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

Friday, August 9, 2013

Response to #Anarchism and #Neurodiversity

Trigger Warning: Police Brutality, Ableism, Bullying, Pathologization

Today (the “as I write this” today, not the “when this gets published” today,) I am responding to a piece in Slingshot. Yes, Slingshot is an anarchist publication. No, I don't think I'm an anarchist. Even if I'm not an anarchist, I can still look at anarchist writing with my neurodiversity paradigm eyes and see what thoughts I think. That's what I'm up to.
Anarchism and Neurodiversity,” by Zane Bolonga. That's the one I'm looking at right now. I think it gets a line by line response, since this is a kind of important concept.
The concept of neurodiversity is largely unknown within the anarchist community, or any community, for that matter.”
Unfortunately true. I suspect this article is meant to help change that for the anarchist community, which I totally approve of. I can think of some common interests anarchists and neurodiversity activists could have, and we don't need to agree on everything to work together on those.
Neurodiversity is the idea that people with neurological differences should be recognized as equals to neurotypicals, or those who are considered neurologically “normal.”
Reasonable. I prefer Nick Walker's listing of how the neurodiversity paradigm is defined, but this one is OK. There are some things I'd say aren't quite right, but I don't think the errors are ones that are particularly damaging. And, well, it's not as if I think I could do better defining anarchism in a sentence.
Neurodiversity refers to a scientific fact, a paradigm, and a movement. The fact is that brains are not all wired the same. The paradigm is about how the fact should be viewed: as a form of human diversity that has privilege and oppression dynamics much like many other forms of diversity. In our case, neurotypical refers to those who are close enough to the alleged/socially constructed norm to get privilege from it. The movement is basically about spreading the paradigm and applying it to life stuff, so far as I can tell. Part of the problem is that it doesn't all really fit in one sentence.
Police brutality is a huge problem facing the neurdiverse.
Picky language moment of I don't think “the neurodiverse” is a good way to refer to neurominorities/neurodivergent people as a group. It's calling people diverse only if they are in the minority or disprivileged group, which reinforces the idea of the dominant group as normal. (Better that than calling us people with neurodiversity, which is really gross and yes that happened.)
But yes. Police brutality is a huge problem facing neurodivergent people. Police tasered an autistic 11 year old girl. Security killeda man with Down's and I don't think they're even facing charges, though it was ruled a homicide at least.
Instances like the death of Kelly Thomas, a homeless schizophrenic man who was beaten to death by police in Fullerton, California, sadly aren't that rare.
No. They aren't. Also, ouch, hadn't known about his specific case.
I personally have faced such discrimination on a (much) smaller scale, having been harassed by police who think my nervous tics and sometimes odd behavior are “suspicious seeming.”
You're not alone. Lydia wrote about being presumed drunk at the subway. I don't know if An Anonymous Newtown Autistic has written about stuff that happened specifically to him in this area, but I'd bet that it has. I mostly just get treated like I'm a little kid when I'm acting weird- I think the fact that I am white and read as female has a lot to do with that. (Actually androgyne, FYI.)
Society's attitudes towards the neurodiverse are just as badly misinformed and negative.
Yeah, that. (towards neurominorities? Towards neurodivergent people?) Among other things, society seems to think we're more likely to be violent or abusive. Statistically speaking, neurominorities are less likely to be violent, and we are significantly more likely to be the victims of violence, bullying, abuse, sexual abuse, etc.
There have been a multitude of incidents of bullying towards the neurodiverse, especially common with schizophrenics.
I wonder what the language preference is for folks who actually have schizophrenia. I should ask someone who does, but if I know anyone who does I don't know who they are. Also, yeah, lots. I was bullied. Henry Frost gets bullied by his teachers. Not by students, by teachers. ONLY BY TEACHERS. Neurodivergent K wasbullied.
On top of experiencing bullying, many schizophrenics are homeless due to the lack of services this post-Reagan regime provides.
Somehow I suspect it's more complicated than that, since those homes have historically tended to be “locked in an institution,” and the services have tended to be getting forcibly medicated and restrained. Medication is fine. Medication can be great. It's also something that the person taking it needs to have an informed say in, and where “I don't want this, we should try something else” gets listened to. There's a lot of medications out there that can help, and people need to be able to choose the one that works best for them if they really do want/need medication. That doesn't make the current lack of services OK. It just means that what there was before isn't actually OK either. Real services, noncoercive ones with enough safety that a person who knows they have a problem they need help with would find seeking services to be in their own best interests, are what we need. (The loss of rights with entering a lot of institutional settings means it's often not in our own best interests to enter the system.)
Being both homeless and schizophrenic puts these individuals in double jeopardy; they are seen as wandering goons.
No arguments there. People are often so afraid of homeless people because of the assumption that they are mentally ill and therefore potentially violent. Which is made of ableism and classism.
The rates of bullying for those with Autism Spectrum Disorders are also very high.
AUGH. Pathology pathology pathology. The very name for use being used here is made of pathology. (I'd take “person with autism” over this, and as you know if you read my blog regularly, you should nevercall me a person with autism. Ever. I'm Autistic. Some people prefer person with autism, but within the neurodiversity movement, A/autistic are the majority by far. If you're courting the neurodiversity movement, use identity-first for autism.)
Now that that's taken care of: Yeah. The three examples of bullying I gave before are all for Autistic people. I've not met a single Autistic person who went to a public school and wasn't bullied. I assume they exist, but I don't know of any, and I don't think the people I know do either.
Harmless stymieing and narrow interests make this society angry towards the neurodiverse.
I think spellcheck turned “stimming” to “stymieing,” since Open Office gives me the little red squiggle under stimming but not under stymieing. The two examples given suggest that this sentence is really about Autistic people, so I'd suggest saying “towards Autistic people.” Other neurominorities get in trouble for other things, though stimming is on the list for a few others.
Negative attitudes towards the neurodiverse stem from an oppressive mindset.
Well, yeah. That's how oppression works.
Capitalism has taught us all that those who can't produce profit have no inherent worth whatsoever.
I don't think capitalism did it alone, but capitalism had a pretty big role there. Puritan ideals of working all the time had something to do with it too, I suspect, and with capitalism. A lot of things are interrelated here.
Since capitalism and class society itself is incapable of seeing the forest for the trees, those with a different mindset from Neurotypical people are not a demographic that can be sold to, and sometimes our neuroses make us harder to hire.
I'm not entirely sure what the issues mentioned here have to do with seeing the forest for the trees? Also, why do we think that neurominorities can't be sold to? Sure we can. Doesn't make the system any less broken, but yeah, we can be sold to. Just need to sell different things. Sensory-friendly food can be expensive. (Is different mindset an implication that those going along with mainstream culture must all be neurotypical? It's not true- lots of mainstream folk are neurodivergent, and plenty of radicals are neurotypical.)
Our neurological differences can lead to discrimination against us in hiring. Ableism is to blame for that bit. Cognitive accessibility and accessibility of physical spaces are both issues, and plenty of employers aren't willing to take the time to make things accessible. Or they don't want us, since they're scared of us/think we might be violent.
Instead of getting the help we need from our government, we are instead forced to live on the streets or in an oppressive home where we will be treated like farm animals.
Yeah, that's not OK. At all. Amanda Baggs has written some stuff about institutions that is really important. I think my response is to linkto it.
It's time for the neurodiverse, from the homeless schizophrenic man to the Star Trek loving Aspie Womyn to the surgeon with Tourette's syndrome, to realize that statism and capitalism produce hierarchies that are inherently operating against them.
I don't think that it's news to any of the people mentioned that there are hierarchies acting against them because of neurodivergence. Aspie tends to be an elitist term used by folks who want to distance themselves from the plain old autistic people, but not always, so I'm a little worried that ableism could come in there. Aspie elitism kills.
Kind of suspicious of anyone who thinks they have one source for all the -isms, because it tends to lead to people going “but that's not the real problem” when asked to confront the “symptom” -isms. Taking down one hierarchical system doesn't remove the hierarchies it created, after all, so those do need dealt with.
It's time for the Neurodiverse to get prepared to bash back against bigots and goons.
Um, what did you think the neurdiversity movement and the disability rights movement (at least, certain parts of it for certain neurodivergent members) have been doing this whole time?
It's time for all people who don't fit the upper-class, straight, neurotypical WASP mold (and them too if they want to join us) to rise up and create a better world for us all.
Nice goal. Do make sure to avoid the issue of people being told they are divisive for calling it out when other members of the movement are being oppressive in various ways. Acting oppressive is divisive. Defending oneself from oppression shouldn't be considered so. You didn't say that you were going to make that error, but it's common enough that I wanted to make sure.
We could start by trying to educate the masses about the neurodiverse, and how they are capable of living lives as good as anyone else.
Again, what do you think we've been doing this whole time? Help from another misunderstood community is great; just realize that we've been doing this and do have a pretty good idea of what we're doing.
The situation with police can only be solved like we've always known: direct action!
Direct action is great. Just remember that not everyone is capable of participating and that there are other things people can do. There are other things that can have effects. Educational efforts, including resource creating, can have effects. Direct action is one way. It's not the only way.
Together we can all make this world a nicer place for everyone.
I can go with that. Just don't do any of the problem things that wind up excluding groups and then blaming the group members for divisiveness when they defend themselves. That's kind of the opposite of what you said you wanted to do.


