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

Friday, August 2, 2013

Cognitive Accessibility and Pathologization

 At the NCIE Summer Institute (NCIE=National Center for Inclusive Education,) I went out and did social stuff with some people. I was talking about one of the presentations I went to. It was about universal access, which is really cool. There was an activity which was pretty much geared towards would-be-teachers, which makes sense since universal design for curriculum is something the people doing lesson plans (teachers) need to be involved in if it's going to happen. Thing is, the activity was cognitively inaccessible to me. I'll talk about that in a later post, mostly how it could be made accessible to someone whose brain works like mine- I asked the presenter if I could and she said sure, also that it's information she wants.
Anyways, I was talking about how it was cognitively inaccessible to me. Someone asked me, "Isn't that pathologizing yourself?" I was a bit confused. It was using jargon that I didn't necessarily need to use, but the non-jargon words come with some implication that it's a problem with me that I couldn't do the activity. (In this case, cognitively inaccessible meant that there were things in the activity I was not capable of doing because my brain would get stuck. It could also be a problem with the instructions, but in this case it was with the actual thing I was being asked to do.) Since I chose the jargonish words to avoid implying that the problem was with me and my brain (the activity isn't bad, it just needs modifications available to make it accessible,) I'm kind of doing the opposite of pathologizing myself. (That would be calling myself broken or defective or bad because there is a thing I can't do or that I do differently and approaching it as meaning I need to be fixed.)
I think that complicated words people may not always know is part of how we get this kind of confusion. I know that sitting at later parts of the conference, I keep hearing words where I'm thinking "I have no clue what you are saying."
I don't think it's the whole thing. I think the tendency for "disability is something wrong with you" type people to use big words means that a lot of us expect to see that model wherever we see big words talking about disability. That needs to change, too.
I think there's still more. I think that professionals come up with jargon that means the opposite of what it sounds like it should mean. I'm not the only one who thinks a lot of the jargon is really bad. When it's meant to be a word for a concept, a technical term can be good. When it's meant to say something, a technical term can be good. I know this. I'm an engineering student and a mathematics student- I really know this. But when it's meant to say nearly the opposite of what it really means so that everyone is confused, or when it is meant to take a concept that already has a word and give it a different word because disabled people have to sound even more different, it's not good. (Doubleplusungood but still orthodoxy, perhaps? A lot of disability stuff seems to be doubleplusungood but still orthodoxy, as Michael came up with after reading 1984. The jargon also reminds me of other 1984 stuff, but more on that later.)
We managed to wind up in a place where people take my word for "My brain doesn't work with this activity and I am saying the activity needs to have modifications available to deal with that" and say it is making me broken. No, it is me saying I'm not broken.

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