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.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Educational experiences interview

Today (October 9 as I write this) I participated in a follow-up interview for a study some folks at my university were doing on the educational experiences of students with disabilities.

The interviewer defaulted to person-first language. Which, whatever, I don't actually care what you default to as long as you can handle the part where some people in the population you're referring to will have a different preference, and even for reasons! Those reasons tend to relate to the particular ways people have dehumanized us, as well as with community identities.

However, what I found interesting was that one of the things he said was, "You said last year that you identified as a person with autism--"

I don't know where he was going with that because I interrupted him. No, I guarantee you that I did not say that, because I didn't... a year ago I already had quite a few posts on my blog about why I don't identify that way. Since one of the big things from the interview is how we identify and I have literally never identified that way, that was an important thing to get right. Nope, nope, nope.

I identify as Autistic. I identify as an Autistic person. I didn't say this one in the interview, but when I'm feeling particularly snarky, I'll even sometimes call myself an "autism whose life experiences coincide with the diagnostic label of personhood."

Since the general focus was educational experiences (as opposed to identity as a big sub-focus, but still a sub-focus) that bit was a fairly short part, but it's one of the things that stuck out to me.

He also asked me about how I handled the not-always-able-to-speak deal, since I'd mentioned that I can't always speak and that it's mostly a logistics issue for me. As long as I still have a good way to communicate and do what I need to do, I really don't care if speech is working or not. (I''m still working on the logistics for classroom teaching with large, face-to-face classes, but as a student and as a tutor it's definitely not an issue.)

For my two graduate math classes this semester, I sit in the front row on the right side so that I can reach the side board in the room from my seat, and I carry a whiteboard marker with me. That way, if speech stops working but I want to say something, I can write on the board and everyone can see it.

Another bit I noticed is that he (like most people) seemed a bit surprised by the extent to which I will joke about pretty much every aspect of my disabilities. Pattern recognition tells me that most people, especially enabled people, are going to be surprised by that one, but it always sticks out to me just how much people expect disability to be so serious, all the time.

Nah, I'll crack jokes, because a lot of the issues either genuinely amuse me and because many of the ones that don't fall under laugh to keep from crying territory.

The way one of my teachers this semester, who I'd had a couple times before, reacted the first time he saw speech go kaput on me was one of the genuinely amusing ones. (He refers to it as being "offline," which isn't my word but as long as we're clear on it just being speech that's offline I think it's as good a word as any.)

See, I corrected all of the typos he made on the whiteboard... from my seat, without speaking because I couldn't. He'd written the "element of" symbol instead of the "subset of" symbol a few times, if I remember correctly. Anyways, after I got them all, he told me to "be quiet!" He was laughing, so I wrote on the side board, "But I'm not talking!". So he said I knew what he meant (true.)

The next day, I went to check in with him since he'd never actually seen speech give out on me before. His one question? Whether or not he'd been too hard on me about it. I'm not actually sure what he did where he'd worry about that, since I'm fairly sure I'd have gotten a laughing "be quiet!" type reaction had I done the same thing while speaking... but that's a whole lot better a concern than whether or not I'm OK to be in class when I can't speak (yes...)

Finally, I thought it was interesting (and definitely good) that he asked what advice I had, both for students and for educators. For students I said to remember that smiling, nodding, and doing what you want anyways is absolutely an option, and also that when people are talking about evidence supporting various strategies, look closely at what the evidence is of: no matter how much evidence anyone has that they can get you to a particular goal, it's not relevant you don't share that goal.

For educators? I said to remember that students at least sometimes not doing what they're told is totally expected, because 1) students are people with potentially different goals than you, and 2) sometimes we are literally not capable of doing the thing. When it's the first, that's not a disability issue, and when it's the second, consequences won't make us magically gain abilities. 

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