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, August 18, 2013

Answering Questions

Trigger Warning: References to murder of people with disabilities, presumptions of incompetence

The questions are in a comment on Mama Be Good.
What Does The Neurodiversity Movement Want?

And the Sue Rubins, Tracy Threshers, Larry Bissonetes...are they the exception rather than the rule? Since Tracy and Larry still use FC, does that diminish what they say?I studied under Doug Biklen and others at Syracuse University, but still could not believe that inside each and every person with autism was an 'intact brain' that could read and write.
So do the neurodiveristy people want those of us who are educators to leave the very impaired young people alone, to 'be' who they are, and support their very substantial needs?
So that leave me as an educator and therapist confused about what to do in my role in the schools.... reduce stimming? Support stimming?
(This isn't the whole comment. I just pulled questions out, mostly.)

Without people actually presuming competence and trying to teach everybody, you'll never get an answer. The results of folks actually trying this stuff suggests that they are actually the rule, not the exception, but if you act like it's an exception and don't try they're going to look like an exception. (No one needed to try to do what I did, because they couldn't.)
There are some people who can't use language. Amanda Baggs has written about them some. She's actually one of the people where I'd suggest reading her whole blog, even though I haven't finished doing so yet myself.
There are people FC doesn't work for, because they don't use language. (I think Amanda talked about that on her Tumblr, not her Wordpress.) They aren't having great successes with it, though. Because they don't use language. This is a thing that exists. It's not the same as not speaking, and it's not the same as not being able to start typing independently straight off, and it's definitely not the same thing as non-speaking, trained cat to facilitate typing at need, so without trying, it's not safe to assume that it won't work, that the person can't learn to type. (If you can control what a person types by putting your hand on the small of their back, please, do tell- this is not a thing that makes half as much sense as "the person can type and has movement issues" but it's a thing that some people like to say sometimes.)
So, no, not every autistic person can learn to read and write because of the whole not everyone uses language thing that Amanda likes to point out, but trying to see if they can? Kind of important. Trying all the ways? Kind of important.
I can't speak for every neurodiversity activist, but these are some guesses I can make. I am a neurodiversity activist and I want these things, and I know other neurodiversity activists wanting those things too, generally. Assume that I have left out a bunch of stuff, though I think that "want people to be accepted as people" should get most of those things to logically follow.
Neurodiversity activists want you to stop making false binaries.
  • Leaving people alone and trying to force them to be normal are not the only choices, and if you've ever raised or taught a weird but presumably NT kid, you already know that. It still applies- there are more than two options.
  • High functioning/low functioning aren't lines you can really draw well, and trying to say who is and isn't OK based on those attempted lines? Not good.
Neurodiversity activists want people to be accepted as people, regardless of what their abilities seem to be and/or turn out to actually be once you try teaching them/seeing them as people. This includes people who don't use language.
Neurodiversity activists want you to realize that advocacy is for everyone, and it doesn't always look like your picture of it. I want you to read Amanda Baggs piece on this in Loud Hands: Autistic People Speaking as well, FYI. I can't link it because I don't remember if/where it can be found online.
Neurodiversity activists want to be a part of the broader disability rights movement. We think getting excluded from a disability rights movement because of our disabilities is pretty ironic, FYI.
Neurodiversity activists want people to quit using evolution arguments in eugenicist ways. I'm going to put on my scientist hat and say that those people are doing science wrong. Evolution isn't stepwise, so calling autism the next step in human evolution is just silly. Diversity is a thing that nature has been "willing" to pay a pretty high price for, since environments change and therefore the most advantageous traits to have will change- and so will the most advantageous ratios of different kinds of traits, since having one species that does all the things isn't actually how this works. Ecosystems have niches, filled by different species that do different things. Human societies have niches too, best filled by different people with different things they can do. And when times change, the different kinds of niches change in number. Keeping as many traits around as possible is evolutionarily advantageous, and yes, that means heritable disabilities, and yes, that means heritable mental differences. I should not need to explain the exact use of every single possible difference because neither I nor anyone else can be reasonably expected to know all of those answers.
Neurodiversity activists want you to realize that a person's education does not require that they be "table-ready." Sometimes, it depends on remaining table-unready: mine continues to. [That's a big loud NO to suppress stimming. Go ahead and help a student find substitute stims, working with them on this, not saying which ones must work or anything, should there be one or two that really do cause problems in the classroom, but also be accepting of the fact that the substitute stim will probably look weird too, and of the fact that sometimes they really are just going to need to step out/to the back for that stim.]
And what might be the biggest thing of all:
Neurodiversity activists want you to quit murdering us, and to quit calling it mercy or making excuses for other folks who do it.
What Does The Neurodiversity Movement Want?
What Does The Neurodiversity Movement Want?

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for your thoughtful answer to this question. There are more than two options to helping them stop stimming and not helping them - YES!


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