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

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Syllabus Standards (in English this time!)

I finally got around to it, here's the English version of my piece about syllabus standards that I wrote in Chinese. Between paragraphs I toss out some comments about "so... if I had the language to say this instead/in addition I totally would, remember that this is me trying to write quickly in a second language."

The whole world has been getting more global, and education needs to change to reflect that. The (dean? president? not sure which) of New York University said that students should be able to study at multiple places. He thinks the whole world's universities should adopt one set of course/curriculum standards.This is because all having one set of standards would let more students study at more places. No matter what major a student has, they'd be able to go to another university to study for a semester or a year.
Ok, so it's really just very privileged college students who have the opportunity to do study abroad/away most of the time. Just remember that. Making it available to more people is a thing that I like, but remember that this isn't the case. (Minor plug for the Gilman here, because while it's generally not going to pay for a program on it's own, it has making study abroad available to more people as a goal.)

Also, who's coming up with the one set of standards? If western colleges, hello more imperialism and hello more whitewashing of history. Who's deciding what majors are getting standards written for them?
But making all the colleges use the same set of course standards would hurt some students. Students with unusual majors. For example, not all mechanical engineering programs are identical.From professors to archtects, from mechatronics experts to nanotechnology researchers, mechanical engineers do different things. Even though these people can all be called mechanical engineers, their specialties are not the same. Since I do nanotechnology research, the curriculum that best suits me isn't the same as that of most of my fellow students. If all the course standards were the same, it would be very hard or impossible for students to study some of the more unusual/customized majors. Then all the mechanical engineers would be only prepared for the same things. But this isn't hard to solve: don't make the course standards the same, but make syllabus/course introduction standards. This way, all the colleges could have totally different classes, but students can still tell what they need to know using the syllabuses and course introductions. Some of the things students need to know are:
Yes, I used my major set as part of an example. Short time frame, during class, it's what I had. I have no illusions that mine is the hardest one to work with, and I think that engineers would probably actually get split up further to account for this. Nanotechnology is an extant undergraduate major at a couple places. Studying things related to activism and marginalized groups is probably in way more danger from this sort of thing than my majors are.

Along those lines: no, I should not be the sole person in charge of these standards for syllabi, I'm white and I'm from the USA. I also don't think those standards should be mandatory, but I do think they should exist so that schools that decide they want to be a part of this sort of idea can be. And finally, I don't know how to go about actually creating such standards without being oppressive in some way, probably imperialist. I can point out the things that I think would be useful though, which I will now do.
1) What will you learn by taking this course? Knowing the content helps a student figure out if the course is useful to them or not.
2) What majors can this course be taken for credit in. For unique majors, this might not be useful, but for common majors that most students are in, this is good to know.
3) What knowledge is needed before starting the class? Stating this might have the biggest change: right now, a lot of colleges use their own course numbers for that. This won't work: colleges would need to say what knowledge students need. Students could choose other classes or do independent study to prepare, they just need to know the prerequisite information and they should be fine.
4) What's the learning method? This part includes how the testing is done, homework, meeting days and times, if it's online or not, and more.
For #2, I figure a list of what majors it's been counted towards before would work. There might need to be some sort of standard about schools being consistent about counting stuff towards the same majors, but I don't know how to work that one out.

For #4 and online classes, the question of "do I need to get to campus for the final" is important, because if not, you might be able to take this class while physically at a different place depending on college policies. (I think they should be cool with this, logistics is another story.)
Writing syllabi this way, students could look at multiple universities courses and figure out what course program suits them best. They could plan out where to study when and go to multiple different schools: letting students do this is why he was saying to globalize. Different colleges having different courses isn't an obstacle, but rather a reason that a student would want to study at different schools. In my humble opinion, the best method for colleges isn't to make course standards the same, but to have syllabi written with the same methods/information.
So "in my humble opinion" was a language bit we were supposed to make sure to use in class.
I don't think there should be a requirement to translate the syllabus on the school or anything- it should probably be written in whatever language the class is being conducted in, because if you can't understand it in that language, you'd probably have an issue taking a class conducted in that language. But there also shouldn't be a rule against providing translations of the syllabus/course introduction/course description either. Up to the teacher if they want to make those.

