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

Tuesday, October 25, 2016


Recently, a friend of mine asked what we wished others knew about meltdowns. (She blogged about meltdowns a while back, too. It was good.) This caused me to make words. Many words.

You see, I have experience at appearing to be more OK than I am. (I think a lot of people have this experience.) I have also been taught, in a variety of ways, that I should not show around other people that I am not OK. And the thing about getting around that is … it takes energy to break that, energy I might not have when I'm not OK. Often, holding on to some appearance of being OK until I am alone is cheaper for me than allowing myself to show that I'm having a problem. (I'm not faking overload. I might be faking not-overload.)

Now, there is still a point where I will melt down, like it or not, and there are limits to how much I can delay this. So it is possible for me to melt down in front of people. And most of the people I'm around would want to help, would want to check in to make sure I'm OK, that sort of thing. There's just one problem: I reach the point where I can put up an (unusually expensive) facade of OK before I reach the point where I'm actually ready to start putting myself together.

What this means:
If I look like I'm on the edge of a meltdown, there are a few questions you can ask me, one at a time. I'm not going to keep track of a bunch of questions at a time, really do stick to one. And do not touch me. I know people do light touch for reassurance but this is a bad idea. You can point out a spot that's semi-enclosed (corner, alcove, back to the wall) and ask if I want to sit there1. I probably will. Don't push it if I say no. You can offer me a satin-bound blanket or a fidget toy. I'll probably take you up on either (or both) of those, but again, don't push it. And you can ask if I'd like you to leave me alone. I might say yes, but I also might say no – sometimes, especially if I've got another event coming up sooner than I'd be able to have the meltdown and start putting myself back together afterwards, I'm going to prefer to keep delaying. I'm better at delaying than I really should be, but sometimes this unfortunate skill gets used. But if I say yes, it's time for you to go away, and not come back until either I come looking for you or until the next day. Don't come check on me to see if I need anything. Don't come check on me to make sure I'm OK. Because your presence would mean my training to appear to be OK would make me appear to come out of the meltdown sooner, and because this is actually bad, doing either of those things is very likely to ensure that I am not OK. It will cause me to put the facade of OK up before the actually OK gets going. It does not matter how many times you tell me I don't need to put that facade up for you. I will not, in that state, be able to stop myself from doing what I've been taught I need to do. Stay away. No, you are not the exception to this, because there are none.

If I am actively melting down, that means I'm in bad enough shape that I can't hide it. That's not good, but that does mean there are some things you might be able to do before I've got enough juice to run the facade (and not enough to stop myself from doing so if there's anyone around.) First, do not touch me. Second, if I am not already curled up in a corner or alcove or with my back to the wall, offer to help me get to one of those positions. If I say yes, you can lead me to one. (See above: do not touch me to lead me.) Third, if there's a soft, satin-bound blanket around that I am not already in possession of, putting it near me is a good idea. (Not on me. Again: do not touch me.) If I don't seem to understand the offer, this is a cue to leave. Fourth, melting down burns a lot of energy. I am going to be tired, hungry, and thirsty. If you can put food and/or liquid that is ready to be consumed far enough away that I won't accidentally hit it while rocking or flapping, but close enough that I don't need to interact with any people to get at it, this is potentially useful. (Post-meltdown, I am even more likely than usual to get lost somewhere in the process of attempting to create and consume food.) Once location, blanket, and consumable objects are either taken care of or not, it's time for you to go away. The same rules apply as if you were heading out before I actually melted down.

Counterintuitively, if I start showing any signs of being OK again after I melted down, that's the point where you absolutely must leave now. I'm not OK yet, but I'm starting to be able to fake it and you need to go away so that I can choose not to do so. Those rules from heading out before I actually melted down? They still apply. You need to go away.

1  Weird as this may seem, if I'm going to the corner or grabbing the blanket on my own, that's a good sign. It means I've caught on to the low energy in time to drop the performance, which will buy me more time able to do stuff before I run out of energy entirely. It also means I'm still in good enough shape that if I felt I needed to just leave, I could have done so. This is the part where you get to see a person getting stuff done while visibly autistic. Just like the times where I'm pulling out a whiteboard marker, pen, or tablet to go to class non-speaking, I'm actually fine. Appearing to have my neurotype is not an emergency.

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