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

Friday, February 22, 2013

Nothing So Passive

Trigger Warning: Silencing, possibly erasure

"You shouldn't let it define you :)"
"You shouldn't let it define you :)"
Let it define me? Is that really what you think this is? My decision to call myself Autistic, to tell you that I am Autistic and that's who I am and that's fine, in fact, that's awesome and I'm awesome is nothing as passive as letting my autism define me. I am more than just autism, of course, just as I am more than just an engineering student and I am more than just a blogger and I am more than just Jewish and I am more than just a singer. I could go on. When I call myself any of those things, you don't tell me how I shouldn't let those define me. Maybe with those things, you realize that this kind of statement is nothing so passive?
Because it's not passive. It's not even something like passivity. In fact, it is even less passive to identify myself with I am Autistic than it is to identify myself with I am a student or whatever else I can and do identify myself with. Or should I say, it is even more assertive?
It's more assertive because it is an identity that I am stating with an I am in the face of people telling me how I shouldn't, how it's something to be embarrassed of, how it's something that I shouldn't let be a defining characteristic, how it's something that I have and that doesn't have me or however you want to separate me from my neurology today. It's more assertive because there is something to assert against. The more you tell me how I shouldn't let my autism define me, the less it is a matter of letting anything define me and more a matter of asserting my own identity.
I am not letting the fact that I am Autistic define me. I am asserting that I am Autistic, and I am demanding that you recognize one of my major defining characteristics for what it is. That's not passive. That's active. That's not letting. That's insisting.
You tell me I shouldn't let my autism define me.
I tell you that it's not possible to simply let it define me. If I were to be passive enough for it to be a matter of letting, I would be letting you separate me from my own brain.
I tell you that of all my defining characteristics, this is the one people try hardest not to recognize as one, and thus it is the one that I am insisting on. You don't want me to let it define me? You've already succeeded, then, as this is nothing so passive.


  1. Identity politics is fascinating. Why do people seek to tell others which traits can be identities and which cannot? Why do the traits people are most often told not to identify with place those people at definite points on axes of privilege and marginalization? I notice that it's controversial to identify as a member of either the majority or any marginalized minority, but that it's not controversial to identify as a member of groups that are neither privileged nor oppressed (e.g., bloggers or members of fandom).

    On another note, does my draft for Autistic People Should meet with your approval? I recall that you wanted to vet it before it was posted; it's on the GDoc, and, if it does meet with your approval, I'll post it on my blog now and you can also post it with the others tomorrow.

  2. My initial thought was that these people want to distinguish between things that you choose to be and things that you just are regardless of what you might choose, and that they label as more "assertive" the claiming of your choices, and they want you to distance yourself from the rest.

    Then I thought how absurd it would be for me to say "I have maleness" instead of "I am male".

    Of course all along the more important issue is that people have the right and privilege of choosing their own way of describing themselves!

  3. I just want to say that I discovered your blog today and I really enjoy this post. My younger brother is Autistic and I am always looking to learn more from other Autistic individuals who can express their thoughts and feelings about it more than he is able to.


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.