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

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Memorizing the Sears Catalog

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Hillary. She didn't learn to talk when people expected her to, and so her school put her in a special classroom and didn't even try to teach the girl who didn't talk. At home, she carried around a Sears catalog. This is from the time when Sears catalogs had everything and were about the same size as telephone books, but no matter what word she wanted, she could find it pretty quickly. That's how she "talked"-she flipped through that catalog and pointed to words, and it was clear that she had either memorized the catalog or come close to it.
The school still did not try to teach her. They assumed she could not be taught, that she was unintelligent, simply because she did not speak. She was made to feel like she was not one of the "real people." They ignored the evidence that said otherwise, that a girl who could independently figure out that a Sears catalog had the words she needed and then learn it well enough to quickly find words had to be smart. Can you imagine memorizing where to find those random words that are only in the catalog once because of an advertisement well enough to build a whole vocabulary and communicate everything you want? She did it.
Eventually, she did learn to talk. I think she was eight? She had other disabilities, including a variant of hemophilia that landed her in the hospital on a semi-regular basis, and as far as I know she was in some sort of special education for the entirety of her schooling. (Presuming competence was not something that schools tended to do at the time, and recent events show that educators still have pretty significant problems with this.)
She learned sign language and braille, spending much of her life advocating for people with disabilities. She's the reason that my middle name is Hillary. We can't know for sure, but it seems likely that she was autistic, which would be another thing we have in common. (We know she had some sensory processing differences that led to her disliking loud noises and that she had a speech delay, which is enough for me to be suspicious given that autism often runs in families and I am definitely autistic.)

1 comment:

  1. That is absolutely incredible! She created her own pre-pecs, pre-ipad communication system. Brilliant...and so sad that she was not given more appropriate tools and opportunities.

    Unfortunately, I suspect this still happens way too frequently!


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