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, November 8, 2013

Handwriting: Not for everyone

So I pulled up some old notes from my iPad about NCIE over the summer. Specifically, I pulled up some notes from a session about Universal Design for Learning, which is a cool thing. People should be doing more of it. It's important. Not everyone learns the same way, and making sure everyone has at least some things they can do to learn (and that it's OK not to be able to do all the things) is a Big Deal.

Warning for school stuff and ignoring/invalidating access needs

So here's relevancy from there in case you didn't feel like looking at the notes.
"I want all students to write because that's what gets assessed on those horrible tests." NO. You want to change those tests. I'm sorry, no, you're talking about universal access, do it for real. Handwritten thank you notes can be an access thing. Not everyone can learn to handwrite. It's just not possible.
I don't honestly remember if the person giving the presentation said this, or if another person in the presentation said this, or if it was getting criticized. Just so everyone is clear, I have no clue 
who I am criticizing. Which means I'm criticizing the sentence "I want all students to write because that's what gets assessed on those horrible tests," and that's really it. Well, I'm doing it talking about universal access, since I'm doing it in the context of a presentation about universal design, and I'm going to be talking about disability, but there's no person attached to these words.

"I want all students to write." From the context I have, the meaning was "hand write." This actually is a problem. I know, there will be people who bemoan the "death" of handwriting, but a lot of the people who are now not hand writing at all are people who couldn't have done it legibly before. So all that's changing is the thing being complained about: illegibility or the decision to do something other than writing by hand. Wanting all students to be able to write by hand is already not being universally accessible. Some students can't do it because of CP. Some students can't do it because of other motor issues, like not being able to hold a pencil/pen properly, dysgraphia, etc. Some students can learn to do it properly, but it's so much effort to hold the pencil or pen properly that they can't also come up with new and creative words at the same time. Some can write without pain, but if you think anyone's going to be able to read what they wrote after... yeah, that's not going to happen. That's where I am, by the way. I got banned from handwriting my math homework a couple times, because my teachers couldn't read my handwriting. I can't always read my handwriting, honestly. If you want to see what it looks like, here. This is the typed up version.

So there's where I'm coming from as the main reason it's bad. I don't much care why you're trying to make everyone do a thing that not everyone is capable of. Not sorry, I don't care. Don't force the kid to do a thing the kid can't do. Go advocate for accommodations on "those horrible tests." And yes, the tests are bad. I did well with them because I read fast and can bubble things in and can use the test to take the test in many cases, but that doesn't make them good. It just means that they lined up pretty well with my specific set of abilities. Universal design means making sure enough of the tests line up with the students abilities that they can show what they know and pass. Don't break your moral of universal access because someone else doesn't get it. Go demand accommodations. The ADA is your friend here.

Someone must have mentioned handwritten thank you notes. I had to do those after my Bat Mitzvah. It was not fun, largely because it had to be legible. Ha. My handwriting. Legible. That is not a thing that happens, so it took obnoxiously long and it actually got painful because trying to make it legible does start hurting after a while. If typing thank you notes is an access need, you type those thank you notes. If a word processor not connected to the internet (heck, a text editor with no spell check on a computer not connected to the internet) is what you need to use for your essay questions because it's an access need, it's what you do. It's the ADA and IDEA and whatever else, you sue people if they try to tell you that's not a reasonable accommodation. It is. Yes, try to teach writing by hand because it's useful, but if a kid can't do it, accept that. Seriously.


  1. I was going to comment on this... And then I realised my comment was going to be ridiculously long and rambling, so I went and wrote a blog post about it. But basically, this is a great and thought-provoking post and I really enjoyed reading it. I agree that the emphasis on handwriting is really unnecessary in today's digital age, but I think that kids who are *able* to handwrite in these situations, who find it very hard to handwrite should also be allowed to use word-processors. However, of course that isn't going to work unless they have a diagnosable disability.

  2. Yes, exactly.

    Because I had undiagnosed dysgraphia (I can either write mostly-legibly-but-not-neatly or I can write quickly, but not both, and you don't want to even think about asking me to write cursive because what results is a vaguely writing-like scribble... unless I go so slow it takes me 5 minutes to write a single sentence and by the time I'm done I forget what I wanted to write), my English schooling was held hostage to my handwriting for 6 freaking years. In grade 9, I had no idea what a subject is or how to write a coherent paragraph, let alone why you structure an essay as introduction-body-conclusion.

    That shouldn't happen, ever.


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