  1. This is a good breakdown. I agree with you that capitalism isn't the root problem, if there even IS a root problem that explains all oppressions--I do not like Marxist interpretations of oppression like that (it's too simplistic).

  2. "Kind of suspicious of anyone who thinks they have one source for all the -isms..."

    I think a lot of groups do this - 'follow us and all other problems will magically be solved!'

    It reminds me of the Abolitionist vegan movement:

    Not that it's bad to try to solve all problems at once, but some problems need a bit more time and care to get to the root. Ideally, everyone would be working on all of them equally and then come together, but not many people have time for that sort of diversification.

  3. I promise that this is in fact me, to start with.

    I actually rather enjoyed your breakdown, and I definitely feel like you made some valid critiques. I honestly am not very good with politically correct language and thus try to be as polite as possible.

    The issue is rather complex, but I still feel that its main issues come from a capitalistic mindset and an intense belief in "usefulness"

  4. Hi Zane!
    I think there are definitely interconnectednesses of it, and yeah, taking down the intense need for usefulness is kind of needed with disability stuff. I'd totally be game to talk about this more with you, because, well, I think there are a lot of good connections to make there.


I reserve the right to delete comments for personal attacks, derailing, dangerous comparisons, bigotry, and generally not wanting my blog to be a platform for certain things.