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

Sunday, June 30, 2013

I've been at SDS

SDS is the Society for Disability Studies, and it had it's annual conference. I'm actually still there, I get home Sunday night, but the presentations are done. It's been cool.
There was stuff on disability rights, there was a panel that I was on about intersectionality stuff and Autistic culture, I got a chance to talk to a bunch of scholarly people. Robert McRuer doesn't actually hate me. [I have anxiety issues. My first presentation at a conference ever, I criticized the use of the word "crip" in his book because of historical exclusion of cognitively disabled folks from the broader disability community, and how choosing a word that needs stretching to apply to a group that has historically been excluded isn't awesome, even if it is stretchy and mostly has/is starting to stretch. He... was at the conference. Not on my same panel, thank goodness, but at it. 太尴尬了!(SO awkward!) And I was thus convinced that he hated me. Which is totally not how it works in academia, but still. Turns out he actually thinks I'm pretty cool.] There was a silent auction. I'm coming home with three books, two T-shirts, and a pile of papers I didn't have when I got here. I learned stuff. I made connections. I may have gotten myself invited to participate on a different panel for next year. One where the title and description is less self-narrating zoo exhibity. (The stuff I actually talked about wasn't self-narrating zoo exhibit. But the title was a little bit like we were representing Autistic people to the broader disability community.)
There was some cool stuff. There was a paper about the representation of autism that was pretty cool, critiquing the whole "unimaginative genius" and "savant" set of representations. There was the panel I was on. A friend of mine was on a panel for emerging scholars (students, generally) who were doing disability studies research. His presentation was good, and I have a copy of the paper he's writing with an associate professor. Dr. Grace offered to help me get my paper on the erasure of Queer Autistic people finished up and to help me find a place to publish it, too. Since I don't have much in the way of organization or remembering to keep working on a thing that I don't have in my face, that could be very helpful. It depends on if my paper gets accepted for the Inspire virtual conference, I think- that would give me a solid deadline to get it done by, which means it would happen. Without that, I could forget about it and then it would be not a thing. That would be bad, since I think it's important and I think it fits in well with disability/queer theory. There's a lot of places the problem comes from, and I want to cover all of them. Caretakers, parents, staff, queer communities, sometimes even the disability community. It's... complicated.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Health and Reproductive Rights

This last topic was on health and reproductive rights, so that's what the response is about. Comments in brackets are me adding later- maybe I thought of it later, maybe it's an aside that I do want to make but that I didn't really think fit in the response for class.

Trigger Warning: Lack of Bodily Autonomy (context of abortion and healthcare,) references to ableism.

Issues of healthcare and reproductive rights contribute significantly to feminst thought and to feminism by way of being significant issues discussed and acted upon. Healthcare and reproductive rights are also huge areas for intersectionality, as classism, racism, heterosexism, and ableism all have the ability to act on issues surrounding healthcare and reproductive rights, tending to do so in gendered ways. When ableism is used as a tool of racism in gendered ways, as in the sterlization of women of color on the basis of their being "mentally deficient" (Carastathis,) this is one of the things that feminism must fight, just as it must when classism means that poor people are seen as unfit and sterilized (Lee and Shaw 296.) [Yes, I know feminists often fail at this, especially white feminists. It's still a fail.] This still continues as a subtler pressure, with Medicaid paying for sterilization but not all birth control options (Lee and Shaw 290,) but it is now illegal to forcibly sterilize someone in almost all cases*. [Yes, mental disability is the exception, the whole "three generations of imbeciles is enough" ruling never actually got overturned. Individual orders for this sort of thing sometimes are, but that's not enough. More on this at the bottom.]
It also contributes indirectly in that it is extremely difficult to work outside the home or to spend time advocating for other rights if one is constantly pregnant and/or lactating. The resulting loss for women in terms of autonomy, identity, and development as the primary caregivers (Lee and Shaw 293) is just one more way in which reproductive rights and healthcare contribute to feminism.
Finally, healthcare and reproductive issues can and have served as initial issues which get people involved in feminsm or as the main feminist issues people engage with. The Boston Women's Health Collective is one example of this (Rosen qtd. in Lee and Shaw 291,) as is the fight for birth control Sanger describes. It was the death of a woman from a botched abortion, one who had wanted to prevent getting pregnant again, that galvanized her into action (Sanger 311.)
I think that feminism has made positive progress in these areas for much of its history, between getting abortions back and making contraception more widely available. However, the increasing restrictions on abortion including the ban on partial-birth abortions that only left provision for life of the pregnant person, not health (Cooney 313,) is a significant step backwards. [Yeah... that's a problem. Seriously, you can't legally take use the organs from a corpse to keep another person alive without the consent of the person the corpse used to be. But there are cases where a pregnant person can be forced to do so. Major bodily autonomy issue. Also, WOW Texas. There were a lot of impressively bad things being tried to get SB5 through, and a lot of impressively awesome things done by people trying to fillibuster it. Wendy Davis and Leticia van de Putte are names I think everyone should know.]
[So now we get to part of the discussion question where I go: wait, what? I really don't get how people think feminism would cause the increase in STDs, but I do see how feminism could lead to more people knowing about and getting checked for them.]
In terms of sexually transmitted infections, I am not sure that feminism is either a contributing factor or an inherent part of the solution, but it is important to think about while finding solutions. It was noted that some women change their communication about condoms based on peer norms and their partner's attitude towards condoms (Lewis, Miguez-Burbano, and Malow 323,) while partner attitudes was not mentioned as a major factor in men's choices regarding communication about condoms. With a gendered issue that includes women choosing not to bring something up when they feel the man may not react well, we see a point for feminism to enter into the conversation. It is not so much a way that the issue of sexually transmitted infections can be talked about itself as one thing to think about while searching for solutions.

*Forced sterilization does still get ordered- it was ordered for a woman with learning difficulties (UK term for intellectual disability) in 2011 (Ross), a US murder case in 2005 (Associated Press), and a Massachusetts woman with bipolar and schizophrenia in 2012(Cook.) The 2012 order was overturned, but the fact that Buck vs. Bell itself was never overturned means that such orders can still be given to those who have mental illnesses or developmental disabilities. It's only illegal in most situations, not all. It's still a feminist issue, too, since it's specifically happening to women. [Should be, anyways- I know that many feminists fail at the whole intersectionality thing, which is a fail. And, you know, pro-choice folks should be yelling about this sort of thing because it's still taking away choice.]

Associated Press. "Judge Orders Woman to Undergo Sterilization." Fox News. FOX News Network, 9 Feb. 2005. Web. 19 June 2013.
Cook, Michael. "Massachusetts Judge Ordered Forced Abortion and Sterilization of Mentally Ill Woman." BioEdge. New Media Foundation, 21 Jan. 2012. Web. 20 June 2013.
Cooney, Elanor. "The Way It Was." 2004. Women's Voices, Feminist Visions: Classic and Contemporary Readings. By Susan M. Shaw and Janet Lee. 5th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2011. 312-319. Print.
Lewish, Josh E; Maria-Jose Miguez-Burbano; and Robert M. Malow. "HIV Risk Behavior Among College Students in the United States." 2009. Women's Voices, Feminist Visions: Classic and Contemporary Readings. By Susan M. Shaw and Janet Lee. 5th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2011. 319-326. Print.Ross, Tim. "Woman with Learning Difficulties Could Be Forcibly Sterilised." The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, 14 Feb. 2011. Web. 18 June 2013.
Sanger, Margaret. "My Fight for Birth Control." 1931. Women's Voices, Feminist Visions: Classic and Contemporary Readings. By Susan M. Shaw and Janet Lee. 5th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2011. 310-312. Print.
Shaw, Susan M., and Janet Lee. "Health and Reproductive Rights" 
Women's Voices, Feminist Visions: Classic and Contemporary Readings. 5th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2011. 279-309. Print.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Reporting on the Voting Rights Act: You're Doing It Wrong.

