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

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Liveblogging the Anonymous Newtown Autistic

Trigger Warning: Murder of disabled people, ableism

Today I respond to An Anonymous Newtown Autistic. A lot of their writing is hard for me to parse (conflicting access needs, perhaps, in terms of them needing to use the more academic terminology because it's the words they know and my brain bouncing off that same terminology unless I am at full energy, despite my ability to use [some of] it at need?) So heads up that while what I am sure of what my current opinions are, I'm not sure they're saying what I think they're saying.
My brain does bounce off their title: The Situation and The Cultural-EpistemicBreak in Neurodiversity: Sarte/Camus, Debord/Foucault, and ASAN. Situation and ASAN make sense, and I assume a cultural-epistemic break is some sort of divide, but that's about what I can get.
The second sentence, spread over multiple lines using line breaks, has enough glossary-type parentheticals that I can manage it, though it takes me some time to figure out. I'm OK with it taking time.
The distinction is between looking at history and making assumptions about it based on political goals or based on cultural shifts, I think.
I don't know if policy people really do outnumber culture people- I think that “PARENTS! STOP MAKING EXCUSES FOR PEOPLE WHO MURDER THEIR KIDS!” is a push for a cultural shift, and pretty much every neurodiversity activist I know says something along those lines. I think most of us do some of both, though how much of each we do varies individually. ASAN, the organization, is definitely focused on policy stuff, though the first publication out of their press, Loud Hands: Autistic People Speaking, is quite clearly cultural. [The college handbook is harder to classify, and their latest publication seems like a how-to guide for the political direction from what I've heard. I'll know soon, since I seem to be getting a copy thanks to having been at Autism Campus Inclusion.]
I really hope the writer has some academicy definition of absurdity, because otherwise “the absurdity of short-term political battles” is a really icky thing to say. It's not absurd in the sense that most people use the word, and their statement about it being important just a sentence before suggests they don't think so either. So I'm not sure what they mean, and I'm pretty sure it's not the only meaning of the word that I know.
The description of Camus and Sarte goes right over my head. See "possibly conflicting access needs."
This paragraph I understand:
The debate above is really about how to negotiate political opportunity. Legislative activism uses political opportunity to better current conditions, this is important, but if we get too locked into our historical "situation" we'll forget that it functions as a moment for a more permanent change in thinking.
I think the idea is that legislation is an opportunity to make legal requirements of what people have to do, but that we can't ignore the context of culture because we need to change how people think, too. It's true. Without changes in how people think, there are risks of people undoing the policy changes over time- I think that may be part of what is happening in the arena of reproductive rights. Where those rights are under the worst direct attacks, people seem to have ideas of women [the people making these attacks generally do not understand, do not want to understand, the idea that a transman could become pregnant or that a transwoman can't or that some nonbinary people can, or really the idea that such people exist, so they don't think about them as anything but horrible] belong in the home having and raising children, and should be punished for enjoying sex. Since the sexist thought is still there, people are trying to undo the policy changes that gave greater choices. It's the same issue where places not bound by the ADA are rarely accessible, and even those who are bound often do not do the work required to become accessible, seeking some sort of exemption.
Policy is not difficult to alter.
Compared to what? Oftentimes, it requires changing people's thought, first. Not everybody's thinking, but certain people. People with power.
Western thought is much more difficult to change and requires more effort from more of us, but with Camus, I hold that political history does not always have to take precedence but can sometimes fall to the wayside as we do the work of scholars to change the ideas that motivate other thinkers.
Western thought is not a monolith. It can't be, if all the people referenced are Western thinkers. Dividing the world into East and West [and where is Africa, might I ask? Where is Australia? Indiginous people for the Americas fit where, exactly? And are we remembering that none of those groups or places are monoliths either, though there will likely be some common assumptions] isn't going to work any better than dividing autistic people into high and low functioning, for example. People are complicated.
I don't think political stuff needs to take precedence, but I also do not think it should fall to the wayside. I think that we need to pay attention to politics, and to culture, and to the ways the two interact. Having different people focusing on different things, though, that is more than reasonable. That's important. No one person can be expected to do all the things. [Practical application: I can't do all jargon. I can only do some jargon.]
It looks like I might want to read Foucault, actually, or at least a translation using comparatively simple language.
They argue that it is in acedeme where we will make our changes, and it will be- already is- an important place. But it's not in academe alone where it will happen- too many people avoid the academy, and too much of this country is anti-intellectual. (Remember how people talked about Obama doing super-well in Harvard Law like it was a bad thing?) But academia will be important, because schools are part of what needs changing to reach equality, and schools are run by members of the academy.
It's complicated, as always, and we need multiple kinds of people, as always. Funny how diversity is what we need to make activist movements work, isn't it?


  1. I think that author is saying that political victories and policy gains made by Ari and ASAN are short term and will be of no long term significance if there is not a massive change in cultural and academic perception of autism and disability.

    ASAN's work creates an opportunity to bring to the forefront debates and discussions in public that can, over time bring about this change. This will be difficult, especially in our "Western society" which deems a disabled life as a useless life.

    (I believe the author is using the term "Western Society" as a metaphor to describe the philosophies of meritocracy and capitalism which certainly dominate the United States and are prevalent throughout most first world democracies)

    ASAN's work is important and great. But the policy and legislative change they create is only a small step on the path to where we need to be. It is not the complete victory by a long shot.

    Autistic life will be saved if, for example ASAN succeeds in getting the murder of Alex Spourdalakis tried as a federal hate crime. Life will be saved because a bad parent seeing their autistic child's life of low worth decides not to harm or kill the child because they could possibly be put to death by a court of law if found guilty of the crime.

    That is a big improvement over the present situation of "If I kill my autistic child the national media and thousands of other parents will be sympathetic, and I will probably receive a minimal jail sentence if one at all".

    However, while policy can save the life of an autistic child in this situation, and that's a good thing, there is still a huge problem. The problem being that the autistic person is saved not because he is seen as being as equal to other people, but because the potential killer does not want to face the legal consequence for killing him. He is not seen as having worth, rather as a burden that legislation forces society to carry, and will be treated as such throughout his or her life. An autistic person may be saved from non accepting parents by legislature, but this person will no doubt face abuse and discrimination by other facets of society until our society changes its attitude towards it.

    That type of change cannot be legislated, rather it must become part of our society by free thought, and can be placed there by the scholars, writers, thinkers and philosophers who communicate neurodiversity.

    1. If you're right, then Anonymous Newtown Autistic and I agree on more than I thought we did, in terms of what needs doing.
      (I basically think that we need both, it's just fine to have different people concentrating on each.)

  2. this is a good post, but there's one issue of vocab - the general consensus is that when referring to trans people as a whole that there's a space after trans.

    (saying this as an autistic trans person too, i guess it's kinda like "autismperson" rather than "autistic person". trans is certainly an important part of identity but it's not the only bit which the space helps show)


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