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, October 14, 2013

Adventures in Explaining to People who Know They Don't Know

These are the best adventures in explaining, really. Not joking. People who think they know how things work will argue with basically everything I say, which makes it so much harder. It's especially harder if I'm still partially shut down, which totally happens. I was still in partial shutdown when I explained what happened at the museum, actually, but because no one was going "that can't be!" and "autism doesn't work like that!" at me as I tried to explain what happened, I was still able to mostly do it.
So what happened starts with sensory overload. This should not be surprising to anyone who knows me well, since my sensory processing issues are the most annoying issues I've got. I'm pretty much OK with the language issues as long as I'm allowed to write or type.
See, the museum was mostly marble, which reflects sound quite effectively. This led to a major case of The Sads, because it was loud and I couldn't really understand what the teachers were saying to me over it.
At least, I think that was how it started being bad. I got a vague sense of something not right when we were on the second floor (we started from the bottom and were working our way up.) On the third floor, the entrance to the exhibit hall had sounds that were bad, and I'm pretty sure that's how speech went kaput. Definitely a sensory overload issue. Then I hit the point where it took concentration to read the English captions on the art and artifacts, which, um, that's a bad sign. I'm pretty sure it's a bad sign when someone who lives by the written word as much as I do finds reading to no longer be automatic. I guess my body language was making it pretty clear that I was in distress (hi what is knowing what my body language means to neurotypicals I have no clue) so one of the teachers asked me if I was OK. I flapped for a bit trying to get words, then pulled out my notebook and started writing once I figured out that speech was not happening. Meh. Figuring out that speech is not happening is useful, because it means I can start writing instead, but it's kind of frustrating too, because I can talk faster than I can write.
I let her know that I was overloaded as best I could. [I don't know how to write all the relevant words in Chinese. I should fix that.] And then I went home and crashed. A few hours later, I had a meeting with the academic director, who had also been at the museum with us. She knew that I'd had a problem and left, but not entirely why. So she wanted to talk to me a bit about that in addition to the official reason for the meeting, which was about an independent study.
Yeah. So "I'm not always aware that I'm overloaded until I try to talk and discover that I can't" is one of those statements where I expect to get challenged. It's true, but I expect to get challenged, because it's not something people tend to understand. She asked a couple questions to try to understand, but there's a difference between "I don't believe you" questions and "I'm a bit confused, can you explain?" questions. Her questions were quite firmy in the second type, which tends to bring out the infodumps. It's hard to explain exactly how my body awareness (and emotion awareness) issues work, but I can toss out examples. I think the two issues are related, and I told her that too. The response to my saying I think the problems are related was that she thinks that makes sense. Really. This is a reaction I can work with. It's not the reaction I expected (I expect the worst,) but I'm glad that it's not. Flagship has been pretty consistently doing better than I expected of them as far as autism stuff goes.
Of course, it probably helps that I didn't explain much until after they'd already paid for the plane tickets and tuition and such. The longer you wait, the harder it is to discriminate based on disability without making it obvious that that's what you're doing. It's also harder to accommodate properly, so it's a trade-off. But they're actually doing a really good job at the whole accommodating thing. I'm seriously impressed.

1 comment:

  1. Tom here. I'm rolling off of your shutdown experience, not the explaining.

    I was dancing with this chick, losing the steps and beat, then closing my eyes to find the beat and steps. Was doing semi-Ok, but when I checked on things outside, this chick started doing this vamp strut and stare like a female predator in time to the music. I was thinking, "Ok, weirdly cool, not sure I can deal with this now" and closed my eyes again. When I reopened them, she was still doing it, staring at me. I originally saw her as very attractive, but the second time I opened my eyes she seemed to be more drop-dead-gorgeous--not sure how that happened. Anyway, the changing stim from her strut and stare pulled me out of my beat/step-counting and I started really dancing, kind of a male predator version of her dance. That was pretty freaky, so maybe changing the stim can pull us out of shutdown. Somehow my dance partner knew I was in partial shut down (she and I were strangers really) and pulled me out of it. It would be cool if normals were aware of their power to do that.

    I was analyzing how the stim changed. Music was the same. Dance steps were the same. Lighting was the same. My dance partner challenged my ego, so my ego was stimmed. Her predatory dancing stimmed my libido. Something about stim to the ego and libido pulled me out, maybe?

    Any thoughts?


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