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

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Operating System Analogy

I've seen references to an analogy comparing being autistic in a world full of neurotypicals to running Linux in a world of Windows and Macs. I liked it. A lot. (I am not taking credit for coming up with the analogy. I just want to show just how good it really is!)
1) If you go into the command line on a Windows machine and start typing, then if you know the Windows command line, things happen. YAY! Try those same commands on a Linux machine? Not so much.
If you give instructions to an NT the way you normally do, the NT probably understands you. If you give the same instructions to an autistic? Iffy. That doesn't make either the Linux machine or the autistic person broken. It's just a different way of processing information.
2) Windows and Mac have Microsoft Office. Linux machines don't really run Microsoft Office unless you work really hard, and it's probably better to run one of the office suites designed for Linux. Same goes for a lot of programs, actually.
 NTs have certain ways that they act and expect others to act. Autistics sometimes can act that way if they try really hard, but it's better to just let them be autistic. (Learning actual life skills is useful. I'm talking about things like flapping, rocking, jumping, spinning, not making eye contact, the stuff where it doesn't hurt anyone in any way, but it does shout ``HEY! This person is autistic!")
3) Compatibility gets really interesting. Sometimes you have to nearabouts re-write a whole program to get it to run on certain versions of Linux.
Compatibility gets really interesting. Sometimes you have to get even more basic than you knew existed and re-write how communication works to dialog with an autistic.
4) There are a ton of different versions of Linux. I can't keep track of them all, and the amount of customization is such that, once you've been using your Linux machine for about a year, unless you pretty much didn't install ANY programs besides the default, there may or may not be another linux machine anywhere that runs exactly like yours. Two Linux Mint 11 machines will probably have more in common with each other than one of the Linux Mint 11 machines and a Kubuntu or Backtrack machine. (And those three are all still based on Ubuntu! There's Slax, DSL, Fedora... and of course all the niche distros for any of a huge range of things.)These machines are still all Linux, though
There are a ton of different autistic people. In fact, every one of us is different. Even if you started with two autistics being wired the same way, once they've been in the world and influenced by their environments. they're not going to be the same any more! The more similarly we're wired, the more similar you might expect us to come out, but that is a ``probably," not an absolute. And we're all still autistic.
5) Compatability layers/emulaters. Linux machines often have these depending on the distribution. It lets you run a Windows program by changing how Linux works instead of changing the program. These tend to slow down the computer, and are often more trouble than they're worth. It's Linux for a reason, so don't try to make it into Windows!
Some autistics can pass to varying extents, running social and body language ``what we're supposed to do"s. Essentially, we're modifying ourselves to fit the NT norm. It's hard, can cause meltdowns/shutdowns, and those NT ``programs" don't run as quickly or as easily for us. We're autistic, not NT!
6) And here is where it breaks down. Computers can sometimes boot two or even three different operating systems, and you can reformat a computer, then install a new OS. One person has one brain that is wired in one way. You don't get to install a completely new method of cognition on a person. It's like the BIOS is locked. And while dual-booting might be useful, it's completely impractical. If I don't get to dual-boot, I'm glad the BIOS is locked- that means you don't get to go in and re-wire my brain!

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