Look at this headline. Just look at it.

Yes, that's the thing they want you to think about with a major piece of the Voting Rights Act taken down by the Supreme Court. Not "States can make laws that make it harder for people of color to vote." Not "States can make laws that make it harder for poor people to vote." Not "Texas is already trying to push through a law that requires rather specific ID in classist ways." (An expired out-of-state hunting license is acceptable, but a social security card is not.) Not "Voter suppression is a thing that people have already been trying to do and it's about to get worse." Those are all things that need addressing related to this. Headlinified (I know, I didn't make them attention-grabbing enough,) they would all make sense to use. They cover big issues.
Wendy Davis "will probably lose her Senate seat" over this ruling? I honestly doubt that, even with the redistricting that Texas is now aiming to do and will be able to do, even with the voter suppression they will be trying to do (are already trying to do.) She's the big name person in the fillibuster of a bill that 80% of the state opposed, and she had 180,000+ people watching the live stream of the chamber as she did her bit and after. If her campaign managers even resemble competent at their jobs, she can keep her Senate seat. She could probably get something higher up if there's an election for it soon enough. It's possible that they might manage to cost her a seat in the state Senate with that, but it seems unlikely.
Now Senator Leticia van de Putte? I think she is at a huge risk of losing her seat. She was impressive, she was important, but many people do not realize who she is. She is a Latina state Senator, and she is the one who kept calling parliamentary inquiries. She's the one who asked, as a parliamentary inquiry, at what point a woman must raise her hand and voice to be heard over her male colleagues. No, really, that was van de Putte, not Davis. (People crediting white people with statements and ideas actually made by women of color isn't a new thing. Folks steal Neurodivergent K's ideas all the time too.) She was the one who lit the fire, who got the crowd chanting in that crowdibuster (filibuster by crow, yes I made that up.) She did so many things, she is a woman of color (I doubt Texas will be able to keep her from voting specifically, but they are suppressing voters like her,) and so few know who she is. Her seat? I think it's at risk. Her right to vote, even? Texas is taking a shot at it. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Might it be autism in Alanna of Trebond's family?

I'm doing research (also known as re-reading all the Tamora Pierce novels and short stories) for a chapter/essay thing that I'm writing for FYT Writes A Book. (Heads up that FYT swears, FYT stands for F Yeah Tortall.) It's about neurodiversity and the portrayal of neurodiversity stuff in the Tamora Pierce novels. And... I'm kind of wondering if the whole Trebond line is autistic? I know that autism tends to run in families. At the start of my re-reads, my question was if Thom might be autistic. It didn't occur to me that Alanna might be too, since most of her self-esteem issues as a page can be chalked up pretty well to living a lie. But there are some bits that had me wonder. I know that autistic people who are generally kind of clumsy but spend a lot of time on the one thing can and do get really good at the one thing- Neurodivergent K is just about as clumsy as I am but was a competitive gymnast. And we have it in canon that Alanna was initially clumsy as well as being smaller/weaker, and that she spent lots of extra hours using a much-too-heavy sword learning to use it before she became decent with it. There is perseveration. Thom and Alanna both seem to do it. Neither of them seem to understand other people particularly well, though the way it comes out is different between the two. Thom openly dislies people (or seems to- we do not here from him that he dislikes others, but others have the distinct impression that he only cares about Alanna and himself.) Alanna admits to not understanding people and goes to Myles for instruction on understanding people as she becomes better friends with Myles. She also seems convinced that she will be disliked for the reasons that she is different, and her friends notice this about her. She can't believe that they like her because she is different. This could certainly be explained by guilt about lying to everyone about her gender, but it is also in line with how an autistic person who wants friends and finds people confusing could feel. (Her difficulty with the concept that she may do as she wishes and that friends will defend this is also in line with someone who has received the bullying common to many autistic people.) We also have that Alanna is intelligent and blunt, that she can't control her temper (but often wishes she could!) and has a tendency to overstretch herself, believing herself to be perfectly fine right up to the point of collapse. This lack of awareness of how close she is to her limits is also a common trait in autistic people, and it is a tendency that we see continue to lead to collapse through all the stories where she is the protagonist. So far, I have only re-read the first novel from her quartet, but I suspect the text will continue to support the conclusion that it is autism running in the Trebond line. (Autism was once referred to as childhood schizophrenia and thought to be a form of psychosis. Many lay people still think autism is a form of “insanity,” which isn't a formal diagnosis anyways. It's not exactly a stretch to assume that citizens of Tortall would not be aware of the differences between autism and various things which get lumped together as insanity, so I don't find the fact that the difference in her family is always referred to as insanity to be an issue with the argument that autism runs in the family. Rather, it supports the argument since autism is one of the mental and neurological differences that does run in families, and it must be one of the differences that runs in families.)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Academicy Things

So I sent in an abstract for this virtual conference for students looking at ability studies. The deadline for doing so isn't until July 30, so you have time if you want to do one yourself. The call for abstracts is here.

This is my abstract:
Autistic people with queer identities often find their identities erased from many directions. Society as a whole tends to assume that autistic people are either asexual or are hypersexual, needing others to control their sexuality. Additional labels of intellectual disability can increase the likelihood of that issue. Queer communities often have ableism and accessibility issues. The broader disability communities have history of excluding cognitive disability, and this history of exclusion often affects Queer Disabled communities. Queer Autistic people, then, face erasure from parents, caregivers, society as a whole, disability communities, queer communities, and sometimes even queer disability communities. This paper will examine these forms of erasure using a combination of previous academic works and accounts written by LGBTQ+ Autistic people.
Basically, I'm going to be talking about how Queer Autistic people are ignored, how people neglect to mention that we (yes, I'm Queer,) exist, how we get excluded from stuff, and how some people actively use one identity to prevent us from realizing or expressing the other. I actually talked about that a little bit a while back, with the "You're not trans*, you're just autistic!" being a thing that people were worried about hearing when a study found that trans* people are more likely than the general population to be autistic. I've gone back and made some language changes a couple times in that piece as I learned more about trans* stuff.

Also, I'm going to be talking about intersectionality stuff at Society for Disability Studies. That abstract I submitted is totally relevant to why I'm talking there. The fact that I know Dr. Grace of Tiny Grace Notes is also relevant.

And I found a thing. It's a cool thing. It's Autonomy, the Critical Journal of Interdisciplinary Autism Studies. Since everything I've done with my paper about the erasure of Queer Autistic people so far has been talking about it at conferences, I might be able to submit it for publication there. That would be cool. I might go for Disability Studies Quarterly first, I'm not sure. I think DSQ is currently higher-profile, but I want this one to become high-profile. I'm not a big enough name to make anything high-profile, though. I'm not really a name at all, just some blogger on the internet who sometimes writes more academically and cites sources. Being an Autistic blogger, though, I suspect that I am right in the audience that Autonomy is looking to get authors from.
The main point is that Autonomy is a thing that you should check out, and it's a thing that should happen and be a thing. Interdisciplinary Autism Studies: Part of Interdisciplinary Neurodiversity Studies, which also needs to be a thing.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

That Wasn't Being a Superstar. No, Really.

