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: Hillary, Alyssa. "Post Title." Yes, That Too. Day Month Year of post. Web. Day Month Year of retrieval.

APA: Hillary, A. (Year Month Day of post.) Post Title. [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Thursday, February 28, 2013

It's Not About You

Trigger Warning: Erasure of disabled people from their own stories

I know that video isn't about me. Here's the thing: It's not about Mitchell either. No, really. How much of it is  about how Mitchell feels, what Mitchell wanted, what Mitchell did? Versus how much of it is about everyone else talking about how inspirational it is, how it was such a nice thing to do for him?
It's not about Mitchell. But it should have been.
And what would it have looked like if it were really about Mitchell?
There would probably have been no video made. If there was, he would have been the one to run it. His shot might have been in it, but probably not, since he didn't know it was coming. It would have been him talking about what happened, how awesome (or not!) he thought it was.
More likely, it would have gone the same way the tradition of leaving managers and sometimes injured seniors (especially injured captains!) goes, had it really been about Mitchell. Suit up. Get put in. Teammates try to help him get a basket. He gets one or doesn't, and everyone forgets about it a week later because it's just what teams do for their managers. It's not about him being developmentally disabled and obsessed with basketball. It's just about him being the team manager. The school newspaper might publish a short thing: "Team wishes farewell to their manager, plays him in final game."
But it wasn't about Mitchell. He barely talked. He was barely shown. It was all other people talking about how wonderful they were for doing what they did. Yeah, they erased him from what should have been his story. He became the Object, not the Subject.
When you tell me that these sorts of things are not about me, you are more right than you know. They're not about the disabled people in them. They're meant to inspire abled people, and they're about the abled people around the disabled person.
That's the problem.
When the disabled person is a passive object in inspiring abled people, it's all kinds of icky. I don't care how good your intentions were. Well, that's not really true. If your intentions are as good as you think they are, you'll care more about the fact that it's not having the effect you wanted than just to be upset that people aren't seeing you as a good person for it. You'll want to know how to fix it. You'll want to know what you should do.
It's listen to the people who are telling you that you're Doing It Wrong, by the way. And listening to why. And learning the difference between "I recognize your good intentions, but it's not working, it's hurting, here's why" and "You're a horrible person and you fail and I'm going to s*** all over you." And learning. Learning hurts, because you have to recognize the bad things you did before you learned. But then you can treat disabled people like people, not as objects for your inspiration


  1. Thank you for saying these things.

  2. I recognize their good intentions, and you are right, it did not work quite the way they thought it did. And you are dead right about Mitchell not really being the subject of the story.

    For some reason I have never fully comprehended, a lot of people just don't get how distasteful objectification of a human being is, and why it doesn't elevate the person being objectified, it lowers them. You'd think this would be especially apparent to women, and yet...

    Well put, Alyssa, as always.

  3. Thank you. Concisely and powerfully explained.

  4. Here is my take on the basketball game. You're correct. Good intention does not equal good result.

  5. What really gets me surprised is the way people seem to think "They seem to have had good intentions but didn't get it quite right, and here's the analysis explaining where it went wrong..." is the exact same thing as "HATE! EVIL! DARTH VADER AND VOLDEMORT PUT TOGETHER!" However, I am not sure why this continues to surprise me, because some people seem to translate almost everything into that second thing. I do not know what to do about this.

    1. Yes, Ibby. I really don't get why a large number of people seem to go *out of their way* to get offended at the smallest sign of a divergent opinion. Some can be so instinctively defensive... It's that whole validation thing I guess. Somehow by having a different take on something than some people, it means you hate them and think they are awful people... or something like that. (As a homeschooler, I get this a lot from people who send their children to school. As if my deciding I'd like to teach my own means that I hate all teachers and think parents who send their kids to school suck, even though that has nothing to do with it and is SO far from the truth.)

      As you well know, this translates all the more awfully when parents of kids on the spectrum or with other special needs come into question. And the whole "Autistic" Vs "Person-with" debacle that continually happens. And, let's be honest, with some very assertive Autistic adults too. It happens on both ends. There seem to be an alarmingly small number of people that have a knack for diplomacy, or at a minimum the good sense to know when they are on the receiving end of it. I don't know what is to be done about it either. So frustrating. SOO frustrating.

  6. The title of the video is not "Hero of the Day: Mitchell Marcus" It is "Hero of the day: Coach Peter Morales"

    As Alyssa said in the commentary in the previous post, playing outgoing seniors and managers in the last game is a thing.

    However this situation was manufactured by the coach to have mass dramatic effect and draw attention from at least local media and parents. National attention was guaranteed after the act of the opposing player in the final play, and this coach and CBS News spared nothing in objectifying Mitchell, dramatizing this moment way out of perspective and deifying coach for giving Mitchell one moment of dignity and normalcy.

    How about giving Mitchell dignity and respect for the things he does every day like every other human being deserves and not making him inspirational mascot #172 of year 2013AD that you might see again on a New Years Eve retrospective on YouTube but will have long forgotten his name.

  7. Thank you for this. To paraphrase Vince Lombardi, I agree 110%.

  8. Great post on this topic and in parsing the right issue and only that issue!

  9. I appreciate your explaining this so well. Ableism can be so insidiously embedded in the way we do and see things, that those of us who have not experienced that kind of treatment or judgment may not even be aware. That is - until we can read articles like this.

    I am listening carefully and learning.
    Thank you for your perspective!



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