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 16, 2013

Strangely "More Severe"

This may be the silliest reason to assume a person "more severe" that I have heard yet. Possibly. When "nonspeaking" is used, it's at least referring to an actual autistic trait, and it's one where "nonspeaking" is having that one trait to a greater extent than "selectively mute" is. Most of the ones I see are like that: It's assuming that one specific trait is a reasonable judge of overall severity, which is patently ridiculous, but there is at least an autistic trait in the reasoning somewhere. Or there's a trait of some other disability that the person also has, which isn't autism but it's still based on a disability. That doesn't make these reasons any more accurate, but I can at least see where they come from.
This one, not so much.
Lydia Brown (Autistic Hoya) and I know each other offline. We've known each other for longer than I've been involved with disability stuff, and significantly so. We met at MIT's Splash program in *insert year here, I think Lydia knows.* I don't remember the exact details of how it went, but either she informed me I was autistic or asked me if was aware that I was autistic. I was in one of my "in denial" times, so of course I was not going with "yeah I'm super-duper autistic!"
Anyways, Lydia either tells me or asks me if I'm already aware, then (nonphysically, nonliterally) drags me to lunch with her.
I told someone this story of how I met Lydia. They said, "So, she's more severe than you?"
I don't even know how they got to that conclusion. I said something along the lines of, "There's not really a more severe/less severe strict scale, there's a pile of different traits that come in varying levels and the level of impairment that the traits cause aren't always directly related to the extent that the traits are there and is super-situational. There's often more/less obviously autistic, and there's more/less support needs for any given environment, and sometimes you can come up with an overall more support needs between two people but not always and I'm pretty sure Lydia and I are not a pair where you could do that."
Because yeah, Amy Sequenzia has overall more support needs than I do, for example. So do most five year olds, because, well, they're five. But... coming up with an overall more support needs between Lydia and me? Super-duper situational. I'm going to go with she's better at public speaking, and I'm more able to go to concerts, and we're similarly disorganized due to EF issues though I've had more time to learn to get stuff done anyways without all-nighters thanks to various situational stuff including being a year older.
But that's not really the point, is it? The point is that "This person went up to another person and informed them they were autistic pretty much out of the blue" isn't actually a statement of severity. It requires that the person doing so have some sense of how to tell if another person is autistic or not, and it requires that the autistic person they're finding show at least some traits. You could actually imply that it means I'm more severe if you really wanted to, because I have to be obvious enough for her to notice. But that doesn't actually make sense either because it's different traits that are required for different things going on here.
And I thought it was funny that someone would conclude Lydia was "more severe" based on her being the first not-me person to tell me I'm autistic. That's the big reason I'm writing this, really.
And yes, Lydia said I could write this and use her name/link to her. She also laughed a lot because it is silly.
Also, I've written more serious stuff about functioning labels being fail before, and so have other people. More times than I can link to.


  1. That's strange.

    Someone who knows they are autistic recognizes similar traits in someone else? TOTALLY equates to this very scientifically and logically defined scale of autism. The real question is how many more autistic units? You have to quantify it, don't you?

    (This is an attempt at sarcasm/humor. If it is strange or offensive or whatnot, don't publish it (and let me know what I did wrong please so I can avoid that mistake again).) Or of course, if it is just not-funny.

      ... Using a very scientifically and logically defined scale of hilariousness.
      (Yes, that second line is a joke.)

  2. Kind of responding late, but my guess is the person made that silly assumption because they thought like this:

    1. less social awareness = more severely autistic
    2. it is rude to assume someone has a diagnosis
    3. well-meaning rudeness = less social awareness

    Q.E.D. Lydia said something rude to Alyssa, therefore Lydia is more severely autistic.

    Which, of course, is ridiculous. Because it wasn't rude (maybe in NT-land it's rude, but in our culture it's no biggie) and it was very socially aware of her to notice it, comment on it, and befriend you.

    But that's probably the logic train that derailed on that person.


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.