I went to my old elementary school with some other alum from my high school ultimate team for this clinic. Basically, go into the gym class and teach some fourth graders. That's why I was there. We were showing people how to throw. One kid had what I'm pretty sure was a broken leg. The cast was in the right spot, of the right size, to be a broken leg, and the crutches looked like injury crutches, not chronic illness crutches. He was pretty bummed out about the whole thing where a bunch of high school and college kids were teaching a thing and he couldn't participate. (Well, actually, he could. And did. That's how I wound up being called a superstar. No, I didn't deserve it.)
I told him that I couldn't really teach him to throw backhand sitting, but I could teach him how to throw forehand sitting. The gym teacher told me that he couldn't put weight on his right leg. (Not an issue, he's going to be sitting on the bleachers because you can totally throw forehand like that. It doesn't take too much thought to teach that one sitting down. I'm sure backhand can be done too, but it would take longer and we only had a short time with these kids.) So that's basically what I did. I taught a kid how to throw a frisbee forehand sitting down, and he got pretty good at it.
The kid was happy. The gym teacher was happy. (Dealing with an upset nine/ten year old isn't fun, I think she has reason to be happy.) I was happy because more people playing ultimate is win. Also, it gave me an excuse to be off to the side in less chaosy areas. Nope, can't go into the middle of the gym with 50+ kids all throwing things, I'm teaching this kid. Busy. And of course, right thing to do. It didn't look like anyone else had a way for him to participate, so I figured one out. It's not super-star, it's just what should be done and I did it. I... actually do know why they called it a super-star thing to do, I just wish that weren't a thing.
See, it's the idea that figuring out how to make anything accessible to a person with an impairment is above and beyond. It's not. It's what you're supposed to do. I don't think it's legally mandated in a case like this, since he's not permanently disabled, he's just got a broken leg, but it's the right thing. It's also not that hard to do. If I'd been going for a couple weeks instead of a one-off, I'd have figured out how to throw backhand sitting down too. Figure out those two things, and you could set up a wheelie league for Ultimate. Not even joking, it could be a thing. (Not sure how well it would work mixing wheelchair users and non-users on the field, since jumping is a pretty big thing on the "typical" Ultimate field, but that's not an issue on a "field" (probably not actually grass) where no one is jumping. Maybe more thoughts on that if I talk to actual wheelchair users and it turns out they're interested and it doesn't exist yet, I'm bringing my disc to Society for Disability Studies.)
It bothers me when people think of including people as above and beyond because if it's above and beyond, it's not expected. It needs to be expected. Not just for the kid I taught to throw forehand siting down today: his leg will heal. For everyone. Disability is part of the human experience, and the way we live needs to reflect that. People with disabilities need to be able to participate, and the question shouldn't be "Can this person participate?" but "How can this person participate?"
Edit: Wheelchair ultimate is a thing. UNH has it.

Monday, June 24, 2013

I don't even know what this is

I don't even remember what this is from. I found it on my computer, in my autism and disability folder.

I interact mostly with people I know or who I have an activity/class with, which is how I get to know people. I generally do so in person or over the internet, since I hate the phone. I have been told that people tend to like me, though I can't tell very well for myself that this is the case. (People also apparently think I am weird, which is completely expected.)
Socializing problems: Yes. I have a lot of trouble knowing when people are joking or when sarcasm is being used, which can make things difficult. I also don't get most euphemisms, which means that I am confused and will sometimes accidentally use one. Whoops. And of course, there is the issue of the white lie. Those confuse me so much. I won't tell them, which pisses some people off, and I can't really detect them, which frustrates others.
Faces/emotions: Sometimes? Kind of? I can put them into three or four main categories, anyways. Positive (smiley stuff, though I can't always tell if a person is smiling unless they also show teeth,) neutral (not excited, but not upset either,) negative (sad, frustrated, tired, etc,) and sometimes I can yank mad/angry/frustrated types out of the negative category to make their own.  If I get it right, I can react reasonably well, but it's a big if.
Uh, the socializing problem really isn't countered, unless you count "hanging out with people who don't care that I fail at social" to be a counter. Or "hanging out with other autistic people," who I am more likely to be able to read and who are more likely to be OK with my failure to read them since they know it can be hard to read people, often from having the same problem themselves.

I want to invent mathematical nanoscience and then teach it at MIT. :D.
Failing that, I want to either do nanotechnology or math in academia, probably as a professor, and still hopefully at MIT. I also want to have kids and get people to STFU about how tragic autism is.
I am happy when I am with my fiance, when I am writing, when I am doing research, when I am doing math, when I am doing happy stimming and no one is a jerk about it, when I have olives, when I have time to relax (computer games, sewing, reading, knitting, making chainmail, LARPing)
Being Autistic (I am very strongly identity first- I do not "have autism," I "am Autistic" is only a problem when other people try to make it one, or when I need to do a thing that I really can't do. On its own, it doesn't make me any less happy. In fact, some of my best happy-making things only work BECAUSE I'm Autistic.
What happiness is? Well, that's hard (but then, isn't it for everyone?) I'd say happiness is when everything is so good that I just need to wiggle and flap and that makes it even BETTER.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

A Poem About Writing a Poem

Old writing time! This was the result of an 8th grade assignment to write a sonnet.
A sonnet I’ve just been assigned to write,
But what to write of I see not.
And as I think –the lack of time begins to bite.
One doable topic, is all I need, I thought.

Time runs out and it’s sink or swim
“I need a topic,” I do shout.
My chances of finding a topic are slim.
I don’t know what to write about!

“What can I write about?” I ask my mom.
She suggests my sister’s fish,
Then a love poem to made-up Tom.
I’d rather write from the view of a dish!

Here is something I did notice:
It all rhymes- I’ll turn in this.
Yes, I have an odd sense of humor. I wrote my "sonnet" about having no clue what to write a sonnet about. I do things like that on a semi-regular basis, actually, and I have evidence right here that I've been doing it at least since I was thirteen.  My "Autistic People Should..." post was actually about me trying to figure out what to write about. (Hey, remember Autistic People Should and Autistic People Are? Those were actually pretty cool things.)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Assorted Gender and Women's Studies Stuff

Today you get two weeks of my responses to classmates Current Events stuff. Each one gets separate trigger warnings.

Trigger Warning: Pregnancy discrimination

In response to a report on a proposed act about pregnancy discrimination and another student's response to it:
I think that part of it is the idea that women don't even really belong in the workplace and are just meant for making babies- enough discrimination when we try to have a career and a family, and many women will choose one or the other. (I think they expect us to choose babies. I also think that the ways that pregnant people are prevented from getting abortions is in line with that, since it is essentially an attempt to force anyone who becomes pregnant to choose a family. It's hard to get an abortion, and it's hard to stay in the workforce without one: People who can get pregnant are pushed out.)
Had I been the employer of any of these women, I would have treated their medical needs as, well, medical needs. Pregnancy can cause disabilities, pregnancy can cause medical issues. They need to be treated with just as much respect as ones that didn't come from pregnancy. (Yes, I am suspicious that some of these women could claim that pregnancy caused temporary disabilities, which would then be covered under the ADA, meaning that there would already be two big laws to sue under. The fact that we apparently need a third is unfortunately not a surprise.)
The publicly available article is here. 

