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

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Consent With Disabilities Introduction (PLEASE comment with input!)

I will be editing this according to input from people whose disabilities can affect communication. You do not have to tell me what your specific disability is or what causes it. You don't need to know what your specific label is. You can comment. It is helpful. Please, share with others who can comment, and please, if you have a thought tell me.

Trigger Warning: Abuse

This resource is designed to help people whose disabilities affect communication and their partners negotiate and communicate consent. Just using this resource will not prevent abuse, and if any person winds up in a situation they are not comfortable in, that is not their fault. If this happens to you, it is not your fault. You are not to blame for being abused. You are not to blame if something you are not comfortable with happens and you were not capable of communicating it. You are not to blame if you were silent because you were afraid. You are not to blame if you were silent because you have been told that your comfort does not matter. You are not to blame if your disability directly prevented you from communicating. You are not to blame if your communication was misunderstood or ignored.
Once again: This resource will not prevent abuse on its own. If a person looking to abuse “helps” another person use this resource, it will not prevent them from abusing. This resource is able to educate. This resource does ask questions that may help when trying to establish consent. This resource can help avoid situations where a disability leads to the impression of consent where there is none. This resource can help avoid situations where purposefully taught anti-skills lead to the impression of consent where there is none-but only if all people using this resource have those goals.

A few things for a person whose disability can affect communication to think about before using the checklists (note that not every such disability is primarily a communication disability):

Do you sometimes have trouble setting boundaries? Are there things that make it easier for you to do so? (Would filling out the checklist away from your partner(s) help you to set the boundary initially? Would you have difficulty telling your partner(s) so if they asked, and would filling this out before they even know it exists help with that? Should you write a note to your partner(s) telling them that they shouldn't ask you if you're sure about any boundary that you set in there because you have trouble with setting boundaries?) Do your partner(s) know about this issue?
Does your partner ask questions that imply a desired answer? Is this something they do knowingly? (Are they working on not doing this or are they OK with this? If they are OK with this, that is major red flag.)
Do you have trouble with multiple choice questions? Does a space to write in why answer X isn't quite right or explain your answer help with that? Does a person helping you understand the question help with this issue? Who is the best person to have help with this? (It might not be your partner(s), especially if your partner(s) are still working on asking questions which do not imply an answer.)

A few things to think about if your partner's disability can affect communication:

Have you noticed that your partner(s) have trouble setting boundaries? Are there any circumstances under which they find it easier to do so? Do you know how to ask questions that don't imply a specific answer? How can you let my partner(s) know about this resource so that they feel comfortable using the checklists independently or with someone else's help if desired? Do you think you would be able to help your partner(s) use these checklists without affecting their ability to set firm boundaries?

If you and your partner(s) have disabilities that can affect communication, you should be thinking about both sets of issues before using the checklists included in this resource. Regardless of who has disabilities, communication barriers caused by physical location needs considering. Negotiating a plan beforehand and then using a different communication method for “continue along the prior plan” vs. “get to a place where more complicated communication is possible, then discuss changes to the plan” is one possible way to handle this.


  1. Reading this, I get stuck on the words. I'm usually good with words. Very good. But I think what's going wrong is that I can't figure out what the answer is supposed to be. And that's probably exactly the reaction you want.

    However, I get so stuck on the words that they stop making sense. It's almost like a foreign language. Language spoken by people who know what is right and wrong. Caretakers. Authority. Leaving me to follow orders or flounder unsupported.

    I know you can't offer resources that have language that might be leading. There's just too much that can go wrong, no matter how well-intentioned. But this leaves me at the other extreme. At a loss for words. And I'm usually good with words. Maybe someone who isn't good with words will have a different reaction.

    1. The questions on the checklists themselves are still *not leading* but get a bit more specific. The questions here, though, are important, and... unless someone else can tell me how to ask them better without leading, I don't think I can do better. (If you know how...)

  2. My partner and I have a set of physical gestures we've set up as a kind of "home sign" for when my words aren't working due to pain or upset or illness. A martial-arts style double-tap means "Stop, let go and move away from me immediately," for example.

  3. I would find the long lists of questions easier to follow if they were formatted as a nested bulleted list to better show the hierarchy.

    Also, the references to "this issue" in several places are confusing-- which issue? Just the issue of communication disability in general? This also might be made more clear by having the hierarchical structure so I can tell what the "this issue" question is a sub-question of.

  4. I'm mildly Aspie and a bit aphasic, so I'm rarely happy with how I understand and use words.

    But it seems to me that all English speakers have problems with the word 'consent' and so a lot of them also have trouble with the concept. I'm no exception.

    WTF is consent anyway?

    Maybe you can get the sense of it with long term partners, but what about new ones?

    If someone doesn't say 'no' because they're scared of you or sorry for you or don't want to embarrass themselves by seeming a 'tease' or feel obliged because you paid for dinner or because they're bipolar (like me) and are having a manic sex rush or they're a bit drunk or because they think you might marry them if they do even though you won't or ...
    have they given 'consent'?

    And what about 'informed consent'?

    If you haven't told them you've got an STI or that you scream when you orgasm or that you were born a different gender or that you don't actually like them and just want a zipless or that you're Julian Assange and you tore the condom or that you're an Arab not a Jew or that you're an undercover cop or a toilet cleaner or that you're below the age of consent or that you've got false teeth or that you're going to write about it on your blog or that you're married or ...

    I don't think anyone is going to get anywhere with this until we can all agree about what consent IS.

    And I see very little sign of that happening.

    1. If they don't say no because they're scared, that's not consent.
      If they don't say no because they feel sorry for you, that one is kind of questionable.
      If they say yes because they feel obligated to, that's not consent.
      Legally, a drunk person can't consent. I don't know what the story is for bipolar and manic sex rush, I think the person who has them would need to decide for themselves if they are capable of consent during one.(Decide NOT during one!)
      If you have to lie to get the yes, it's not consent. (Tearing the condom on purpose is a form of lying. It breaking randomly is not.)
      If you're below the age of consent, YOU are the one who can't consent.
      If you think a piece of information is important to your consent, you should *ask.* If you don't ask, they have no reason to know it was important. If you do ask, and they lie? That's bad.
      Like, most of these things have been gone over in places and it just won't spread because people suck.


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.