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

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Echolalia Gets Me Pickles: Autistic Playing Ultimate

I'm Autistic. I'm in college. I play on my college Ultimate Frisbee team.
I don't pass for neurotypical, either. I'm not consistently capable of speech, and Ultimate is a sport where we're typically expected to be talking to our teammates. The team knows that I will do this if I am capable, but that this is a bit of an if. And that's OK. It took some time for them to figure out that I really do understand when I should say a thing and what I should say, I'm just not always capable of doing so (it took until I managed to explain this, which it doesn't occur to me to do except right after this happens- you know, while I'm probably still not able to speak? There's a bit of a catch-22 there, but I did manage to explain eventually, after I started bringing my iPad to tournaments.) But once I explained that? That was it.

Or the fact that I'm not always going to be particularly social, that parties for "team bonding" can be overwhelming? The captains agreed to send me an email or tell me at practice later if anything important was announced at a party that I hadn't been able to go to, had left early, or had gone to sleep under a table early. (Yes, I did that my freshman year. The party plan had been to bring everyone to the captain's house, party, and stay over before the tournament in the morning, and I was the first one asleep by a long shot. And that was OK too.)

Or, back during a week full of tests where I was also dealing with some cyber harassment issues (not related to the team,) and then at practice we were supposed to do a thing that I'm just not capable of. I kept trying, though, because "I can't do this" isn't a thing I'm supposed to have to say... ever. I'm not really autistic, after all... (That's completely false, by the way, I'm Autistic and pretty obviously so. It's just an internal monologue that gets installed in every autistic person who accomplishes things. If you're not a pity case, you just need to stop pretending to have problems, or something like that, it's the functioning labels false binary again, and ableism is to blame for both sides of it.) My continued attempts to keep doing a thing that I can't actually do, combined with old bullying (again, not with this team) coming back to haunt me, plus having been under a lot of stress all week, meant that I melted down at practice. I had enough warning that I found a semi-hidden corner behind a hurdle and next to one of the structural columns, and then welcome to meltdown-land. Both captains came over, asked me if I was OK (no) and if there was anything they could do (back off, ask again when I'm done flipping out,) and then actually did what I'd said. They checked in with me later, I let them know what all was up. They told me that if there is a thing that I really don't have the motor skills to do, I should do what I can and not worry about dropping out of the activity, which I've been working on. Oh, and I proceeded to melt down again after practice because I'm always scared of reactions and I was convinced it was only a matter of time until the other shoe dropped and they kicked me off the team.

A couple practices later, they wanted to talk to me after practice. I was convinced that was going to be the "you can't be on this team" or some such thing. Nope. It was a "Spring Break is going to have this set of things that we think could be difficult for you, these are some things we can think of that we may be able to do to help, and it's up to you to figure out anything else to run by us/anything else you can prepare for yourself/if you're better off skipping, let us know if there are other things we can do to help" talk. That's the one where I told them that I'm Autistic. Our coach already knew that I had some sort of disability, but I don't think he'd known exactly what it was.

I went on Spring Break with the team. It was good. I didn't do all that much social stuff with the team outside of the actual tournament games, and I sometimes went off to the side on my own when the rest of the girl's team watched the boys team play, but it went fine. Spring Break is when echolalia got me pickles, too.

See, we were in Florida, at the Tally Classic tournament. They had an unopened jar of pickles at the food tent (tournaments often supply food to participating teams.) And I saw them. And I was all "There are pickles! Because pickles! Pickles pickles pickles pickles..." jumping and flapping. I was acting very stereotypically Autistic. They hadn't been planning to open the jar for another hour or so, but they did, right then, and gave me a PICKLE. I like pickles. I walked back to my sideline singing "pickle pickle pickle pickle..." to myself, eating my PICKLE. So yes. Echolalia got me a PICKLE.
Early in the season, I had used my iPad to type when I lost speech at practice and still wanted to go for dinner/ice cream with my team mates. Later in the season (en route to Sectionals) I joked "My autism's showing, don't let it run away!" and people laughed. At sectionals, I used the iPad in front of the whole team- after the games, we went around and said a thing that we thought the team did well, a think we thought we did well, and a thing we thought we needed to work on. That was three separate circles around for three different open-ended questions of the sort that I have trouble with. For the first, I was able to type and then read my answer, but for the second two I wound up passing my iPad over to a teammate to have her read what I'd typed. And no one had an issue with it. My team did well at "Autistic person on the team" and the whole "Autistic adult is an adult," and it was good. So yeah.

I think that "Echolalia gets me pickles" being the biggest thing that sticks out in my mind from the season says good things about the team.

This is in the Down Wit Dat August 2014 Blog Hop, BTW. The theme is about how disabilities and such are a natural part of life.


  1. Thank you sharing you experiences. As a parent of a 10 year old Autistic son his echolalia gets him things too. It difficult & frustrating at times for him to communicate. We don't own an ipad but I guess it might be worth it to buy one for him. Thank you again for sharing.

  2. This gives me hope that there are understanding people out there! Echolalia hasn't gotten me what I wanted (yet), but I've done some awkward and age-inappropriate gestures (out of irritation toward some people around me more than anything else, long story!) that did get me an apology in the form of two hot dogs lol. I ended up keeping it in the fridge for awhile because I was so shocked that my autistic behavior had gotten something in return and was actually very scared to eat it! lol


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