Trigger Warning: Homophobia and pregnancy discrimination

This one was on a Catholic school having fired a woman who was in a relationship with another woman and became pregnant using artificial insemination.
When I read the article initially, it seemed most likely to me that the issue the school took was with the pregnancy being out of wedlock, the fact that the relationship was not heterosexual, or a combination of the two, most likely the combination. With artificial insemination not leading to any disciplinary action against a man who used it with his wife, the insemination is not the true root issue- sexism and/or heterosexism must be at play, and that means discrimination.
My stance on artificial insemination is that if the person being inseminated chooses it, then it is fine- I hold that people should be able to do what they want with their own bodies so long as they do not harm anyone else, and that the Catholic Church calling it immoral is similarly archaic to their issues with divorce and abortion. (The issues they take with all of these things may be different, but all seem to be rooted in sexism. Abortion allows a person with a uterus to choose not to have children even when birth control, also considered immoral, fails. Divorce means that the woman is no longer dependent on and needing to obey her husband. Artificial insemination allows a person who can get pregnant to do so without intercourse.)
I do not think that any employer, religious or not, should be able to regulate behavior that is done off the clock while not representing the employer. I do not think religious institutions should get a pass on this separation of work life from personal life, and thus I do not believe that a religious group should be able to make that sort of regulation.
There were actually three articles cited in the student report that was responding too, 1, 2, and 3, plus a federal discrimination fact sheet.
Note that source number 3 is from the Daily Mail UK. Take anything from that article which can't be confirmed elsewhere with a grain of salt.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

That's Not What It's About

Trigger Warning: ableism, ABA, 

I saw some stuff (was directed to it, really) on Autistic Pride Day that I wish never was. Autistic Pride Day is Autistic pride, not passing pride or ABA pride or pretending to be normal pride. It's definitely not parental pride for a kid who is passing because ABA taught them to pretend to be normal at all costs. It's definitely not sibling pride for that.
That's not what Autistic Pride Day is about.
There probably is someone who would actually say this sort of analog, which is horrible, but for anyone who can actually see how misplaced it would be (please, tell me you can see it, please...) this would be similar. (I'm something non-binary for gender, bi/pan area for romantic attraction, presumably the same for sexual attraction but pretty close to asexual, just so you know: I'm not a cis-het person making an analogy to Queer issues.) So, the analog, written like it was a sibling writing this:
On Pride Day, I just wanted to talk about my sister. She's bi, and she's... androgyne? I think that's the word. But she's made so much progress! She's been working at it, and now you can barely tell that she's bi or androgyne. She'd have to tell you, or you'd never guess. She's been working hard her whole life to get to this point, and I am so proud of her.
Yeah. That sounds pretty horrible, right? (Yes, Lovaas, I know you'd find this totally appropriate too. I know because you tested out your behavioral stuff on feminine boys/possibly transwomen who you thought were "at risk for homosexuality" in addition to autistic people. Heck, I don't even know which group you thought of as your main group and which was the side project, if either. I really don't care, it's horrible for both regardless. I know most ABA people don't like to talk about that, but yeah. Same person, same methods, trying to make people not Queer and not autistic.)
That's what it sounds like, when you write about how proud you are of your kid for seeming less autistic or how if you look past their autism/don't think of them as autistic and that's why you can see the awesomeness on Autistic Pride Day.
Autistic Pride Day is about being proud of who we are as autistic people. It's not about being proud of who we are because we can pass. That's seriously not inclusive, not all of us even can pass. I can only pass when people are really clueless, and I suspect most of you reading this will think of me as the high-functioning goal for your kid or something. (If you want your kid to be like me, stop teaching them not to flap or rock or spin, stop demanding they sit still because guess what I can't do those things and that's OK. Functioning labels aren't great, and I'm not the "high functioning blogger" you might think of.)
It's about "I'm Autistic and awesome!" and "My autism helps my awesome this way!" and "I don't pass and that's fine" and "Ha ha ha stim ALL the stims because stimming is awesome and you should be jealous because I can experience the win of a good stim buahahahaha!" It's not about pretending not to be autistic, it's about celebrating who we are, blatantly and proudly and obviously autistic.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Autistic Pride Day

Trigger Warning: References to murder of autistic people

I could have sworn that it was June 19, but apparently Autistic Pride Day is June 18. That means I write my post to close they day rather than to start it.
I am Autistic.
My brain is different, the way I move is different. I don't pretend to be the same. I just insist that it's OK to be different. We don't need to be the same. I don't even want to be the same. If we were all the same, it'd be kind of boring.
We have a community. Actually, we have many communities.
We come together for the hard things, like reminding the world that your kid being autistic doesn't justify murdering them. Reminding the world that we hear them, and that we know what they're saying, and that their reactions encourage copycat crimes, so just stop it already.
We find time to come together to mourn while we fight. (I wish we could just mourn. But the fight to be seen as human doesn't wait.)
We come together for the happy things, like the Autistic Artistic Carnival (I'm in it again) and Autism Positivity.
We come together to speak on whatever it is we think needs saying. Loud Hands, Autistics Speaking Day.
We make physical communities, ever so briefly. Autreat. Autism Campus Inclusion Leadership Academy.
We plan longer-term physical communities. Autistic House. Not a group home of service providers taking care of (and controlling) us. A pile of us who want to live together figuring out ways to combine the skills we have so that we can choose if we want any neurotypical able-bodied service providers and who they are if we do. Because we have different sets of things we can do. Some of us can cook to keep ourselves fed. Some of us can keep our spaces clean. Some of us can hold paying jobs, but can't really do either of the first two things. It's all OK.
Some of us get married and have kids. Some of us don't. Some of us are prevented from realizing that we can if we want to or are prevented from doing so. Some of us just don't want to. We're people, and we're Autistic, and those two things are perfectly compatible.
I know it's still revolutionary to be OK with who we are. That's one of the things that needs changing. But it's Autistic Pride Day, and I am proud. I am proud of who we are, and I am proud of what we do.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Defiance: Successful and Important

