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

Monday, November 18, 2013

This is autism

I've actually talked about this sort of thing before. On Tumblr, I have a "This is what autism looks like" post from about a year and a half ago. I'll be reblogging myself to get it out there again. I've written some poems that are relevant, too. They're copied and pasted at the end of this.


What is autism?
It's always a person or a group of people. There is no autism detached from the person- there's no way to split off "this is the autism and this is the person." Any metaphor that tries is going to be a bad metaphor. So I'm not going to do that.
It's also probably a lot of different things, because seriously this isn't specific. There were a lot of ways to meet criteria in DSM-IV-TR. There were 3129 different ways before getting into single criteria that can be met in different ways and known traits that aren't on the DSM list.
Even when the core bits are the same, presentation isn't always going to be the same. It might not even be all that similar.
Autism is better understood as a foundation everything else gets built on (kind of like a neurotypical makeup is a foundation that a neurotypical person's mind/personality is getting built on) than as... probably most of the things I've seen it understood as. Environment and experiences and such are going to affect what happens from there, just like with neurotypical folks (and with allistic folk who aren't neurotypical.)
So what's autism?
It's all the A/autistic people and the people with autism and the undiagnosed who think they're just broken or wrong and the undiagnosed who've gotten along OK. It's all the people whose minds and thoughts and experiences are built and reacted to using an autistic foundation instead of one that's close enough to "average" or "normal" to get called neurotypical.
Autism is people. It's not an outside force stealing them away. It's people, right around 1% of people.

Now have the poems woot.


I stand in front of you.
I tell you exactly who I am.
I am a college student,
And I am Autistic.

And yet, and yet, and yet you assume,
I must be a parent,
I must be writing about my child,
An anniversary of diagnosis must be for my child.
No, it's for me.
An anniversary of diagnosis must bring back sadness.
No, it is a victory for understanding and hope.
An anniversary of diagnosis is a difficult day.
No, I want a cake. (Or ice cream. Ice cream is good.)
An anniversary of diagnosis is a day to reflect.
That much, at least, is true.
But what to reflect on, what to think?
Autism: 0, You: 1?
This is not zero-sum
Defeating autism?
We're not separate.
Remembering that my child (what child? I have no child yet) is still my child?
How could I forget that?
How could a different neurology cause anyone to forget that?

Autism Is

Autism is a word for the ways I will never, can never be normal.
It is also the word for "why this doesn't bother me."
Autism makes me a foreigner in my own country.
It also protects me from culture shock, as I am accustomed to being "other."
Autism makes it harder for me to find friends.
It also keeps false friends away.
Autism makes it harder to take notes in class.
It also means I don't need to.
Autism makes mint, strobes, sirens painful.
It also allows me to stim.
Autism makes oral speech less natural to me.
It also provides my abundance of words.
Autism means challenges.
It also means solutions, if only I am allowed to use them.


  1. Alyssa, I'm just wondering if there are any non-profit or government based agencies in China that resembles agencies such as the "Regional Center" in the U.S. I understand the social welfare in China is still developing. I also want to find out if China has laws and regulations enforcing equal treatment of autistic students in classrooms. Are there laws that mandates the enrollment of autistic students?

  2. Hi Anon!
    I don't know as much as I'd like to about autism-specific stuff. I know that for disability in general, there's the 中国残疾人联合会 (Chinese Disabled Persons Federation is the English translation) and that disability doesn't exclude you from being required to go to school for the same years as everyone else.
    Unfortunately, that doesn't always mean people actually go to school. There've been reports of autistic kids getting kicked out of mainstream classes and such, and there's definitely a sense that having an autistic student in the class will hurt the education of the other kids, meaning there have also been parents trying to get their kids autistic classmates kicked out.
    There are also special private schools for autistic kids, which are super-expensive. The government has special schools for disabled students as well (not sure what the stats are for how many disabled kids are in regular classes and how many are at these schools or how it varies by disability type,) but these are apparently not that well suited for autistic needs.
    Since autism is recognized as a disability, anything that applies to disability in general will apply to autism. As far as I know, there aren't any laws specifically about autism, but the disability laws are actually pretty good. [China was one of the first countries to ratify the convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, and 残疾人权 (disabled person rights) is a specialization you can apparently go into here as a lawyer.] It's enforcement that has issues. [You know, like folks in the USA violate the ADA left right and center?]


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