My feelings on globalization are also kind of mixed. I see how some pieces of it could be really cool- more people knowing more languages means more opportunities for communication (but it shouldn't need to be an "everyone learns the same one," just a "more languages is useful.") But the way it actually seems to be turning out looks more like "international corporations have huge amounts of power" combined with "the folks who were already powerful got more powerful." I'd like to see a version of globalization that worked as an equalizing force, though.

Friday, February 21, 2014

If checking for boundary violations is crass...

I'll stay crass then.

Yes, this happened, pretty recently actually. I've been in groups that are supposed to be autistic-only before, and I'm well aware that parents will come in, feeling entitled to autistic space because they have an autistic kid. They also tend not to get that autistic adults exist and make our own spaces sometimes.

So there was someone (no names of people, no names of the group in question, etc but there was someone) who posted a pretty typical parent question about their kid, who's actually a legal adult himself. (Why parent is here and kid is not, when kid's in the typical Facebook generation and parent isn't, I am not sure.) Since every reaction of this person down the whole thread was very typical entitled paaaarent, I asked if they were themselves autistic.

No answer, but another group member told me it was a crass question. Which, um. The group description specifically says that members should be on the spectrum (not everyone there has the same language preferences.) In the ideal world, that means only autistic people would try to join. That's great. Problem is, we don't live in the ideal world, and for reasons that probably have a decent bit to do with the politics of parent-run groups and with the privileges abled parents get over disabled people, parents are constantly trying to join this sort of group. That's not unique to autistic-run groups, by the way.

At this point, I'm trying to check if this person who's acting like an entitled parent actually is one (or if they're just kind of a jerk, which is annoying but not a violation of the group boundaries.) If checking to see if a boundary is actually being violated is a crass thing to do, I'd like to know what the proper thing is.

Is it to check in a more indirect way? I don't actually know how to do that. Is it to give benefit of the doubt? We'll be overrun with parents pretty quickly that way, let's be realistic about the world we actually live in here. That looks a lot like "not defending boundaries." I really do think that "defending boundaries" is the thing that's being thought of as crass here, so can we think about what it means to declare it crass for a person to defend their boundaries? 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Education and services, by Autistic people, for Autistic people.

You can thank Emily's (Mosaic of Minds') recent tweet for inspiring this post. She asked about what autism education and services designed by autistic people would look like. I'm autistic, I have opinions on what parts of this should look like, and I'm answering!

The first bit I want to say is relevant to the tweet I made pretty much when I saw hers:
There'd be supports for executive functioning issues that also allow for the decision of "I'm not doing this right now."
That's got two main parts in it- executive functioning supports are important because a lot of autistic people have executive functioning issues. I know I have them. For me, it means I'm really bad at independently switching from one activity to another. If I'm writing, I'll probably be writing until interrupted or distracted by something. The same thing goes for browsing the internet, playing games, reading, and pretty much anything. An Alyssa in activity stays in activity until acted upon by an outside force. Noticing that I'm hungry or thirsty is less likely to happen during activity.

Given those issues, it's a really good idea to have someone who can help give me the push to switch to doing a different thing. This is where allowing for the decision of "I'm not doing this right now" gets important. Sometimes when I get interrupted, it's not actually a good idea to switch things. Maybe I'm in the middle of a breakthrough. Maybe I just don't want to do the other thing right now and know it can wait a bit longer. Maybe I don't have the energy to do it as well as it deserves to be done. Maybe I don't have the idea for the thing yet. There's a lot of reasons that I could not want to switch to a given activity right now, and while I need help initiating the switch, I also need to be able to say "I'm not switching right now" or "I'm not switching to that right now." That's both for practical reasons and for autonomy reasons. Disabled people should have the same autonomy as everyone else, which in the case of students generally means the ability to choose not to do the homework and take the consequences of that. It also means the ability to choose to talk in class/not pay attention and take the consequences of that.

