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

Monday, October 7, 2013

Something Important to Me

Trigger warning: Descriptions of ableism

I applied to be a blog correspondent or whatever it's called for the Gilman, since I really think that they need more representation from groups that don't get to study abroad much. There's a lot of groups like that, and developmentally disabled is one of them. So I applied.
One of the prompts was to talk about something important to me.

Disability rights is of huge importance for me, especially developmental/cognitive disability rights. That's because I'm Autistic. (For those of you who have some knowledge about disability already: my choice to use capitalized identity first language is deliberate.) I care because it's about me, about people like me, about people who were and will be like me. People like me have been (and often still are) kept out of schools, told that we can not do certain jobs, prevented from marrying, lost custody of our children. It's not because our skills are wrong for the things we want to do: it's because people consistently conflate disability with no ability at all. That's not what it means. It means a different set of abilities that doesn't match the ability set we're expected to have. It means needing to do certain things differently and needing help with certain other things.
I'm lucky. I was in general education for my entire school career, which means I have a typical diploma, go to a typical college, and am welcome in most academic and professional settings. I'm also unlucky: Because I do well with academics, it is assumed that I am “smart enough” to figure out, essentially, how not to be disabled. That's not how disability works. No amount of intellect will magically give me the ability to read your nonverbal cues or anyone else's, no sheer academic force will make a cognitively inaccessible text make sense, no IQ score removes the sensory processing issues that make strobe lights hell. It's not “letting my disability win.” It's recognizing that disability means there are some things I just can't do. Without that recognition, it's nearly impossible to get the accommodations that let me really succeed. That's what disability rights is about, to some extent: It's about understanding that there are differences that need to be accommodated for, recognizing how to accommodate, and then doing it. It's about recognizing that disability and personhood are not somehow exclusive with each other. The ADA says “Disability is a natural part of the human experience.” Disability rights means knowing that and acting accordingly.

[I know which way I prefer, by the way. I'd rather people think I can think my way out of disability than that I can't do anything at all. I just want people to realize that, you know, there are things wrong with how we handle disabled people who test as smart.]

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