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

Monday, January 14, 2013

Speaking, Reading, Writing

Landon of thAutcast is asking questions on thAutcast, gathering information. Some of them, I am answering here.
This is the first one being answered here:
 Learning to read or write or speak can be very hard for some autistic people and very easy for others. What was it like for you? You can talk in general terms or tell the story of learning one thing.
 (If you're not Autistic, you can answer about an Autistic person you know. I am Autistic, so I can answer for me.)

I had no problems learning to talk. In fact, I was an early talker. Reading took a little longer- I could read at least some from an early age, but it was slow and I wasn't great at it and I didn't like it for a long time. Eventually, I did start liking to read. That happened as I got better at it.

Writing, though.
Writing was the bad one.

I started using computers for the first time around the same age that I was learning to speak, and I loved them from the beginning. I have always been good with computers. There was just one problem.
I was expected to learn to write by hand.

In kindergarden, they gave us pencils and taught us to spell. My handwriting was the large, clumsy handwriting that you would expect of someone just learning. I was fairly good at spelling, and I was writing slowly enough, big enough, that it could be read. No one demanded more than I could do.

In third grade, they taught us cursive, and then expected us to write everything in cursive. It was even slower than print, though no messier.
I was frustrated.
I couldn't read other people's cursive.
I couldn't write fast enough to keep up with my brain, even more so than usual.
They said cursive was faster.
They were wrong.

In fourth grade, they let me print again.
I haven't done an assignment in cursive since.

In fifth grade, teachers started to care that my handwriting remained horrible.
It had shrunk to a normal size, but no one could read it.
They said I was lazy.

In middle school, we could type our homework.
Typing took practice, but my teachers could read my work.
I could read my work, even weeks later.
It took most of middle school for typing to be as fast as handwriting, but it was more than worth it.
My writing could be understood.
In-class essays stayed painful, but I could do my homework.

In high school, in-class essays were even fewer.
Creative writing was a class.
I took it.
We met in the computer lab.
Everything was typed.
That's when I learned I love to write.
Not when I had to write by hand, but when I could get the stories out in a way I could read again later.
The computer taught me to love writing.

In college, I was banned from handwriting my math homework.
My handwriting was that bad.
It still is.
That's what computers are for.


  1. Lily has a really tough time with the "pre-writing" goals that she gets on her IEP. I'd be inclined to blow them off entirely but she doesn't seem to be able to resort to the keyboard yet either (though during our last discussion I realized we've made some broad assumptions about "because she can't do THIS, she must not be able to do THAT."

    With her vision issues, fine motor is difficult. Finding letters on a keyboard might be pretty challenging, but I have it in the back of my mind to start trying, and to talk to her Learning Support Teacher.

    1. I have been contemplating trying to design an oversized keyboard. Think it might help if I could?

  2. due to emma's slow writing pace, she receives a hard copy of all the class notes. (lectures, movies, etc - it's in her iep) writing has always been very difficult for her - large, loose letters... she gets very frustrated when she has to write. i don't know why i never thought of it before, but this year while in her meeting it was as if a light bulb *finally* went off inside my head. i suggested to the team: 'what if we had her key her work?' they all looked at me the same way i felt two minutes before i asked the question. it seems like an obvious solution, although i'm sure one we will have to work on - not just throw her in with. *emma is in the fifth grade.

    idk... any thoughts, suggestions? she's fairly proficient with the computer and the keyboard. (she also LOVES the mini computers they have in the school)

  3. This is SO awesome. My child has never been able to grip a pencil. Coloring is painful and not enjoyable. He's 8. I am fortunate that I follow the unschooling philosophy, which says it's not important at which age the child learns to read or write. As long as learning remains enjoyable, he will learn. Also fortunate that our OT shrugged and said, he's gonna be a computer writer.

    Also - I'm buying my child an oversized computer keyboard. He has vision and fine motor challenges. It's Kinderboard - on Amazon - about $60.

  4. I have serious dysgraphia. I can write by hand now but it's slow and I mainly only do it for grocery lists. In school, I did almost zero percent of my homework and other assignments because I couldn't write them and I wasn't allowed to type.

  5. Yup. Get it in her IEP that she can type ALL THE THINGS ALWAYS.

  6. My son has difficulty writing also. Fortunately his IEP includes accommodations letting him use a keyboard or having someone scribe for him (his aid at school or me at home). Not all the time, but we've worked out a pretty good balance about when that is really needed.

    My son is a big talker now (non-stop chatter sometimes), but learning to speak and the basics of communication was a challenge. He spoke very few words before the he of 3. At 3 he started in an integrated preschool program 5 days a week. It was a communication-based program with an SLP in the classroom, so lots of effort spent helping the kids develop communication skills. Before he learned to speak we could see his frustration - we knew he understood a lot and had things he wanted to communicate, he just couldn't. Picture boards and other tools helped, but for him it wasn't the same as talking. It took a while and a lot of work for him, but then it finally clicked. It was fascinating to watch the language develop. As he learned words you could tell he already understood many of the concepts and just needed the words to go with them. A completely different learning process, basically the reverse order from how many allistic children learn.


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