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

Monday, July 22, 2013

1984 and... Neurodiversity?

Trigger Warning: Ableism, sexism, totalitarianism

Funnily enough, yes. Michael started it, I think. If not, he at least came up with it independently- I haven't googled yet to see if anyone else is doing this sort of thing, or with this book. That Autistic That Newtown Forgot is in on it too. I've actually used 1984 as a major source in research papers twice. My senior research paper in high school was about fear tactics and social control. It's got problems. I'll probably talk about those problems in a later post. (Autistic That Newtown Forgot, I'm looking at you because that's your thing too.) I talked about 1984 again in "Dehumanization of the Party and its Members in 1984," my final paper for a summer literature class I took for general education credits. I mentioned it briefly when talking about why moving graduation indoors out of fear was a bad idea. And yes, I had a bag with me at graduation that security didn't know I had. It was that pathetic. But now? We're talking about 1984 stuff and neurodiversity stuff.

Michael talks about the concept of facecrime, quoting the bit in 1984 where it is mentioned.
In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face (to look incredulous when a victory was announced, for example) was itself a punishable offence. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: facecrime, it was called. (Orwell 65.)
 This is a book written in 1948, and while the word facecrime is not used in literature describing the "treatment" of autism, the concept is there. Autistic people are often described as having a "flat affect," and this is one of the "symptoms" that people aim to treat with things like ABA. One of the things that autistic people are taught, then, is quite literally that facecrime gets you in trouble with adults. Leaving out the word facecrime and choosing flat affect or inappropriate body language/inappropriate facial expressions doesn't change this.
Then An Anonymous Newtown Autistic gets into neurotypical performativity based off the idea of gender performativity. I think about a female character I read as autistic, who spends 8 years pretending to be a boy. I just finished the rough draft of a piece about her author's works in general and neurodiversity, and I mentioned how some of her gender passing stuff parallels the experiences of autistic people passing for neurotypical. I read both Michael's and the Newtown Autistic's blogs again. There is even a point where facial expressions show up as a thing Alanna may need to control in passing as a man- as the heir's squire, she has to dance with the women at social events, and she can't exactly show how much she dislikes it: people would suspect "Squire Alan" to be off in some way. Perhaps they would only think him gay (not accepted in Tortall, unfortunately,) rather than guessing that Alan is really Alanna, but... not a safe risk, especially when even the less worrisome of the possible assumptions could still get her into trouble. An autistic woman passing as a man must control her facial expression, or bad things could happen: There is gender performativity; there is an autistic person; there are facial expressions at play.
Then there is the idea of Ingsoc aiming to make its members inhuman, while autistic people are often seen as inhuman (subhuman, often.) Ownlife, eccentricity: condemned by Ingsoc, so an actual autistic person in the Party would be in trouble quickly, as we are by nature different from the typical.
Or how O'Brian wants to cure Wilson of his "insanity" of believing the past immutable, the idea of sanity being culturally constructed, the idea that when one is considered insane almost anything can be further evidence of insanity (Rosenhan 1973.) Often enough, it is from body language (and real-time readings of reactions by machines), including facial expressions, that O'Brian uses to "know" what Wilson is thinking, so it is once again a sort of facecrime, though Wilson is already convicted and doomed. With many autistic people, it is often the body language and facial expressions that authority figures should know they can't actually read which get us into trouble- either our expression is "wrong" for how they and we know ourselves to be feeling, or they insist we feel what they would express with our current facial expressions, which are the "wrong" thing to be feeling. By being autistic, we are already convicted and doomed, just as Wilson is already convicted and doomed by being in the Ministry of Love.

Orwell, George. 1984. New York: Penguin, 1989.
David L. Rosenhan, “On Being Sane in Insane Places,” Science, Vol. 179 (Jan. 1973), 250-258.

1 comment:

  1. It kind of makes me glad that I was diagnosed at age 24 rather than 4. That said, I still copped a milder version of this treatment as a boy. Do not look there, do not look here, why are you wearing that expression when you look at me, and on it goes.

    Our future generations are going to be so very, very messed up.


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