People who have known me for years tend not to think of me that way, but my stubborn streak can and does manifest as a defiant streak when the thing I want is against what people in power think I should do. I've actually been ignoring what my school wants me to do for a long time. I think third grade was the first time that I actually shouted at a school administrator, and I've done it several times since. I'm usually better at being a controlled angry (still angry, but I'm hitting your verbal pressure points instead of yelling at you,) but sometimes a nice shouting match during which I explain at full volume exactly why you are not capable of stopping me so you'd better get used to it is exactly what's needed to remind someone that official authority and actual ability to make me do what they want me to do aren't always the same. That's the thing. It's not. Punishing me for not doing it? Sure. But what happens when it's counterproductive to punish my defiance? That's happened. And if I pick my battles such that punishing my refusal to do what they want requires pushing me further from what they actually want (also a thing,) then I can get my way fairly well.
It's about power. Often it's about reminding people that they don't have quite as much power as they think they do, or that I'm not actually powerless and am aware of my own power. One fun example was with my guidance counselor back before the start of my senior year of high school. I'd been signed up for semesters each of creative writing, digital music, animation, and java. Creative writing and digital music were because I wanted them. Animation and java were there because two of my academic classes wound up being at the same time, I couldn't take both (and thankfully got my counselor to drop the right one,) and had just gone with the suggestions of the counselor for what to put in that space because I didn't really like any of the options. Turns out later that I needed a study hall. She dropped me from my electives because she thought animation and java would look better for college. (She had pulled the same thing trying to get me to not sign up for creative writing again in the first place: She knew better than to try that.) Needless to say, I was upset. I started off nice, being all “Well, I disagree because....” I don't remember what all I said then. It didn't work. I knew why she wasn't fixing my schedule: Digital music and creative writing “don't look as good for college” if you're very much the math/science student. So how can I make her enforcement of the classes that make me “look good for college” on my schedule actually make me look worse for college? That's the pressure point. Being constantly in trouble for cutting classes and my study hall looks a whole lot worse than doing well in an “easy” class that's not relevant to the majors I seemed likely to (and did) declare. So: “I know when and where the electives I initially signed up for are. I highly suggest you make my schedule match where I'm going to be.” That's the defiant streak out. That got action. I left her office that day with an updated schedule that had creative writing and digital music back on it and a study hall replaced animation and java, as it was supposed to.
That one only works if the reason they're pushing is because of a fear of how I look on paper, though. It worked because she had my best interest in mind and just disagreed on what my best interest was. I come up with a stubbornness level where her refusal to let me do what I want is going to be worse for her than letting me do what I want. That's the part that carries over. If you can find the position to take where it costs them more to refuse than to give in, that's now your weapon. Be careful, because it tends to mean a major hit to your relationship (not always, but often enough that you should assume that it will,) but that's the big gun. (In that story, it did cost something on my relationship with the guidance counselor, but not as much as expected. She also respected my stubbornness instead of deciding it was pathological, so that was a thing.)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Cities Restaurant in Foggy Bottom: STAY AWAY if Sensory-Sensitive

I went there with the Autism Campus Inclusion thing ASAN ran. And it was horrible. I got overloaded and had to leave. Other people had to step out. And it was nothing like what they said it would be. So I left them a horrible review on Yelp. They deserved it. This is it.
Cities restaurant in Washington DC was atrocious. Truly atrocious. I was there with the Autistic Self Advocacy Network for a group dinner with speakers from the government, and I could not understand much of what the speakers said. Prior to booking, the organizer had spoken to a manager on the phone about what our needs would be. Promises were made, including for a quiet, private space ideal for speakers. These promises were not kept. Instead of quiet, the way the restaurant was set up funneled noise from the regularly scheduled (bad) live music into our space. Like many Autistic people, I have sensory processing issues, and this sort of noise is a disability-related access barrier for many of us. It is especially so when there is a speaker who we are supposed to be listening to. One of our organizers spoke to a manager during the meal. On one such occasion, the manager promised us ten minutes without music for the speakers to use, starting then. That didn't happen either. The live band was slightly quieter for less than five minutes after this, which is not at all the same as ten minutes without music. The noise load at the restaurant was such that I had to leave partway through the meal, before the entree was served, which is a great disappointment as this dinner was supposed to be an important networking opportunity for the members of our group. 
I understand that restaurants are often loud. I understand that bars are often loud. This is not my issue (I won't claim to like it, but it's not why I consider this experience to be horrendous.) The issue is that had Cities either been honest about their inability to accommodate the needs of our group (only different from those of a typical business dinner in that disability turns the broken promises into an access barrier as well as a source of frustration) or kept any of the promises they made regarding access, this would not have happened. Cities Restaurant was dishonest throughout, and their inability to either keep their promises or admit to what they could not do deserves sole responsibility for the disaster that dinner was.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

On Easter Seals

Trigger Warnings: Ableism, anti-vax, silencing of autistic people using functioning levels and discussions of such.

Easter Seals:
I heard that you sent an apology and chose not to call autism an epidemic anymore. I'm glad you did it. It was a big step in the right direction. Huge, really. You moved from "It's an epidemic!" to "People are finding out, and we're going to help them get the services they need." One of these is scary. The other is honest. Yes, it can be hard, but help is there, and that's the big thing. (No, I don't like the way services look. But you're not the service provider or really the policy maker, so you're not the one who needs to hear about those issues. It'd be nice, since groups that are getting money have power, but that's not what this response is about.) And you know what? Employment training for adults is one of your things too! So that's another thing that's good. You're putting the focus where it belongs, on actually doing the things rather than saying scary things that increase stigma.
And yes, you're taking a lot of flack for it. It looks to me like a lot of it is from people who think vaccines and autism are related. Going to put it out there that I am fourth generation autistic, at least, direct line of descent. Yes, I'm fully vaccinated and autistic, but genetics. Genetics is a thing, autism runs in families, the big study everyone likes to point to blaming vaccines was found a fraud.
But you know what? That's besides the point too. The point is that autistic people are here, right now, and that referring to autism as an epidemic and a public health crisis does increase stigma. That means that for people who want their autistic children/children with autism to have a better life, calling it those things would be counterproductive even if it were true. (It's not. I really, really wish I hadn't lost the link to the study that found an autism spectrum rate right around 1% in British adults. Not "people living in institutions." General population, adults, 1%, right around where the kids are, no epidemic.)
They're also saying that you "sold out to high functioning adults." No. You listened to autistic people. The people who have the closest relationship to autism there can be for anyone. And it's not as if the people who were asking for the change and thanking you for it are all given the "high functioning" label. (No one ever gave me any functioning label, FYI. High is probably the one I'd get, but there is that whole self-inflicted scars thing, and the can't drive thing, and the can't actually do most activities of daily living thing... they seem to care more about verbal ability, though, and I usually speak well?) Anyways, functioning labels aren't as great as they seem because there are too many variables on what kinds of support needs people have, and some of the people asking for and thanking for the change wouldn't get the "high functioning" label by the standards of anyone who uses them. The idea that only someone considered to be "high functioning" could care about language is a fallacy, and one that comes from the old idea that autistic people wouldn't have thoughts or opinions. We do. Saying otherwise is just another way of denying the right of autistic people to speak about autism, claiming that anyone autistic enough to matter is too autistic to speak- that way, only parents matter. Which is, of course, wrong.
So thank you. Thank you for choosing language that doesn't add to the stigma and focusing on actually giving help. Fear tactics tend to work short term but cost a lot long term, and the cost of epidemic language is one the children will pay and that autistic adults are paying. Thank you for deciding not to add further to that debt.

This is the text of the apology they sent, just for reference:

Dear [recipient]
On Tuesday, we sent you an email about autism and we owe you an apology. We called autism an epidemic and some of you called us out on our language. You're right.
Autism is not an epidemic. Autism is not a public health crisis. Simply put, more people today are living with a diagnosis of autism, in large part because our diagnostic tools are better and more available.
In fact, in the next 20 minutes, a family will be told their child has autism. They'll have questions. They may worry about the future. They may feel lost and alone, unsure where to turn for help. This is where Easter Seals comes in.
Every 20 minutes, a child is diagnosed with autism.
Early diagnosis for young children. Behavioral therapy for school-aged children. Employment training for adults. These are just a few of the programs Easter Seals provides that help people with autism learn, grow and live their lives to the fullest. With your generosity, we can be on the front lines, helping as many people as possible get the support they need to achieve their dreams.
Across the country, all of us are doing more with less.
Not every child with autism receives appropriate services, not every adult can find residential and employment services, and many older adults still need assistance to live in their own homes.
With your financial support, we are able to provide essential services to children and adults living with autism so they can live the lives they choose. But there's so much more we could do.
Thank you for your support and I hope you accept our apology.
Easter Seals

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Gender and sexual scripts (With a dose of #intersectionality, as per usual.)