Teachers would actually know that most autistic people have sensory processing issues. One of my aunts works in a classroom that has quite a few autistic kindergartners, and she didn't know that after working with a couple years of these kids. (Which kids changes every year, like usual kindergarten.) Um. How did no one tell you this? I'm not blaming her for not knowing, because you can't know stuff if you've never encountered it and no one teaches the teachers this stuff it seems, but, um, the fact that she didn't know is worrying. So: teachers should know that most of us have sensory processing issues and that most of us have some sort of movement/coordination issue.

They would also quit it with the idea of fading supports for its own sake. Some people need certain supports and fading the supports that allow us to do stuff for the sake of "independence" doesn't actually end with us being independent. It ends with us not being able to do the things. Along the same lines, they'd actually believe the words "I can't do this." I talked about this about a year and a half ago under the title "Presuming Competence." Neurodivergent K wrote about it too, with examples and everything. It's important. And like K and ischemgeek both, if it can be outstubborned, I'm probably going to outstubborn it. You might not even know that there was a problem, because I am very good at outstubborning things. I've gone to the ER with injuries where the doctors were talking about prescribing the higher-power opiate type pain-killers and left with only the antibiotics I needed for the fact that I got bitten by a pig. I then proceeded to go to an agricultural fair and walk around and go on rides. My teachers knew I got injured, but I didn't miss any school and I was never late to class and I actually started riding my bike to school again later that same week. I am very good at outstubborning things. But that doesn't change the fact that there are some things I can't do. I don't start asking for help until well past when I need it, because it's always this reaction that I should be able to do it, but no. It does not work like that. I ask for help because I need help.

And communication. I can usually do verbal/vocal language. That's different from being able to get my needs met that way. Teachers would be aware of the difference between "fluent in requesting" (thanks Julia for letting me know it just means the ability to use the "I want _____" structure, which I can do) and actually being able to ask for things that we want or need when we want or need to. Of course, if autistic people designed the system, we'd probably have given a different descriptor to the ability to use that linguistic structure because that's not what fluency generally means. Dump the terms that are kind of doublespeak. There's already far too many of them in disability/autism services/care type stuff. 

Also along the lines of communication, alternative and augmentative communication is really important. That's things like picture cards, text-to-speech, eye-gaze tracking, typing, and more kinds of things than I could pretend to know about. For me, typing on a typical keyboard and then having a text-to-speech function is enough. But for some students, it takes a lot of trying different things, and it takes knowing that even if the skills we think of as prerequisites aren't there communication can still happen. (A lot of the stuff people think of as prerequisites for communication devices are actually learned really well by trying to use the devices.) Pretty sure the writer of this wasn't autistic, but it's a good post and makes the points I want to about choosing types of AAC.

The other AAC thing, which ties back in with "knowing the structure doesn't imply always being able to communicate the thing," is that even people with oral speech can benefit from AAC. Speech goes kaput on me sometimes. Other times speech is mostly working but it's hard enough to initiate the interaction that way or ask for what I need that way that it's really a much better idea to type. Certain kinds of thinking I can't keep up while also saying the words I'm thinking of in real time, but I can sometimes type the words in almost real time. I'm actually a really good example of someone with lots and lots of communicative oral speech who still needs AAC because I can't do all the things I need to orally.

I'm sure there are more things I'd think of given time, but my brain is tired now and this is long enough for one post I think. So here, a start on "how one autistic person would design/change autism supports and services."

Monday, February 17, 2014

Slightly Disorganized Thoughts on Forgiveness and Moving On

Warnings: References (no descriptions) of abuse, violence, people hurting each other.

I've been thinking about the ideas of moving on vs forgiving vs forgetting. These aren't the same things. Moving on is a prerequisite for forgetting/forgetting causes moving on if it hasn't happened yet, the way I look at it, but other than that, I'm pretty sure these can happen in any order.

First off, the definitions I'm using so that folks don't get super confused. I've seen a lot of disagreement about what forgiveness even means, so I think this is important.

Moving on: I don't spend particularly much time thinking about it. If something with a similar pattern comes up or I'm digging for examples, I might think of it. If someone brings it up, I know what they're talking about. Those last two are mostly to differentiate from forgetting. Moving on means thinking about the event isn't exactly taking up much time in my life. I probably don't think of it often.

