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

Monday, August 26, 2013

Queer Autistic Voice

I wrote a paper for the INSPIRe Virtual Symposium: The Erasure of Queer Autistic People. Initially I'd started writing it for Debilitating Queerness, where I presented it as a work in progress, and some of my thoughts from it came up again at the Society for Disability Studies conference, but INSPIRe is the one I'm actually finishing for. [I'm also submitting it to Criptiques, since I think it's relevant. Given that they're "exploring themes of identity, sexuality, disability/crip culture, and ableism" (Wood) I suspect they will find a disability/sexuality identity-based writing decision interesting.]
I'm breaking some of the rules of academic writing in it. Academic authors are expected to write in a certain distanced tone. It's very different from how I write on my blog- "I" statements are pretty rare, and there's this idea that the author is distant and impartial. I'm keeping academic formatting and academic citations, but this note (a word or two might change between now and then, but basically this note) will be at the top, explaining the "rules" I break.
Writing this, I realized: Why do I feel the need, writing academically, to distance myself from my identities? Why is this expected in academia? So I won't do so. I say “we,” not “they” for groups I am a member of. I will not the feign distanced impartiality of an outside observer: it would be erasing my own Queer Autistic voice to do so.
Why do I feel this need, writing academically, that I don't feel here on my blog, even on blog posts that cite things in academic fashion? In disability rights, disclosing relationships to disability is expected, while in disability studies, it is skirted around (O'Toole 2013) and perhaps it is that my blog fits more into disability rights than my more academic work getting submitted to INSPIRe does? Is the desire to cling to an academically neutral stance and the (perhaps incorrect) assumption people make that this is necessary to be taken seriously in the academy (O'Toole 2013) part of the story?
O'Toole suggests that we publicly identify our relationships to disability, but for that, my note at the top could simply say, "The author is Disabled." Since the paper is about the intersection of Queerness and Autism, it would perhaps be better to say, "The author is a Queer Autistic person." That's not what I did.
I decided to change pronouns from the distanced academic they/theirs/them to the personal we/ours/us every time I am a member of the group being referred to, reminding readers consistently that I am not neutral; I am one of the Queer Autistic people whose erasure I write about. I tell them that to do otherwise would erase a Queer Autistic voice: mine.
I may make it "identity and voice" rather than just "voice." I'm not sure. But voice is important. It has to stay. "If no one ever acknowledges that we have a voice, we can forget how to use it. We might even decide not to" (Bascom 9.) That is why voice is important- if my voice is not used, it is all to easy to erase me from my own stories, and if no one admits we have voices, we might not use them. I have a voice. I will use it to tell my story, and I will use it to make sure the stories of those like me are heard.

Works Cited
Bascom, Julia. "Foreward." Foreword. Loud Hands: Autistic People, Speaking. Washington, DC: Autistic, 2012. 6-11. Print.
O'Toole, Corbett J. "Disclosing Our Relationships to Disabilities: An Invitation for Disability Studies Scholars." Disability Studies Quarterly 33.2 (2013). Web. 23 Aug. 2013.
Wood, Caitlin. "Criptiques." Kickstarter. Kickstarter, Inc., 13 Aug. 2013. Web. 23 Aug. 2013.


  1. I am thrilled to be included on your blog. Especially on this our birthdays week. Thank you for pushing my thinking.

  2. Yep!

    I've never written an academic paper in disability studies, though I would like to expand this post into an article someday. (Need to do way more research and round up more examples, though.)

    Part of the reason I've been putting it off is that I'm not sure about the style --- like you, I use a lot of "I-statements" on my blog, and use "we" to talk about autistic, developmentally disabled, or whatever-other-category-I-belong-to people, and I draw on personal experience. All of these things I was taught not to do in college!

    (I am thinking especially of my science classes, where I took great care to write lab reports without using any first-person pronouns. I was also encouraged to write "objectively" in my literature classes, but there was more leeway there, it seemed.)


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