Trigger Warnings: Sexism, Ableism, Heterosexism. Murder of disabled person by parent+societal sympathy in later notes.

Sex and sexuality are complicated, and so are their interactions with society, with gender, class, race, and ability all interacting with narratives of sexuality. Gender works into expectations of sexuality in many ways, some of which are double standards and some of which tie into other identities. The attempted control by men of women's sexualities through many means (Lee and Shaw 163) has a lot to do with many of these sexualities, including the idea that a first sexual experience is a “loss” of virginity for a woman and makes her somehow “morally sullied” (Valenti 181.) Men are pressured to perform sexuality, while women are taught to express emotional needs instead of just looking for sexual connections (hooks 187-8) which they are often penalized for having with the sham of virginity (Blank qtd. in Valenti 182.) People notice the different standards, too: Cambridge University participated in the I Need Feminism campaign and individual participants noted that their sex ed talked about the penis but not the clitoris (#54,) and that women are portrayed as passive participants in relationships (#95.) The gendering of the terms for those who have a lot of sex or who have sex with many partners is also relevant to these scripts, noted in the text's learning activity “Speaking of Women and Men” (Lee and Shaw 110) and by a woman who needs feminism because she says she is a player, not a slut (#102.) In addition to the standards being different based on gender, they also become self-contradictory in the case of women, who risk being branded “whores” when they have sex and “frigid bitches” when they don't (#235)
That was just what can happen based on sexist standards alone- there are other identities thatcan and do interact with gender to affect society's scripts for sexuality. Heterosexism comes into play with one participant writing on their board: “I need feminism because... “I'm gay” is NOT an invitation for a threesome, to “watch” or to “convert” me, despite what certain straight men seem to think” (#94.) It stays in play when trying to figure out what virginity even means, as discussed in the cult of virginity. When a person assumes that a woman who acts or is a certain way can't get a man, it is also heterosexism coming into the picture of gendered sexual roles. Martin avoids this in her essay, but the internal voice she speaks of is almost certainly assuming both that the fat woman in question wants a partner (some people are aromantic and/or asexual, as I am!) and that said partner must be a man (lesbian and bisexual women exist!) bell hooks, though, does write about a man and a woman, not challenging heterosexism.
Ableism has its effect when disabled men are often considered to be predators who will have sex with anyone and disabled women are often assumed asexual (Thomas, Bryson, et al 2001,) unattractive, or unable to consent in the case of cognitive disability (Beckford; Dolak.) Ableism also relates in that people have often thought that people with disabilities should not have children and that those who will not have children should not have sex (Knoepfler 1982.) This would also be relevant to heterosexism, as it is typically assumed that people in same-gender relationships will not have children. Sizeism hits with the idea that fat women aren't attractive, with the reality that many of us have internal monologues in which we would not date one or assume they can't find love (Martin 268.) When people assume all women want to lose weight (#260,) this is sizeism, and it falls with heterosexism and gendered sex roles that have women as passive or as just trying to “get” a partner when it assumed that this is for a man. Sizeism and ableism get together since physical disability can lead to being fat.
These messages are definitely coming from media, culture, and family, and much of it is subliminal. People are getting it from somewhere, and the Cambridge Needs Feminism photographs show that people do know what's going on. It also shows that it's everywhere in society, because if it wasn't as pervasive as it is, people knowing about it would be able to make it change faster. Subliminal stuff is harder to detect, too, and that means that people can be taught much longer- subliminal teaching creates the internal monologues Martin talks about, not blatant statements. It also comes through even in some theoretically feminist things: Women are people too? That has men as the default. That is more androcentrism, more sexism. It's not healthy, seeing that “men are people” can just be stated but that “women are people” so often requires that “too” at the end, as if the humanity of women is an afterthought. The (a)sexuality of women is an afterthought. Being read as a woman means being an afterthought, and there's no way that could be healthy.

Works Cited

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.
This is an article about an autistic woman being banned from having sex, essentially because she couldn't demonstrate to the court that she knew she could say no. To enforce the ban, they require one on one supervision for her- by the group statistically most likely to sexually abuse her, caregivers.

Dolak, Kevin. "
Mentally Disabled Couple's Legal Battle Ends with New Home." ABC News. ABC News Network, 23 May 2013. Web. 24 May 2013.
This is an article about the happy ending for a disabled couple who had a legal battle to be able to live together after their marriage. I find it interesting that it was the woman's home that insisted she could not consent, while the man's home believed him capable of consent.

hooks, bell. "Romance: Sweet Love." 2000. Women's Voices, Feminist Visions: Classic and Contemporary Readings. By Susan M. Shaw and Janet Lee. 5th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2011. 186-188. Print.

Knoepfler, Peter T. "Sexuality and Psychiatric Disability." Sexuality and Disability 5.1 (1982): 14-27. Springer Link. Web. 1 Apr. 2013.
This one is also basically what it says on the tin. It talks about how people with psychiatric disabilities can and do still have sex drives and sexual relationships, and it also talks about how many people are uncomfortable with disabled people having sex. Barriers to relationships and sex get talked about too.

Martin, Courtney E. "Love Your Fat Self." 2009. Women's Voices, Feminist Visions: Classic and Contemporary Readings. By Susan M. Shaw and Janet Lee. 5th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2008. 265-268. Print.

#54-305. 2013. Photographs. Cambridge Needs Feminism, Cambridge, England. CUSU Women's Campaign. Facebook, 23-24 Apr. 2013. Web. 13 June 2013.
These photographs are from the “I Need Feminism” set of campaigns in which people take pictures with signs that state why they need feminism. These give a good idea of what messages people in general are getting about gender and feminism (so could the comments, but I stayed away from those because the comments on anything feminist... generally justify feminism.)

Shaw, Susan M., and Janet Lee. "Sex, Power, and Intimacy" Women's Voices, Feminist Visions: Classic and Contemporary Readings. 5th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2011. 163-180. Print.

Thompson, S. Anthony, Mary Bryson, and Suzanne De Castell. "Prospects for Identity Formation for Lesbian, Gay, or Bisexual Persons with Developmental Disabilities." International Journal of Disability, Development and Education 48.1 (2001): 53-65. Web. 30 Mar. 2013.
This is pretty much what it says on the tin- it's about things that allow or disallow people with developmental disabilities forming LGB identities. Some of the stuff is gendered.

Valenti, Jessica. "The Cult of Virginity." 2009. Women's Voices, Feminist Visions: Classic and Contemporary Readings. By Susan M. Shaw and Janet Lee. 5th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2011. 181-185. Print.