Forgetting: I'm not going to come up the event as an example, not going to remember it if I see a pattern it fits in. If someone brings it up, my reaction is "wait, what?" or something along those lines. I may or may not have retained whatever I learned from the event itself, but I don't consciously remember the event. I think this is a pretty common idea of what forgetting is. Not something I can consciously decide to do, FYI.

Forgiving: I may or may not trust the person/organization, but I am not actively mad at them when I think about them/the event. I still recognize that it was a messed up thing to do, because if I didn't think it was messed up then I wouldn't think there was anything to forgive. There's some active relationship repair that's happening or has happened.

I'm actually going to use debts as a metaphor here. Yay metaphor time.

Forgetting means I lost the records. Forgiving means I cancelled the debts. Moving on means working under the assumption that the debt's not getting paid and not really worrying about this fact. If I run into the person and I've still got the records, I might make an attempt to get the debt repaid, or I might not, depending on a bunch of stuff. Even if I don't bother trying to collect, I still am aware that yes, it is a debt.

For me, forgiveness requires a real attempt to fix the problem and be better in the future. Moving on doesn't require that. Forgetting isn't something I decide to do, but it implies that I've moved on because I'm not thinking about it. When people talk about forgiveness as something that will lift a burden for the forgiver, I wonder if those people are equating forgiveness with moving on. Maybe they can't move on without forgiving. I don't know- I'm going to demonstrate "theory of mind" here and say that I recognize their mental states are different from mine. Yes, there is some sarcasm/satire at the idea of theory of mind that I'm intending in that statement. I'll continue said use of "theory of mind" and suppose that the people who insist I must be unduly burdened by the wrongs I've not forgiven don't understand how my mental state is different from theirs. That is, they are lacking this "theory of mind." But wait, I'm the one who's Autistic, so that can't be.

Too bad. So sad. If people are going to come up with ideas of the "root" of autism that are that silly, I'm going to poke fun at them when I get the chance.

I can move on without forgiving. A lot of people can. Related to the fact that I can do this, if I forgive someone who's wronged me, that's because they're attempting to fix the problem and do better. I'm not Jesus, folks. Not even Christian (though I am under the impression that they also want you to at least be sorry and try to change.) I'm kind of Jewish (went to Hebrew School, Bat Mitzvahed, family celebrations around Jewish holidays, but I don't really believe in any higher powers,) and I'm pretty OK with the way of handling forgiveness that I was taught in Hebrew school. See, while folks tended to not work that way in real life, the cycle went something like this, from the perspective of a person who did a wrong thing. "I'm sorry," was step one. "I won't do it again," and other statements of attempts to make it right were step two. Not doing it again was step three. I'm not a fan of the part where you're kind of expected to give forgiveness if the person who wronged you does all those things, but at least the expectation of being better is there.

(Hey, Neurodivergent K, I think your idea of what a person needs to do for a shot at forgiveness and the Jewish idea I was taught for what you need to do to be forgiven have some similarities.)

From my observations of the world, I'm going to assume there are also a lot of people who can't move on without forgiving. That's OK. Different mental states/mental processes for different people. I think potential problems arise when people assume that moving on requires forgiveness and give advice based on this assumption (or assume that potential bad effects of not moving on are automatically worse than potential bad effects of trusting someone who is making no attempt to be better.) I don't think those are the only places problems can come from, not by a long shot, but I think they're important.

Different people handle being wronged differently. Some folks need to use "never forgive, never forget" to keep themselves safe. That's especially true when the world actually isn't safe and people keep trying to do wrong things to you. Recognizing those patterns and staying the heck away from the folks who fall into those patterns, not letting them back in, can be important.

Sometimes the same people who need to do that might be people who actually can't move on without forgiving. I'm not in either of these categories of people, so I can't say what they absolutely think of this idea, but I've got an idea. It's that even if not being able to move on is a burden (and yes, I'm leaving that as an if,) sometimes taking on a burden is what you've got to do to stay safe. People make calculations of "which not-awesome thing is less bad?" all the time, and as much as it stinks to be making that kind of calculation... it's not the place of people who aren't making the calculation to say the people living that are doing it wrong. I'm not sure there's actually a contradiction in that sentence.

