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

Thursday, May 1, 2014

BADD: Not what I was planning on but it's ableism and I'm against it

Warning for ableism in school/educational settings.

This is my post for Blogging Against Disablism Day. It's not the post I was planning on writing but then I melted down over this so it's what we're getting. If I'm lucky, I'll manage one on my planned topic thanks to time zone differences.

I don't phone. My program people know that I have issues with phones, but don't seem to get the full extent of the issues: I am pretty much limited to scripts and noncommittal sounds on the phone, because I am not processing phone conversations in real time much of ever. So if they're calling to say "I said I'd call you when I got here and here I am" I'll be fine: I go meet them. If they're calling to say "Yo, you forgot your book in my office," I'll be fine: I know that script, I say thanks and ask when I can get the book. I might need to supply some information that I already know, but I don't need to figure out what script to put it in or create one from scratch.

But if it's communication for a job and I need to be able to react to new and potentially unexpected information with actual solutions and real-time reactions? I've got to be text based. That's just how it is. Email is good. Text messages are manageable, though kind of annoying for long things because of the keyboard and screen size and not really practical for job communications thanks to that.

My program people have been good about many of my issues, but not all. Mostly it's been cognitive stuff that they've been bad at: Newsflash, a person can be cognitively disabled and still meet the ADA "otherwise qualified" thing when the stuff that cognitively doesn't work isn't the core duties of the job/the core expectations of the academic program. And still need accommodation for those things.

So: This paperwork is not cognitively accessible to me, I need the questions in a different, less open-ended form or to not be the one doing this paperwork.
They wouldn't believe me until they actually saw me melt down related to it. Twice. Once at orientation, and yes I told them what the problems were then [the questions aren't accessible to me and also your person talking about cross-cultural communication is using the same words that the people telling autistic people how we interact wrong in all the ways use.] Once after I told them and their suggestion was to have the residence director help me with it, ending with my melting down in her office.

So: I need significant support writing a cover letter for a job. Basically it means the person helping me asks a ton of questions and I answer them and then edit into niceness, I actually posted the progress on We Are Like Your Child after a friend helped me in English.
The friend helping in English happened because my program people didn't provide the help needed. Residence and Academic directors totally talked to each other about how my issue was "worrying" but they didn't tell me what they were worried about and they didn't give me the help that would have led to there not being an issue.

So: I don't phone. They've been told multiple times that I don't phone.
Academic director calls me on the phone to tell me that my internship teacher isn't using email for a reason I don't understand. But one of the big things is that people often don't understand the reasons behind very real needs so I'm not going to argue. It's something about computers not being good right now. Fine. Since I'm getting this information second-hand from someone with no such issue, how about telling me this in a mode of communication I'm OK with? But no, this is apparently too much to ask, for people who don't have issues emailing to remember that calling me should only happen for things that are both urgent and important. At the start of a break over which I am not working, this is not urgent.
Also the teacher-given suggestion is not practical: texting for all job-related (sciency!) communication is not practical. Small screens, small keyboards, not good for reasons that I don't think even have anything to do with my being Autistic.

Yes, these are individual incidents faced by one person, but there is a pattern: I am disabled. I have a need related to my cognitive/thinking/processing stuff. It's not believed without huge piles of proof often involving meltdowns, and even with the proof the offered solutions are often impractical. These needs are special and it's expected that people won't understand them. I should be grateful that I'm here at all, really, my program had to bring up the fact that they could get sued if the university rejected me over disability after the program accepted me to get me here.

That's saying that these needs, which are considered part of a disability instead of "sometimes people have things they can't do," are special and I should expect them to get ignored or forgotten. That's ableism. It's part of a pattern of how differences in how people can think and process get us excluded, you know, ableism. That thing we're against today?


  1. Boy, can I relate. I too was denied accomodations that are related to a combination of my disabilities (the university refused to proovide material in an accessible format because "all blind students have their friends do that for them"). I could not request cognitive accommodations at all, cause "we're not a therapy center, we're a university". Note that I'm otherwise perfectly qualified. The thing is, meltdowns reinfroced their "not a therapy center" attitude, so ultimatley I dropped out. Unfortunately, we dont'have that strong protections against disability discrimination in the Netherlands.

  2. I can associate far too well with this as well.

    For some reason, people seem to regularly assume that just because phone conversations are easy for *them*, that means they're easy for *everyone*. When meanwhile, I'm putting in so much effort just to understand what's being said through the muffled audio that I have difficulty just following the conversation, to say nothing of giving timely responses.

    And sometimes, people still end up preferring the phone for things that would be much better suited to basically *any* other method of communication. (Conference calls regarding project status at work, I'm looking at you...)

  3. It's so ridiculous, the lengths that you (or any disabled person) has to go through to get the services they need. Academic settings are supposed to be so much more accessible than they are, and (although it's been 12 years now) back when I was in college, I didn't know enough about getting the services I needed to demand the ones they thought weren't important enough (like - having a non-stairs based exit plan if there was a fire), and suffered through a lot because I didn't have them. I wish you so much luck in your academic (and later) career, and hope that these examples are things that the disability services people finally get on the ball about.

  4. Excellent post. And what is SO frustrating is that if you DO get the support you need and it makes a positive difference - if it is funded support they remove it as soon as you are doing better - like you don't need it and your needs just vanished >:(


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