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 http://yesthattoo.blogspot.com/post-specific-URL.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Autistics Speaking Day 2013

Warning: References to Ableism (super-vague)

Oh hey, it's November 1, Autistics Speaking Day. I'm Autistic. I don't always say words with my mouth, but I communicate, and that's the version of “speaking” I'm using. I've got two main ideas for what to talk about: I've got an autistic character planned for my NaNoWriMo novel(s) who types “I was able to say words. That turned out not to be the same thing as speaking” about a potion that let her... say words. The idea was to let her talk. It's a fantasy novel. I've also got the speaking I do in my daily life, educating people by way of being the autistic adult that they actually know of. The way diagnosis looks in China, there aren't exactly a lot of autistic college students who know they're autistic here. That's not to say there's no autistic students: I think that one of my classmates in graph theory might be autistic. But there's not really people my age who know they're autistic, or there's not a lot of us and we're mostly not in colleges.

First off, offline stuff. I'm out as autistic to my Chinese language teachers, my Academic Director, my Residence Director, all my classmates for my language classes, my roommate, and a couple people in my materials science class. My roommate knew pretty much nothing about autism when I met her, and then I told her that I'm Autistic, and then I lent her Loud Hands because she wanted a book that was in fairly simple language but wasn't meant for young kids. So that's a way of having several Autistic people speaking to her about autism from across the ocean. That was pretty cool.

There's also been conversations with my Academic Director. Some have been really productive. Like this one. It was in Chinese, like basically all our conversations, but here's approximately what was said. She is Zhu Laoshi, I'm me.

Zhu Laoshi: So are you interested in visiting one of the schools for autistic kids while you're here? I could go with you.

Me: Uh, maybe? I'm a wee bit scared, though.

Zhu Laoshi: They learned a lot of stuff from American NGO's.

Me: Yeah, that's what scares me.

Zhu Laoshi: Why?

Me: Because the biggest autism related organization in the USA is really bad.

Zhu Laoshi: Have you told them what their problems are?

Me: Yup. So have a ton of autistic adults. One of the problems is that they don't listen to autistic people.

Zhu Laoshi: That would make it hard, yes. [Conversation continues, but that was the bit I wanted to share.]

Or I explained both a problem I have [I don't always realize I'm cold] and how I handle it [I get goosebumps normally, so I check for those instead of checking to see if I feel cold.] That happened with a classmate for materials science, after which I explained that no, autism does not always mean incapable of oral speech. That's just one of many autistic things, and not all of us have that specific one. Selective mutism, learning to talk later, and word choice differences are all possibilities, and yes, one person can have all those things at once. Not me, I talked super-early, but it's possible.

Now for NaNoWriMo. That's National Novel Writing Month. I'm Autistic. I'm writing fantasy, and I'm including multiple disabled characters including multiple autistic characters. Not that they have the word “autistic,” but people reading in the modern day are meant to read these characters as autistic. One is non-speaking. She designed her own AAC device- it's based in magic, because fantasy, and she spent a really long time studying magical theory in order to design it. After spending similarly long studying to try to make a potion that would let her talk. It sort of worked, but not entirely- the potion that she came up with would let a person who just has physical issues with speech, but if there's also a disconnect between the languaging and the mouth-making-words, the potion doesn't fix that.

And yes, her dealing with ableism is a major part of the plot. Like, the decisions she makes, often in response to people being horrible in various ways, are probably the biggest factor in driving her story arc. Yes, I'm writing a non-speaking autistic character with agency into a fantasy story, and yes, she's got some magic, but it's not because of her being autistic and people missed her magic for a while because she's autistic. I'm not entirely sure about how organizing the bits of story will go and I won't know until I'm well into writing, so I'm not sure exactly when you first meet her, but she's important. And pretty cool. If she were real instead of being a product of my imagination, she would write an awesome post for ASDay. But she's a product of my imagination, so I talked about her a bit instead. Woo autistic people being in fiction. I seem to do this a decent bit- started a series of Young Wizards fics following a non-speaking Autistic character while trying to keep myself away from my NaNoWriMo story until November started. Because being reflected in stories is important. It really is.

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