Long story short, moving on and forgiving aren't the same thing, and some people can do one without the other. I assume there are folks who can forgive without moving on as well, but I'm fairly sure that's not one of the combinations I can do.

And example time: I've moved on from a decent bit of the stuff that happened to be in 5-6th grade when the school somehow managed to attach another girl to me because she "behaved better around me." I've not forgiven them. If someone tried to defend what the school did as OK, especially if the school tried? They are in DEEP TROUBLE. But as long as no one/nothing else brings it up, I don't exactly spend my time worrying about it. I've got stuff I'd rather be doing.

Note that the problem sources I talked about here are just the ones where the person doing it actually means well. Demanding forgiveness because you're uncomfortable with another person's anger isn't meaning well, and there's a ton of other ways forgive/forget/move on/etc can get very ugly when people talking about it don't mean well. I'll go out on a limb and assume that I missed several ways it can go wrong even when people mean well, but I've not even tried to get into malicious stuff.

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Language Thought From the Semester

I never thought I'd wind up going "oh god how do I say this in English." But it happened. Apparently that's what happens when I go in expecting to give a presentation in Chinese, my powerpoint is in Chinese, and then as I'm standing at the front of the room the teacher tells me I'm presenting in English.

The article I wrote was also in Chinese. I think that surprised the teacher a bit- I'd asked him if I could use articles written in English as sources and he'd said yes, but I never said else. He assumed I was using English, probably because that's my first language. Since he's the teacher, what he wanted won, and I gave the presentation in English. (Really, really conversational English.)

Anyways, the topic was quantum-dot sensitized solar cells. I've got my article that I wrote saved somewhere and yes, I will be putting it up here on the off chance anyone wants to try to read it.

But that's not actually the thing I want to talk about. I want to talk about the language thought. It was weird thinking "how do I say this in English?" I think it happened because I'd been listening in Chinese in class, and because two of the sources I used were in Chinese. (I used four sources: two English, two Chinese.) I especially think so because I've since had my final for Graph Theory and I had similar thoughts while I was studying, after the teacher told me I could write my answers in English if I wanted to. (I blanked on how to write a couple characters so I put in pinyin and English for those characters but I pretty much wrote the exam in Chinese.)

It was actually an even bigger "how do I say this in English?" issue for Graph Theory, because my textbook was also in Chinese. The thing I was studying from was in Chinese, and yes I understood it, but the characters I remember how to write is a smaller set than the characters I can read and understand. (This seems to be true of Chinese people as well, especially with the spread of typing. Watching my teachers forget how to write a character every so often makes me feel a little bit better about the fact that I forget kind of a lot.)

So I got to thinking, and maybe the way that foreign languages are working here is similar to the way that styles of language have worked for me in the past: whichever language (style) I used to learn the thing is the one that I will remember better and default to when talking about the thing. In this case, that means graph theory and quantum dot sensitized solar cells are both in Chinese. That's going to be fun when I get back to the United States, I bet. (Professor, how do I say 完美匹配 in English?) [Wan mei pi pei, perfect matching. I've forgotten this one before, but at the moment, I do know it.]

Oh, and here's a link to a post I wrote about language stuff earlier and then didn't manage to post it until Monday. :/

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Love, Not Fear

This is for the Love, Not Fear flashblog happening tomorrow, done by Boycott Autism Speaks. Figured I should start off with that. Also, I saw Neurodivergent K's post before mine posted and it's saying things I would want to add, so I'm just gonna leave you with that link... the Litany Against Fear is really cool, and the way she added other stuff in between with relevancy is really cool and I kind of wish I'd thought of it.

So, what does "Love, not fear" mean to me?

I think love and fear can exist together, actually. Love of, fear for. Fear of autism and love for autistic people don't go together, certainly, but fear of what others do to autistic people can totally go with love for autistic people. And I'll admit it: I'm often afraid. I'm scared of the ways people limit our language use, and I'm scared of the things parents apparently think it's acceptable to do to autistic people, and I'm scared of a whole lot of other things too. Because love, I stand and fight these things that I am afraid of. Not autism, I won't fight a part of a person, that's not love for the person. But the terrible things that others do in the name of fighting autism? Because I love autistic people, I will fight those battles.

