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.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Neurodiversity Committee

A while back, there was an "Open Space Conference" at my university. It was supposed to be on a general theme of diversity. I got in line, grabbed a microphone, and announced that I would run a room talking about neurodiversity. I hoped to get a few people, educate a few people.
I got more people than I expected. One came from Disability Services.
We talked about stuff related to neurodiversity. It was good. Universal design came up, different ways of running classrooms that make it so that some of the things we currently see as accommodations wouldn't be accommodations anymore was mentioned. (Seriously. Just have a note-taker be a standard position for classes where the teacher doesn't make their own notes, and that takes care of needing it as an accommodation. Make the files you upload be screen-readable. Include transcripts for audio files by default. It will mean less work for people whose needs are documentable and save the academic hides of those who don't have documentation for whatever reason. Different methods of assessment being available, choose some number minimum out of the total ways that are to count. It's going to help everyone, and it could save someone's academic hide.)
Action points were brought up. Getting a working definition was one of them, doing some education for the campus, was another. And we put them up on a wall. Everyone was allowed to vote on which ones would get committees and get worked on. (There were something like 20 presentations given over the course of the day, 10 were going to get worked on.) I missed the vote because I had a class and a lab, but Neurodiversity did get voted for. Apparently Universal Design and Inclusive Pedagogy also got voted for. I think that Neurodiversity should be talking to both of these groups, but Inclusive Pedagogy seems pretty focused on racial inclusion and I don't want to derail them. I do have my own committee, after all. Talking about the intersectional stuff would be nice, though. Things like issues that people of color face in the diagnostic system, issues in disability services, how to have Inclusive Pedagogy stuff be inclusive for multiply marginalized people, how Inclusive Pedagogy is useful for Neurodiversity and how Neurodiversity fits in with them. For Universal Design, though, I really, really think that's a collaboration that can and should happen. A lot of the things that would make the school more neurodiversity-friendly also fall under Universal Design, and that part of things we could work on together.
Anyways, the committee has action points and things it needs to present. We've got a working definition of neurodiversity, though the disability services person on the committee is convinced that something about the legal frameworks belongs in the definition of neurodiversity. I... don't think so. Neurodiversity is a paradigm, we're not defining "what disability services does," we're defining "the lens we're looking through."
We're also hoping to get some training stuff for faculty back up and running. There apparently used to be one, and it did talk specifically about Aspergers. Which is about to not be a thing under DSM-5, plus there is the issue of there being people on campus who are neurodivergent in ways other than just Aspergers. It needs to be more inclusive. (Also, Disability Services needs to get it through their heads that properly accommodated Autistic people can and do go to college, and are just as qualified as everyone else. AAC devices do not mean incapable of college, they just mean that AAC works better than oral speech at least some of the time. They keep talking like it's just people with Aspergers who would be coming to college. To an Autistic person who isn't Aspergers.)
So that's kind of what's going on there. It's bureacracy, and it's slow, and the people need a decent bit of education. But they are willing to learn, and they think the idea of looking at this stuff through the idea of diversity rather than of being broken or wrong makes sense. Oh, and they liked the whole "Add neurodiversity to Diversity Week" idea. Which means I might actually participate in Diversity Week stuff once I get back from China.

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