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 21, 2013

The Freak Show

Trigger Warning: Ableism

I didn't see it. A friend of mine did. A father referred to a group of special needs young adults (I don't love the term, but it's the one the friend used and it's a lot better than the one this father used, plus I don't know the language preference of the people in this group- that might be the one they like, and the preference of the person being referred to is what matters here) as the freak show, in front of his kids. It was loud enough for my friend to hear it. Depending on physical location of the various people, I can't make any assumptions about the young adults having heard, but I wouldn't be surprised if they did. Especially if sensory processing issues are part of the story- I know that my ears are super-sensitive and I sometimes hear things people say, thinking I'm out of earshot. (Did he think about the idea that the people he was talking about might hear him? Would he care? Would he assume that they wouldn't understand if they did hear? I understand what people say in front of me, even when I can't speak...)
There are some disabled people (that's a term I use) who feel like they have reclaimed the word freak. There are plenty of neurodivergent people (also a term I use, yes it applies to me, no it's not a synonym for autistic because there are ways and ways to be neurodivergent) who feel like they have reclaimed the word freak. I tend not to use it for myself, but I know it's a thing. Freaks, Geeks, and Asperger's Syndrome is a book title, and I think it was written by an autistic person.
That's not the same thing as a presumably able-bodied neurotypical man calling a group of disabled people a freak show. Freak shows are where differences (often disabilities) are used as entertainment. They're often exploiting the people in them. The whole idea of a freak show basically comes down to "point and laugh at this person." That's not OK.
That's not the same as a father doing so in front of two young children. Ableism is learned, folks. This is part of how it's learned. I don't want to live in a world where everyone wants to ignore the ways I am different, certainly, but this isn't the way to pay attention to differences.
This? It implies that a freak show is where they (we, I) belong. It implies that we don't belong in mainstream society. We're having a lot of trouble fighting for inclusion, and this sort of attitude is part of the problem. This sort of thing? What we call people is important, it shapes how we think about them, it shapes all kinds of things. And calling a group of people the freak show? It shapes thinking towards a whole lot of bad things. It's not OK. It's not what we should be teaching the kids.

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