Love sometimes leads to fear that others will hurt the ones you love, and it sometimes leads to anger about the ways others have hurt the ones you love. But it also gives the courage to stand up and fight against those horrible things. Love gives the strength to say "I am afraid, and I will love anyways."

Am I afraid of the effects of autism's demonization? Yes. I am.
Do I fear autism? Do I fear autistic people? No. I don't. That's not love.

And I will close with a thing I remember from a series that I think was called Fearless. The idea was that courage doesn't mean "I'm not afraid at all." It means recognizing what it is you're afraid of and doing what needs to be done anyways because we love. Feel like Nita from Young Wizards would do that too. (Yeah I'm apparently in a book reference mood.)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Language Relations

Written in December during my time of not really getting anything up here. I have since found out that my math teacher's English is not, in fact, good, and that he doesn't use it because he's not good with it.

Thinking about China stuff. I've got very different relationships with different people I've met here. I've got a couple classmates in my materials science (semiconductors, metals, and some applications) who I eat dinner with after class every Tuesday and Wednesday. My math teacher (graph theory) lives practically next door to me, and we both take the subway home after class on Tuesday nights, so we tend to walk/ride together and talk.

There wasn't even a big event that got me thinking about this. It was a small event. Really tiny. I was walking from dinner with my classmates from materials science, heading towards math. Math teacher sees me, I see him, I'm like "Hi!" I say that I'm like instead of I said because this is all happening in Chinese. I believe I actually said 老师好, which is a greeting for a teacher. Yay cultural and language differences.

He (teacher) talks to me at a pretty normal speed. He's going to get dinner, so he might get to the classroom a bit later than usual (he's usually there about half an hour early, no, really) and can I stick his bag in the room? I say sure, he hands me the bag, he keeps walking, and so do I.

My classmates from materials science spend a good two or three minutes testing me on what the teacher said because they have a hard time believing I actually understood. Apparently the teacher was talking fast? At which point they are impressed, because yes, I do in fact speak Chinese and I understood the conversation I just had with my teacher.

Since stuff related to my math teacher is already on-topic, I mention that we talk on the way to the subway and on the subway, since we're basically neighbors.
Here's the thing that made me think.

The initial reaction my classmates had to this? "Your teacher's English must be very good."
I mean, I assume my teacher's English is, in fact, pretty good. He says that this is the first time he's used our current text to teach graph theory, and the one he used to use is in English. It's also the first time the class has been for undergrads. I think those two statements are related. So at the very least, I know he can read English stuff in his specialty. I may have tried to say major there, since the same word in Chinese works for both- 专业. But here's the thing: I've never actually heard him speak English. If I don't understand a word, he'll explain in Chinese. My materials science classmates explain in English. Often they need to pull out their phones and look up the word to do it, but they tell me in English.

I just thought that was interesting. It seems to be a bit of a pattern: Everyone requires proof that I do, in fact, understand Chinese so long as they realize I'm not Chinese (mixed results with the folks who think I'm half Han, yes, that's happened.) Young folks are quicker to speak English when I don't get something, and they probably want to practice their English anyways. So they don't see me handling everything in Chinese the same way most older folks do. Older folks tend to be glad I speak Chinese, and since they're not trying to English at me they get a quicker idea of how much Chinese I can actually use.

In this specific case of math teacher vs materials science classmates, it might also make a difference that my math teacher occasionally asks the class a question and I tend to be willing and able to answer. Yes, in Chinese. There's actually a decent number of math terms where I know the concepts and I know the words to explain the concepts in Chinese, but I don't know the English. Considering that my first language is English, this is really weird for me.

(匹配,最大匹配,最优匹配,交错路,可扩路 are all words where I don't actually know the English. I may have partially forgotten 边 as well, which is awkward because that's a really basic part of a graph. It's the thing connecting the vertices.)

