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

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Finding Home at the Gala

The other of two things I wrote for the ASAN November Newsletter. 

On November 14, I also went to the ASAN second annual gala. I was almost an hour late, having gotten stuck in traffic on the way from the Disability and Inclusion in the Humanities panel to the gala with the organizer of the panel and a few of the panelists who were also attending the gala, but what I arrived to was more than worth the wait. When I arrived, it was to…Autistic space!
Autistic space is not like neurotypical space. In Autistic space, stim toys are readily available, such as the blue ASAN Tangles at every seat, and carrying them with us to fidget with when talking to other attendees was completely normal. Instead of the loud clapping applause normally used, we use jazz hands or flapping at the end of speeches or anywhere that clapping would normally be appropriate. That the inability to use spoken language and having nothing to say are two completely different things is accepted as a fact, and is not an issue that leads to continuously needing to prove and re-prove competence. If and when a topic is difficult or triggering, it’s considered acceptable to step outside. There is no need to apologize for acting visibly autistic or for the “forgetting” of faces that can come from face-blindness or from simply not looking at people. Sure, this was a gala at the National Press Conference, but that didn’t mean that we suddenly needed to act like neurotypical adults at their most formal–the social rules common to the outside world need significant modification for use in Autistic space, including a requirement of being as direct and clear in communication as possible given current language abilities and a complete suspension of asking for eye contact. That’s what I found at the gala. I found people talking about important things in language I could understand and being OK with the people fidgeting and flapping and looking off in a completely different direction than the speaker, knowing that this was simply our natural way of being, not some attempt at disrespect.
I heard about self-advocacy and including people in communities, about the importance of Alternative and Augmentative Communication, and about needing to stand together. I heard about not letting the world isolate and mistreat any group that they were somehow convinced was really the group to isolate, no matter how much “but this time we’re sure!” we might hear. They’re never as sure as they think they are, not with Autistic people and not with anyone else. I heard more about the Loud Hands Project, which I submitted a semi-poem to, and finally got to see the video used for fundraising for it. All things affirming the acceptance of autism as a difference that is a disability not in need of elimination or cure, but simply support for a different way of being, were to be found at the gala–it was one of few spaces where I felt completely safe.
Kassiane wrote after Autreat that she had found her family, that it was the Autistic community, and after traveling to Washington, DC for the annual gala, I have to say the same. The Autistic community is another family for me, one that makes sense and that understands both the advantages I have and the difficulties I face. The Autistic community understands that this is who we are, for better or for worse. The gala itself may have only been two hours out of a busy day, but in a world that is not yet designed for people with brains like ours, it meant family and it meant home.

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