Later/off-topic notes:
I'm going to argue with the statement that sizeism is the only acceptable discrimination left in society (Martin 265.) An autistic 14 year old was stabbed multiple times in the chest by his mother this week, and there was a letter written in a support group “to” Alex (the kid's name) that ended with the statement that he should be thanking his mother for stabbing him because he wouldn't be autistic anymore in heaven. Facebook did take that one down, but tends not to take down disability or gender based hate-speech. People conflate feminism with hating men all the time. Murders of disabled people are regularly referred to as mercy killings. No. Sizeism is bad. It's not the only one that people think of as acceptable. Even sexism and racism still are- it's just limited to certain kinds that are acceptable now.
I mostly really like the “Cambridge Needs Feminism” series. Mostly. #305, though “... because a woman's IQ is more important than her BRA SIZE,” though- IQ is inherently ableist and choosing an ableist standard to judge women on isn't OK. 
Valenti talks about how the ideal virgin is never disabled. ABLEISM BEING TALKED ABOUT YES. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Gender and Women's Studies: Week THREE

Trigger Warning: Rape culture, assumptions reflecting many flavors of -ism

Yes, I wrote this fast near the deadline. I don't think I made any major mess-ups, but I don't think this is made of all the awesome either. 

Some anti-feminist things I have seen include rape culture (people thinking rape is acceptable under certain circumstances as long as the word rape is not used, there always being some reason that the rape was truly the fault of the victim, such as skirt length, cleavage, or having been drunk, a Texas man being found not guilty after shooting an escort who later died from it because he had believed sex to be part of the fee he paid (unknown if it was actually included in stated services) and that deadly force is legal for recovering property during a nighttime theft (Mondo,) and the normalization of jokes about violence against women are all parts of rape culture,) religion being used to enforce gender roles (Lee and Shaw 54) and seen as incompatible with feminism due to this sometime use, and entertainment that often can not pass something as simple as the Beschdel test. (Passing means that there are two named female characters who talk to each other about something other than a man.)
The idea that all feminists are man-hating lesbians and that feminism isn't important unless we can demonstrate that it helps men too also go here, as do those times when women police each other on looks, size, or life choices (Lee and Shaw 56.)
Looking at the “Underlying Assumptions” section of the text, the assumptions I see are: that it was the founding fathers who did the carving of the states- what about the women?, that the state was wilderness- Native people lived there, presumably, that white skin is default flesh tone, that there is one kind of disability access that works for everyone and/or that access is something special as opposed to a legal requirement under the ADA, that blonde women are less intelligent or more forgetful, that old people are more forgetful, that it is women who will be dropping children off and would otherwise be taking care of them, that impairment (as opposed to ableism) leads to lack of productivity, that Jewish people are all cheapskates, that Christianity is default, that people are married, and that they are married to people of the other binary gender (all of which are anti-feminist, some directly and some because gender intersects with everything and feminism is supposed to be a system of equality for all, not one that perpetuates other -isms [Yes, I know, that's not what happens because white abled ciswomen tend to be bad at the whole not throwing other people under the bus thing.]) This portion of the text simply asks the reader to realize what the assumptions are, and prior sections define what the relevant forms of discrimination are (Lee and Shaw 45.) I also note the anti-feminist assumption that women and people of color are less intelligent or less able handle STEM fields which is mentioned in the learning activity on Women in Science and Engineering (Lee and Shaw 50.) I suspect that the under-representation of women and people of color in STEM fields is largely related to us not being encouraged to enter these fields in the same way that white men are. I would also note assumptions that female college students are in some other field. For some reason [sexism,] people who meet me in passing assume fairly consistently that I am in art or fashion design, not mathematics and engineering as I actually am. I think this ties in with the same assumptions that lead to us not being encouraged to enter STEM fields.
Of course, all of these sentiments, assumptions, -isms interact with each other, hurting people across all marginalized groups. There is no hierarchy of oppression where one is strictly worse than another, but rather an intersection of where people can be in multiple groups, making one group's issues also the other group's issues (Lorde 70.) Privileges function as invisible weightless bags of valuable tools which we are not meant to notice in our possession (McIntosh 75, ) which often prevents us from realizing our commonalities with those who are oppressed in ways that we are privileged and privileged in ways we are oppressed. Infighting is a tool of the oppressor, who has less work to do in reinforcing the institutional discrimination when we do so ourselves- this is one of the points that Lorde brings up, and one of the things any activist must fight. As Lorde says, we can not afford to fight one oppression only- we must fight them all. If not, they will continue to plague our progress, as they continue to do- women are still under-representated in STEM fields, people of color have higher unemployment rates, trans* people face higher than average rates of being murdered, especially trans* women of color. People with disabilities face risks of murder by both their caretakers and the police, with the risk from police far higher if they are also people of color- the results of society's assumptions do not prevent all progress, but they are the issues that we are still fighting against to make our progress.

Lorde, Audre. "There Is No Hierarchy of Oppression." 2009. Women's Voices, Feminist Visions: Classic and Contemporary Readings. By Susan M. Shaw and Janet Lee. 5th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2011. 70. Print.
McIntosh, Peggy. "White Privilege and Male Privilege." 1988. 
Women's Voices, Feminist Visions: Classic and Contemporary Readings. By Susan M. Shaw and Janet Lee. 5th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 1988. 75-82. Print.
Mondo, Michelle. "Jury Acquits Escort Shooter." San Antonio Express-News. Hearst Communications Inc, 5 June 2013. Web. 06 June 2013. Shaw, Susan M., and Janet Lee. "Systems of Privilege and Inequality" Women's Voices, Feminist Visions: Classic and Contemporary Readings. 5th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2011. 42-59. Print.

Yes, I have later thoughts again.
  • I noticed that they had able-bodied privilege but not neurotypical privilege. Probably just a space thing, since the text did mention that ableism is about physical and mental ability, but I do want to mention that these aren't the same thing. Similar, but not same.
  • While there is no “this one is always worse for everyone” on oppressions, some people who face multiple may have a statement on which one is worse for themself specifically, and this is valid. Sometimes people in an intersection do know which car did what to them.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Choosing your questions: Don't ask how I FEEL.

Ask what I think. Ask if I think it went well or badly or so-so. Ask if I have anything I want to say about it. But do not ask me to tell you how I feel about something, and never ask for one feeling word to sum anything up. Just don't do it. If I try, I'm going to wind up melting down (probably at you, that's what I call it when a person actually does become the target of the screaming from a meltdown, which doesn't happen much.) I'm also not going to come up with a word. Remember how I talked about having a different set of abilities when I was talking about why I use the word DISABLED, not differently abled? Yeah, that whole feelings thing is one of the abilities I don't really have so well. Alexthymia: It's a thing.
This came up because at Autism Campus Inclusion (training run by ASAN for autistic college students who also do/want to do activism stuff, they pay for all the things including transit to them and a food stipend) we had a presentation about how to run meetings. That's useful. It really is. And the idea of doing an evaluation of the meeting afterwords is useful. It's just the "how this evaluation is run" that needs some changes in order to be accessible to the pretty large number of autistic people who are also alexthymic. Also alexthymic people in general, of course.
The presenter talked about how it's hard, but people have to "get out of their heads and into their guts." No, we don't need to do that, because some of us can't do that. And if you demand it at an autistic meeting, you're making the evaluation inaccessible to some of the people in your target audience. Bad idea.
Or "My answer is always "frustrated," because if you're asking me to name my emotion, I will be," as one participant said after the meeting. Not in the actual evaluation, because EMOTIONS. HOW DO WE? A lot of us also have delays on figuring out what emotion we are having, assuming we ever do figure it out. So.
Access need for a whole lot of autistic people, including me:
Don't put us on the spot to tell you how we feel. (Probably don't put us on the spot at all, make sure we know ahead of time what questions will be coming.) Don't demand that we figure out what our emotions are on your time frame (or at all, really, since it won't always be a thing.) If you want feedback on how something went, ask questions that we can actually answer, and take delayed feedback if that's what we need in order to give it. Let us type it. Let us write it. It's an access need.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Disabled and Differently-Abled