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Internet and Disability Notes

I was looking at a call for papers/chapters that I missed about internet and disability stuff, and when I thought I might submit something I did some research and took some notes, which are below. No, the notes aren't all that organized, but if they help anyone then yay.

(The idea I had was about disabled people using the internet to create access for each other, because I know that's a thing. It's not good that we wind up needing to because the rest of society isn't, but it's awesome when we do it and in disabled-run spaces it is, in fact, disabled people's responsibility to make things accessible.)

Per DOI 10.1300/J113v21n01_04:

By 2002, legal scholarship began predicting that commercial web sites would fit under Title 3 of the ADA and therefore require reasonable access for people with disabilities.

Access includes, but is not limited to: text labels for graphics and for all functions to be activateable with the keyboard.

Check their source#7 for 98% of websites inaccessible to the disabled.

Java script and other graphic-based writing are typically inaccessible to those using screen-readers.

Section 508, which amended the Rehabilitation Act of 1793, requires federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible, including websites.

Per source 19, Department of Justice argued that the ADA applies to non-physical accommodations, including web sites during the Clinton Administration.

Limiting places of public accommodation to physical structures negates significant portions of the protections provided by the ADA to those with mental disability, which the District Court of Minnesota has used to argue the ADA would be meant to apply to non-physical entities.

If you sue under Section 508 and win, they'll pay your attorneys fees.

ADA is required to be interpreted as providing at least as much protection as the Rehabilitation Act
Enforcing ADA requirements on the web would require more resources than the government is likely able (willing) to provide. [What, they could totally steal it from military, our military does not need as much money as we currently give it.]

Cite the ADA:

As the ADA's purpose is to "address the major areas of discrimination faced day-to-day by people with disabilities" and to "provide a clear and comprehensive mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with Disabilities," the spirit of the legislation should include web sites, which have become a part of daily life.

Discrimination includes "a failure to make reasonable accommodations in policies, practices, or procedures, when such modifications are necessary to afford such goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations to individuals with disabilities."

Look up Access Board, EITAAC, accessibility standards for electronic and information technology covered by Section 508.
World Wide Web Consortium's Accessibility Guidelines
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Friday, February 7, 2014

PACLA Magazine Wants Submissions

So I'm actually one of the moderators of Parenting Autistic Children With Love & Acceptance, though not a particularly active moderator. This is a thing I'm sharing from there. It deserves shared.

Image description: Gray background with black text that reads: "Introducing PACLA Magazine. Parenting Autistic Children With Love & Acceptance is starting a new, bimonthly parenting magazine! An online magazine that will amplify Autistic voices, promote acceptance, respect, the ideas of neurodiversity and the joyful parenting of our amazing Autistic children. Inquiries & Submissions:

We are putting out a call for submissions for a brand new magazine all about parenting Autistic children with love, acceptance and respect! If you'd like to be included in PACLA magazine, please submit your material to before March 5th, 2014!

We are also looking for artwork from Autistic artists of all ages for our magazine!

Please remember that we are an intentional community. PACLA Magazine will reflect those intentions and follow the basic guidelines of our Facebook community:

1. We love and accept our children as Autistic people.
2. We don't want to change our children.
3. We don't wish our children were not Autistic.
4. We do not speak over the voices of Autistic people.
5. We recognize that Autistic voices deserve center stage over our voices as parents of Autistic children.
6. We parent our children with an eye towards promoting neurodiversity and acceptance.
7. We do not subscribe to therapies/interventions which seek to change the nature of our children or utilize aversives.
8. We are open to learning from Autistic adults.
9. We foster our children's growth through respectful accommodation and support.
10. We do not tolerate the bullying of Autistic people.

Now words from me again:
Yes, 8. can and should be interpreted as meaning that submissions from Autistic adults are welcome whether or not the Autistic adult submitting is a parent. It needs to be something that'd be good for the parent of an Autistic kid to read.

Yes, I'm probably going to see if they want to reprint a thing "For Parents" tag. I'll go through later and figure out which of those things I'd consider sending them.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Saturday Nights

They are friends of mine. They do music. They've been doing music for a while, actually- they've done stuff under the name High Tide and under the name PONS as well.

