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: Zisk, Alyssa Hillary. "Post Title." Yes, That Too. Day Month Year of post. Web. Day Month Year of retrieval.

APA: Zisk, A. H. (Year Month Day of post.) Post Title. [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Thursday, April 19, 2012

I Hid

Trigger Warning: Discussions of abuse and ableism (as reasons to pass)

Today is a fairly heavy-duty post, but it's not something I wrote today. This is a poem, sort of. It's about being autistic in a world that sees autism as only meaning the non-speaking children in the corner and not wanting anyone else to know.
It's definitely meant to be read aloud.
Also, this is my submission to the Loud Hands Project. If this tells you who I am, don't go using my full last name, thanks.

I Hid

I knew.
I knew what I was, what I still am.
I say what because so many of you see, well, that, as a what, not a who.
So I hid.

I hid because I knew.
I knew what would happen if anyone found out.
I knew that if anyone who could diagnose me, who could label me, ever got near me, 
         the game would be up in a moment.
I knew what they did with kids like me. With the Autistic kids.
We didn't take hard classes. We didn't even take normal classes.
What we could do was ignored to make the time to get us the abuses we needed.
But it wasn't called abuse. If you're autistic, it's ``therapy.”
So I hid.

I passed.
Not for ``normal,” of course. I could never have done that.
But I could pass for merely weird as long as I avoided the people who thought they were helping.
If you're just weird, you can take whatever classes you want.
If you're just weird, no one bats an eye when you have two pairs of pliers in your bag.
If you're just weird, you can spend a month in another country.
All that's OK, as long as you're just weird, not Autistic.
So I hid.

I had ``quiet hands,” and no one even had to hold them down.
If no one knows you move like an Autistic, you don't, right?
I looked at people's foreheads.
No one notices you're not looking them in the eye if you look at their foreheads.
I made sure my teachers knew I was smart.
The top of the class can't be Autistic, right?
I was hiding.

But someone noticed anyways.
By then, I was in high school.
In high school, it's harder to make you do anything, unless you're already not quite human.
They have to convince your parents to force the issue if you don't want to be evaluated.
Who's going to convince parents who went through life with the picture of autism most of us still have?
The kid in the corner who doesn't talk or look you in the eye, who bangs his head on the wall?
He's autistic.
The girl who's been doing her best to pass for merely weird, who flaps her hands when excited?
Not autistic.
Hiding was working. Not going was working.
I kept hiding.

Because I knew.
I knew that even in high school, that label would give them too much power.
I knew that the Autistic needed to be made normal in ways the merely weird could escape.
I knew that we were somehow broken and needed fixing.
I didn't want to be fixed.
I kept hiding.

The problem is, hiding yourself is hard.
Maybe some people can do it forever.
I can't.
All the problems are still there, and I'm terrified.
I'm terrified because I still know.
I know I'll be an object of pity.
I know that some people will still see me as less human.
I know those same people will see me as broken.
I know they'll try to break the person I am in order to fix the person I never was.
I know they'll think I'm trapped in the shell of Autism, not the shell of normalcy they want to force me into.
I know I'll be ``too Autistic to understand,” except when I'm ``not Autistic enough.”
I know I'll be ignored.
But I also know that nothing will change unless we make it change, and those same people won't.
So I know that I have to do it.
I guess I can't hide anymore.


  1. Seriously, I swear you are me. Except that they knew. And they forced me to hide. My parents knew, my school knew, and my parents knew that if they said anything, I wouldn't be allowed to take the hard classes. So they abused me. They hurt me and they terrified me into appearing just barely on the "right" side of normal, and it cost me so much sanity it's hard to even quantify. I didn't know until college. And I'm too scared to un-hide. I think my PhD advisor knows, but I haven't given him the words. (he's known me since undergrad, likes me and my quirks

    (I'm finally making my way through your archive... I try to do so on all the blogs I read.) It is so wonderful reading things from you. You just "get" it... what it is like to be me. What it is like to be you. Those of us who had to work so far beyond our means to attempt to pass, and do pretty well, well enough that the first line out of someone's mouth when you say "I'm autistic" is "you're too smart/articulate/successful/etc to be autistic." but then use all of your autistic traits to hurt you. We're sometimes too good at being "invisible".

    1. Every time an Autistic adult comes out of hiding, an Autistic child gets their wings! Thank you both.

  2. Thank you for sharing this... its so empowering!

  3. I hid for 41 years. I didn't even know... or suspect. I didn't escape though. Locked up in an Idaho kid's prison at thirteen for "running away from home" to escape abuse; ostricized from the normal (?) kids for being "different", kicked out of the house at 16, homeless and addicted to drugs for the next twenty years, and finally, prison... five years... where they finally gave some attention to my life, and decided it was autism. Too autistic to understand.

    Having never been able to hold a job (with some failed exceptions), I apply for SSI. FAIL. "Not autistic enough", they figure. But I sure was autistic enough to show through life history that I couldn't fit the shell of normalcy... the normalcy society demands we fit.

    I never could fit. I didn't even know I was autistic and couldn't even fit. I still don't fit, and though we now know why, they still demand that I fit.

    EPIC fail, society of enlightened persons. Epic fail.

    But I find my true family of the lovers of life itself in our autistic community. We love each other. We share a bond that can't be broken.

    Not even through chains and prison's cold dark walls. It only made me stronger, even if confused. #Winning


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