexualityIs, that I'm fairly sure was created by @FeministaJones, and that's embedded below.
I tweeted a couple things to the hashtag too, which I'm embedding and writing more about. Twitter/Blogger combo is great for that, because I say something short on Twitter, then bring it over here to be more lengthly and get to say more things about the things and get kind of meta.

This was my first post to the tag of the day. It's about inclusiveness for those of us who are also asexual. I've written a bit before about the fact that I'm asexual, it's a thing. Sometimes, people think asexual=straight, and therefore not queer. That's... not necessarily the case. There's a lot of different kinds of attraction, sexual is only one of them. It's one that I don't experience, meaning I'm asexual, but any of the other kinds? Not inherently covered by asexuality. Gender identity? Not part of asexuality either.

And as for me. I am bi. There's enough different, overlapping, sometimes contradictory definitions of being bi or pan that I'm not 100% sure which fits me "better" but I can make a case for either or both. The fact that I am also asexual does not change this.
And here is my other tweet. No, no one has ever said that to me when I told them I was bi. It has, however, been said to other autistic people when they state their bisexuality. It's essentially a combination of the idea that bisexuals are "just confused" (false, FYI) and the idea that autistic people are somehow impaired in our understanding of our likes and dislikes (also false), so far as I can tell. We do tend to have some relationship difficulties because any kind of mismatch within any kind of relationship can cause those, but this is a different statement from inherent confusion about gender.

There's also the whole bit where even if we are confused about gender, if that confusion did somehow cause bisexuality, it would... still be bisexuality? (not going to lie, gender stuff does kind of confuse me: not in a "don't understand other people's genders" way or a "don't understand which genders I should be attracted to" way (all of them, clearly), but in a "um there is nothing in my head that looks like gender to me????" kind of way.) Bi because not entirely sure how gender works is still bi, even if it's not how my bisexuality is.

Not so much explained on Twitter because 1) 140 characters isn't much, and 2) My bi(romantic a)sexuality is not a sign of autism making me confused about gender, and the hashtag is MyBisexualityIs. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Acceptance Vs. Recovery

So this was actually a bit back, but I've been thinking on and off about my exact intended wording. I've also just been really busy. Taking five classes, teaching one, assisting three others, playing sports, and working on a paper for INSPIRe Student Symposium has that effect.


Think Inclusive wrote an article. This is a thing they do pretty often. This particular one started off by showcasing a poet, which is cool, and then mentioned that he had also been interviewed by a site called Autism Live, which includes language about "recovery." That struck an uncomfortable note with the author over at Think Inclusive, so they asked: "Can Autism Acceptance and Autism Recovery Coexist?" as I believe both title and Twitter text. Definitely Twitter text. 

I responded, as I am wont to do.
.@think_inclusive Re autism acceptance and autism recovery coexisting: LOL NOPE. Recovery=pass for NT, lose recognition of passing effort. 
I mean, the problems are more numerous than that. But the idea that if you act "less autistic" in public, no matter how much effort that takes, you therefore are "less autistic," potentially even "not autistic anymore," is kind of at the root of some icky stuff. Including the idea of recovery from autism, really. Because how else has recovery from autism ever been defined? Seriously, when has recovery from autism as a concept ever been defined in a way other than "this person is no longer acting in ways that person X finds to be obviously autistic," with no regard given to the amount of effort required to do so?

I'm gonna go with never.

Sure, there might have been times when people interpreted that "evidence" to mean that things more core were changed too, but even that isn't consistently happening. It's an idea of autism as some set of external stuff in how we act, rather than a more internal thing of how our minds work.

And I have plenty of criticism for the goals and concepts of passing for neurotypical, beyond what I'm putting here. But.

Autism acceptance involves teaching autistic people as we are, accepting that our minds work... however they happen to work (that's not even necessarily consistent over time and between energy levels within a single autistic person, many of us have multiple modes of thought, but there are some patterns in how autistic people's minds tend to work.) It involves saying, "This person is always going to be autistic, and we're going to work on skills that are compatible with their autistic self, in ways that are compatible with their autistic self, with goals matching their goals." It views growth into an Autistic adult as the goal.

Autism recovery views growth into a non-Autistic adult as the goal.

I think that's a pretty core difference: autism acceptance says that an autistic child will grow into an autistic adult, and that that's great. Autism recovery says that an autistic child should grow into a non-autistic adult, and that an autistic person being able to "pass" for non-autistic, even if only by the cluelessness of those around them, is the same as being not autistic anymore. These are pretty incompatible ideas.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Some Joking Nerdery

I'm taking a graduate linear algebra class this semester. (I'm also taking difference equations, which looks a lot like more advanced linear algebra, at least while it's linear.) During the "lets go through all the stuff you probably learned in undergrad, then forgot, but kinda want to know for this class" phase, one of the things we've covered is linear transformations. T is the variable typically assigned. Linear transformations have kernels/null spaces, which is the stuff from the first set that gets sent to the "zero" point of the second set. These get denoted by a cursive N.

So the null set of a transformation T is  NT. Now, the joke of NTs being null as in nothing is not even a little bit where I am going. Neurotypicality as a construct is pretty thoroughly terrible, yes, but calling a group of people, even privileged people "null space" as in nothing as the punch line is not my idea of joking nerdery.

Defining a function from people to something, like from people to some sort of directed distance from "exact average brain" or "the brain society is defined for" and pointing out that plenty of people are close enough to it to not have a problem, so are going to be close, but the null space isn't based on being close to the zero point. It's based on the function taking you to exactly the zero point. So  NT being the empty set with no one in it because no one has exactly that idealized brain amuses me. (Even if it's not exactly one of the ways I think about neurotypicality/averages/social ideals, it's close enough to amuse me.)

The other idea I had was a space of neurotypes, where the zero point represents the idea of neurotypical as default (so basically this is a space that I don't really like, but I recognize it's how society tends to work.) Defining a function for that is honestly even weirder to me than defining it from people to the directed distance thing, though I could maybe make another function from that multi-dimensional directed distance thing to the neurotype labels the brains map to? In that case, NT would actually be "close enough to that ideal to be privileged by it." That's fairly close to the other way I think about neurotypicality/averages/social ideals.

Neither of those things can actually work as linear transformations, at least partially because I don't think any of the people spaces work as vector spaces, and I'm not entirely sure that any of the spaces I'm mapping into work as vector spaces either, plus there isn't people addition to work like vector addition should. Also  NT being the kernel of something instead of null space, cause that's two words for the same thing. Probably some funky associations there too.