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, January 31, 2013

Don't Ask Twice

Yesterday, I talked about one of the issues from this quote:
Assume the person with Aspergers is not intending to offend you. Intention to offend is actually a complicated line of reasoning that someone with Aspergers doesn’t have…People with Aspergers want to be nice. It’s very important to them even though you would never guess that by their actions. So if you tell the person what you want, and give specific direction, they will always try their best to do it, because they want to be nice. That said, them trying their best might look to you like not trying at all…Just because someone with Aspergers says no right now doesn’t mean it’s no later. No is a defense mechanism for “I don’t like change.” You can try asking again a second time later.-Petunia Trunk
Today, I am talking about the other huge problem.
Have you ever been taught that no means no? Apparently if the person has Aspergers, it now means "try again later." That's wrong. That's taking a person who has already been taught not to have boundaries, already been taught to always comply and that no is not an acceptable answer, and making them say it again in order to do what they want to do.
This quote is just chock-full of consent issues. Autistic people who have the Aspergers label have been taught to comply with everything, same as other Autistic people. That's what our therapies teach. Social skills classes teach us to engage, but not to disengage. We are taught not to refuse invitations. We are taught, often, that we have to be nice all the time, that even if we don't get it right, we have to at least try to be nice all the time, or else we really are horrible people. People often say to us "You don't have Aspergers, you're just a jerk." We're taught that we can never just be a jerk, and that's not a safe way to live. Sometimes the only way to get a person to leave you alone is to be a bit of a jerk, and we need access to that tool just like everyone else does, even if it is only for dire situations. (We wind up in those more often than most, I suspect, so maybe we need it even more.)
So: If you tell an Autistic person what you want and give specific directions, they might do it because they want to be nice. They also might do it because they have been taught that they should always do what they are told to do and that compliance is key. If they ever had ABA, the second is even more likely to be what's going on, but it can happen even from things like social skills therapy or continuously getting in trouble for being weird.
And "No is a defense mechanism for "I don't like change." This is so full of consent issues and thinly veiled coercion that it's not even funny.
Part of being autonomous and in charge of your own life is that you are allowed to make illogical choices, and you are allowed to make mistakes, and you are allowed to make decisions that other people don't agree with. That means that even if "no" really is just a defense mechanism for not liking change, if you respect that an Autistic person is a full person who can make decisions (if you don't respect this, you should not be interacting with Autistic people anyways because that is a huge problem,) you still have to accept the answer of "No."
We're taught never to say "No." We said it once, and that was hard. It must have been important, because we're taught not to say it, ever.We get taught that questions are orders in disguise, and asking again means that we must have given the wrong answer the first time. No means no, and it does not mean "Ask again later." It means no, and that's it. Just because someone with Aspergers says no now, that means they said no and you need to respect that and leave it be. Do not ask again later. Do not press the issue.
If you want to leave it open to them changing their mind, depending on the specific Autistic person, you might be able to get away with letting them know while you are asking that they can change their mind at any time and that that's fine. The reason for doing it while you're asking? It's so that they can change their yes to a no if they get uncomfortable, even more than it is to let them decide that they really do want to try.
Knowing that I can change my yes to a no later if I need to makes me much more willing to give that initial yes, in case anyone was wondering. That only works if my decision gets respected when I make that change, every time. As soon as I start getting pressured about it upon deciding that something really isn't what I want,  I'm not willing to do the "I'll give it a shot" thing on what you ask about anymore, and you will get far more no's than you would before. It's not because I don't like change in general. It's because I want to be able to go back if I want or need to.
Remember that Autistic people are taught to comply. Respect our "No" for what it is-"No."


  1. I have a headache. This quote made it worse. Insert "woman" for "person with Aspergers." Presume the person speaking is man. I want to vomit. Seriously. This Petunia woman needs to stop speaking (or typing). It's called thinking before we open our mouths people.

  2. It's not the first time Trunk has offended me. Just about every thing she writes offends me, from pasthologizing other women because she thinks they laugh funny to promoting the Super-Crip Over-Achieving Aspie stereotype to this don't take no for an answer bullshit.

    Wrong things to teach people about us, Trunk!

    Thanks, A, for this post.


I reserve the right to delete comments for personal attacks, derailing, dangerous comparisons, bigotry, and generally not wanting my blog to be a platform for certain things.