Trigger Warning: Ableism, murder of disabled people

In terms of my actual set of abilities, differently abled is, well, actually true. I'm really, really good at certain things, like a lot of the pattern recognition stuff and at writing essays quickly/not needing to edit. I'm not very good at the whole activities of daily living thing. I live in the dorms at school, and I get help from my mother or my ex (we're still good friends) for some of my ADLs (Activities of Daily Living.) Like actually getting laundry done, like keeping my room not a complete disaster and not a fire hazard. If I didn't have a meal plan, they would be helping me with actually getting food. I know how to do laundry and cook, I just have trouble with the executive functioning part of it. So living alone without some sort of help is not a thing I can do. I need a friend/family member who can help me, or I need DD services, or I need to hire someone. Because of my IQ, it's probably going to be friend/family unless/until I can afford to pay a person myself. Which I may well be able to do someday, because there are jobs I can hold with my ability set as long as ableism does not cost me the job. In fact, I have held the same job for just about three years now with an online math education company, grading, writing problems/solutions, being a classroom assistant (answering questions, mostly.) They know I'm autistic, and they're thing is that as long as I can do the job it's fine. So yes, in terms of what my abilities are, what my impairments are, what my "just weird but they pathologize it anyway because society is made of fail"s are, differently abled is true.

[Until you ask the question: different from what? Different how? Why are certain sets of differences called differently abled and not others? What is the unnamed default?]

And yet I won't say that I am differently abled, and I will correct people who call me differently abled. I will also info-dump all the reasons that it's not the language choice I want if you tell me I should be using it. It's soft. It's nice. It also ignores the fact that I am Disabled. I am disabled by society's responses to my actual set of abilities, impairments, and kind of weirds. In many cases it's more by the kind of weirds than the actual impairments, which is... really telling.

I won't let society ignore the fact that they are disabling me. If I'm not supposed to call myself disabled, they can ignore that I am even disabled at all. If they can ignore that I'm even disabled at all (I am, and by the rules and expectations of what I am supposed to be able to do, like use phones and sit still and make eye contact and not need to choose between paying attention and looking like I am paying attention and being able to use speech instead of typing whenever I meet people in person and choosing to do so every time it's possible because that's what's expected even if typing would be much easier and there are certain things I can only communicate that way because I have mental blocks that I'm not supposed to have and it goes on and on...) well, if they don't need to look at my being Disabled, they don't need to look at the ways they are making me disabled. Ableism, institutional and personal, creates disability, and I can't let people forget that because you can't dismantle a system you can't even see, won't even look at. I need the world to look at the way it turns differently abled (different from what? Always ask) into disabled, and I can't do that without calling it what it is made- DISABILITY.

You want it to be called differently abled? Go change the world so that our different sets of abilities really are just different sets and they don't get all kinds of discrimination for being unexpected or (supposedly) wrong sets. Go make sure people don't think existence with my set of abilities is tragic and not worth living and that murdering people for being like me is seen as the murder and horror that it is, not as some sort of mercy killing. Go make sure that the tools we need are in our possession. Go get rid of the access barriers. Make ableism stop being a thing, and we can talk (though lets be real, I'm still going to reject it because of the unnamed default being catered to. In a society where differently abled is a term I could even consider accepting, it's a term that wouldn't even make sense and therefore no one would even have suggested it.) Look at what it is made to be- DISABILITY.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Making My Own Mistakes

Trigger Warning: Abuse, death (not a result of the abuse.)

As a child, I was allowed to make my own mistakes. Some people refer to that as "dignity of risk" when talking about people with disabilities, when talking about special education. This came up because Sharon Lewis brought it up in her presentation "Disability Rights Movement & the DD System."
The context she brought it up in was initially for a good friend who used a wheelchair and chose to get herself into the shower every day. She was getting weaker with age (that's a thing that happens to most people, disabled or not) and her friends suggested that she might want more help. She said no, and one day she fell and died. Her friends were sad, of course, but they realized: it has been her choice, and they could not have made the decision for her even knowing what happened.
The next context mentioned was wandering, and how it is now a medical code. Julia Bascom said that there already are students with tracking devices, as people would use to handle "medical" wandering as opposed to changing the environment to make it safer and more comfortable. Or people would be restrained in response to escape attempts from abusive situations.
And this is a big one.
People leave places when they don't feel safe, or when they're bored, or when they would rather be elsewhere, and even parents who say their autistic kids wander realize that it is usually one of those.
I had arguments with my parents, on occasion, related to independence and them knowing where I was. Not loud shouty ones, more like debates. It wasn't over a bracelet with a tracking device, nothing so invasive. I didn't want (ok, flat refused) to carry my cell phone when I went running. I was probably 14. Not old enough to actually enforce said refusal legally, not being 18 or anything, but yes, it was still a flat refusal of this is not a thing I will do. I also didn't want to have to call if my friends and I were moving from, say, the park to the lake when I was out with them. I wasn't quite as 100% this is not a thing I will do on that one, but I got it too. And I got to take public transit alone.
I also got to go to China for a month and study/live with a host family when I was 16. If that's not letting me take a risk, I don't know what is. The host family had 3 students, the other 2 students spoke English but the host family did not. Also, they were used to college students, not 16 year olds. So I was treated like an adult. By the way, I don't know what the official line is or if there is one, but yes, a 16 year old can get a hotel room alone in China.
So I very much got dignity of risk, except no one called it that because when you're not labeled as anything besides gifted (my family and I played the "gifted kids are weird" card very effectively, with my family not even realizing that there was more to my differences than that until my official diagnosis.) The level of it I got was more than many of my abled peers got, honestly- there were quite a few parents who thought my mother was "crazy," to use their words. Because there are risks in traveling internationally alone as a 16 year old girl. (My flights were alone.)
And I made errors, and other people made errors that were outside my control. I went to the wrong Shanghai train station and missed my train to Beijing. I got lost in Beijing, multiple times. (I was alone the whole time I was in Beijing.) I wound up sleeping at the airport in Canada, on airport chairs, because my plane was delayed for 6 hours leaving China and that meant I got stuck in Canada overnight. 16 year olds can't get hotel rooms in Canada.
I had at-home errors, too, and at-home things that could be described as wandering. When I was probably 8, I walked back around an island looking for better rocks to climb, which really scared my dad. When I was 17, I got on the wrong commuter rail and wound up in the wrong town. (My mom didn't find out about that one until after the fact.)
But they were my errors, and I got to make them. And I was treated like a person who could make decisions with intent- if I left, it was assumed that I had a reason. (And yes, I did on one occasion threaten to walk out of a hospital that had not signed me out if they did not do so by 6am because dagnabbit I had school and a math meet that day. It wasn't an issue because they discharged me around 1:30am. So when people talk about how their kids would leave a hospital? Yeah, so would I, I just said I would and didn't wind up needing to.)