Note For Anyone Writing About Me

Guide to Writing About Me

I am an Autistic person,not a person with autism. I am also not Aspergers. The diagnosis isn't even in the DSM anymore, and yes, I agree with the consolidation of all autistic spectrum stuff under one umbrella. I have other issues with the DSM.

I don't like Autism Speaks. I'm Disabled, not differently abled, and I am an Autistic activist. Self-advocate is true, but incomplete.

Citing My Posts

MLA: Hillary, Alyssa. "Post Title." Yes, That Too. Day Month Year of post. Web. Day Month Year of retrieval.

APA: Hillary, A. (Year Month Day of post.) Post Title. [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://yesthattoo.blogspot.com/post-specific-URL.

Monday, June 10, 2013

An Action Project Proposal

Trigger Warning: Mentions of sexual assault and abuse

My proposed action project is to create and begin distributing a resource packet relating to consent for people whose disabilities can affect communication and their potential partners. There may also be portions which are helpful for parents and service providers as educational tools, but the main target audience are those who actually have these disabilities and those who may be in relationships with them. It would include some checklist/inventories useable for figuring out what kinds of communication are usable, what activities may be sensory issues or otherwise triggering, and under what situations it is and is not OK to proposition each other for sexual activities. Other possible access needs and checklists may be included if they appear to be needed, and images that can be used as either communication cards or boards using velcro words or dry-erase markers for customization are also planned.

For distribution purposes, I have a personal Blogspot and Tumblr (yesthattoo.blogspot.com and yesthattoo.tumblr.com,) both of which tend to be disability-heavy in content while being “whatever I want” blogs. I plan to add all resources to one of these places in multiple formats, including large text and white text on a black background, and link to the resource from the other. I also have admin/moderator status on autismachinery.tumblr.com and autismexperts.blogspot.com (both shared projects with other Autistic people) and will be able to share the resource using at least one of those platforms. My contacts at Autism Women's Network and the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN) may also be willing to help share the resource. Finally, this is a resource that our own campus Disability Services, Health Services, LGBT Center (there are studies suggesting that autism and being LGBTQ+ are correlated,) and Neurodiversity Committee may find useful. I do not know which of these on-campus groups I will be able to contact, exactly when I will be able to contact them, or if they are interested in such a resource, so I consider those venues outside the scope of what I aim to do during this shortened semester. They are, however, groups I would aim to work with in the longer term.

As far as similar projects go, Neurodivergent Sexuality attempted to begin a set of inventory checklists for neurodivergent people and their partners, which was partly based on a general checklist found on Scarleteen. Neurodivergent Sexuality's project created a situational boundary checklist, which I plan to use as a starting point/guide in the situational boundary portion of the resource I intent to create and distribute. As both of these items are internet-based, it is difficult to determine if the projects were national or international. The ASAN project on Relationships and Sexuality, which can be accessed at the Autism NOW website, contains several references to consent and a four-page section dedicated to consent which addresses methods of communicating consent when one or both partners is not capable of oral speech. It also contains a fact sheet regarding sexual abuse and developmental disabilities. As ASAN is primarily an American organization and I believe Autism NOW is American as well, I would classify this as a national project. Possibly due to the often internet-based, often geographically scattered nature of Autistic and broader Disability communities, I was not able to find a local project which handled consent specific to disabilities affecting communication, though local projects relating consent are common, such as Tufts University's Consent Culture Network.

This project is needed as many resources related to consent which are not specifically designed for those whose disabilities affect communication typically require that people are able to be in constant communication, which is important, but then fail to take into account the fact that many people are not consistently capable of oral speech and accommodate for this in suggestions. As many assume that people with any sort of disability must be asexual and/or undesirable, and as many people with developmental disabilities are assumed incapable of consent, this is a needed change. While making mainstream resources more inclusive would be ideal, having something dedicated that works now needs to come first. (The exclusion may also be related to a conflation of oral speech and communication where people think that if a person can not speak, they can't learn/use any other method of communication.)

The project fits under the umbrella of gender and women's studies/issues because gender and disability intersect- if consent culture and resources on communicating consent normally fit under this umbrella, then making these resources accessible to people with disabilities must also fit. Ending sexual abuse and sexual assault is a feminist issue, and 83% of developmentally disabled women will be sexually assaulted at some point in their lives, many multiple times. Many people whose disabilities affect communication are assumed incapable of consent, with courts and care providers sometimes concluding inability to consent without ever having provided education on the subject. (This also seems to primarily happen to women, though I am not sure.) One court barred an autistic woman from having sex and requiring that she have 1-on-1 supervision at all times to prevent her from engaging in sexual activity because she couldn't prove her understanding of the fact that she could say no (Beckford.) Ironically, nearly half of the sexual abuse we face is done by service providers- to “protect” a woman from sexual abuse, a court ordered that she be 1-on-1 with the demographic most likely to abuse her at all times. In another, despite several psychologists claiming otherwise, a group home insisted that a woman living there was unable to consent to sexual relations and therefore would not work to allow her to cohabit with her husband (Dolak.) The lack of proper consent education both opens people up to abuse and makes it harder to express and explore sexuality.

Works Cited/Mentioned:
Beckford, Martin. "Autistic Woman Banned from Having Sex in Latest Court of Protection Case." The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, 03 Feb. 2012. Web. 24 May 2013.
Consent Culture Network. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 June 2013. <https://www.facebook.com/ConsentCultureNetwork>.
Corinna, Heather, and CJ Turett. "Yes, No, Maybe So: A Sexual Inventory Stocklist." Scarleteen. N.p., 10 June 2010. Web. 09 June 2013.
Dolak, Kevin. "Mentally Disabled Couple's Legal Battle Ends with New Home." ABC News. ABC News Network, 23 May 2013. Web. 24 May 2013
Neurodivergent Sexuality. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 June 2013. <http://neurodivergentsexuality.tumblr.com/>.
"Relationships & Sexuality." Autism NOW. Ed. Elesia Ashkenazy and Melanie Yergeau. N.p., 2013. Web. 9 June 2013.

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