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

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Defiance: Successful and Important

People who have known me for years tend not to think of me that way, but my stubborn streak can and does manifest as a defiant streak when the thing I want is against what people in power think I should do. I've actually been ignoring what my school wants me to do for a long time. I think third grade was the first time that I actually shouted at a school administrator, and I've done it several times since. I'm usually better at being a controlled angry (still angry, but I'm hitting your verbal pressure points instead of yelling at you,) but sometimes a nice shouting match during which I explain at full volume exactly why you are not capable of stopping me so you'd better get used to it is exactly what's needed to remind someone that official authority and actual ability to make me do what they want me to do aren't always the same. That's the thing. It's not. Punishing me for not doing it? Sure. But what happens when it's counterproductive to punish my defiance? That's happened. And if I pick my battles such that punishing my refusal to do what they want requires pushing me further from what they actually want (also a thing,) then I can get my way fairly well.
It's about power. Often it's about reminding people that they don't have quite as much power as they think they do, or that I'm not actually powerless and am aware of my own power. One fun example was with my guidance counselor back before the start of my senior year of high school. I'd been signed up for semesters each of creative writing, digital music, animation, and java. Creative writing and digital music were because I wanted them. Animation and java were there because two of my academic classes wound up being at the same time, I couldn't take both (and thankfully got my counselor to drop the right one,) and had just gone with the suggestions of the counselor for what to put in that space because I didn't really like any of the options. Turns out later that I needed a study hall. She dropped me from my electives because she thought animation and java would look better for college. (She had pulled the same thing trying to get me to not sign up for creative writing again in the first place: She knew better than to try that.) Needless to say, I was upset. I started off nice, being all “Well, I disagree because....” I don't remember what all I said then. It didn't work. I knew why she wasn't fixing my schedule: Digital music and creative writing “don't look as good for college” if you're very much the math/science student. So how can I make her enforcement of the classes that make me “look good for college” on my schedule actually make me look worse for college? That's the pressure point. Being constantly in trouble for cutting classes and my study hall looks a whole lot worse than doing well in an “easy” class that's not relevant to the majors I seemed likely to (and did) declare. So: “I know when and where the electives I initially signed up for are. I highly suggest you make my schedule match where I'm going to be.” That's the defiant streak out. That got action. I left her office that day with an updated schedule that had creative writing and digital music back on it and a study hall replaced animation and java, as it was supposed to.
That one only works if the reason they're pushing is because of a fear of how I look on paper, though. It worked because she had my best interest in mind and just disagreed on what my best interest was. I come up with a stubbornness level where her refusal to let me do what I want is going to be worse for her than letting me do what I want. That's the part that carries over. If you can find the position to take where it costs them more to refuse than to give in, that's now your weapon. Be careful, because it tends to mean a major hit to your relationship (not always, but often enough that you should assume that it will,) but that's the big gun. (In that story, it did cost something on my relationship with the guidance counselor, but not as much as expected. She also respected my stubbornness instead of deciding it was pathological, so that was a thing.)

1 comment:

  1. It is *so* important to teach autistic kids defiance of authority. Sometimes, what we KNOW we need isn't what looks good to people in charge. (Taking acting classes--and then double-majoring in drama--was one of the best things I ever did for myself, even though other people didn't understand why. I also took creative writing in both high school and college, also as a science major.)

    Usually I've found that people in arbitrary positions of authority don't actually have your best interests at heart. They'll make it out that they do, but it's far more their own convenience that they're trying to protect, usually.

    Then there are cases like yours with your guidance counselor where someone *does* have your best interests in mind...they're just wrong. (I've never understood the rationale that taking classes you're less interested in, in order to look good to someone else, actually looks better than taking what you're interested in because you're authentically interested.)

    Kids need to be able to recognize when they know themselves, and know their needs, better than parents and teachers, and to be able to stand up for them.


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