I've talked about their lyrics twice before- once on the idea that if we're going down anyways, well, we might as well go down fighting. ("Can we wait? Does it help if our cause is lost? I won't give a second thought, the solution is to trouble the waters my friend. You'd rather watch than sink or swim?")

The other time was about being seen as a failure no matter what you do.

Yeah, heavy stuff, I know. Point is, they have new music and a new page and I'm putting that in your face today. It'd be cool if you checked them out, and yes, they are good at making music.

So here's their new Bandcamp page with an EP you can listen to for free. I might have it on repeat. Maybe. (And that might be a change from having People of the Sun on repeat, that's another of theirs.)
Warning for "insane" used in the song "Gone."
They've also got a Facebook page.

I think I'm out of things to say for the moment.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Autistic Hermione Thoughts

I was thinking about Harry Potter. Then I was thinking about it more. Hence thoughts about autistic Hermione. No, she doesn't have to be read as autistic, and I'm not going to argue that she must be read that way because it's not so. I do read her that way, though (People told me I was just like Hermione for years...) And I am having thoughts.

Trigger Warnings: References to major bullying and possibly being suicidal.

Imagine Hermione speaking on time, maybe even early, but her pronunciation is off in ways that get her sent off to speech therapy anyways and she hates it because it's so hard to get her mouth to move in those ways. Once she learns, though, she hasn't got any patience for the people who didn't have to work like she did and get it wrong because they just don't care. Her classmates figure this out and use it to trigger meltdowns.

Imagine those meltdowns (and the ones caused by other bullying, and sometimes even the ones caused by plain old sensory overload) meaning that the teachers are kind of scared of her. The fact that meltdowns are one of the big times when accidental magic comes out doesn't exactly help here. They're terrified of her. So are her classmates. Not terrified enough to stop bullying her and triggering the meltdowns, though. And like Neurodivergent K pointed out, teachers punish the Behavior, but not the Antecedent to the Behavior (huge trigger warning on linked post.) This gets Hermione in a lot of trouble.

This goes on for a few years. Now it's the summer between fifth and sixth grade, and Hermione just turned eleven. Her parents are fighting with the school yet again to keep her in typical classes because they know she's smart, they know she doesn't belong in special classes (they're kind of Aspie elitist even though Hermione isn't really an Aspie, they just want to think she is. Yes, this is a source of tension, though Hermione never brings it up. She knows full well that people thinking she's Aspie is the only thing barely keeping her in the slightly less boring classes.) In the middle of that battle, a letter from Hogwarts arrives. Her parents see it first, and their initial reaction is that it's a scam to get them to pull Hermione out of school. They don't fall for it, they're convinced that the instant they respond it will trigger some sort of automatic dropping her from the regular rosters (true) and then it will fall through itself (false.) They decide not to tell Hermione, because they want to protect her from the lengths people will go to to exclude, at least for a while yet.

Then Professor McGonagall shows up at their house. This woman from the letter shows up at their house and Hermione's parents are terrified because this person trying to get out daughter out of the schools is at our house. Hermione starts out confused, since her parents didn't tell her about this latest development, then she's scared of McGonagall and angry at her parents for not telling her. Somehow McGonagall convinces them that Hogwarts is for real and that they're not just trying to yank Hermione out of school and that they didn't even know that was going on and why were they trying to do that anyways?

McGonagall is kind of confused because she's never dealt with this label “autism” before (there are autistic wizards, of course, but none of the ones coming through Hogwarts have been diagnosed before) but the magic that tracks the accepted students can't be fooled so she just goes to work figuring out how to make everything work. Hermione's hair somehow manages to become a major issue- she needs the weight of it for sensory reasons, she can't do brais (also sensory), and she hasn't figured out the motor skills for brushing it herself yet. This actually has Hermione's parents really worried. Hermione's sort of assuming there's a spell that will take care of it, and there is, but it's not one you'd usually expect a first-year to be able to do. But this is Hermione, and she gets McGonagall to at least try teaching it to her, and it turns out she can do it. Since McGonagall thinks it's a bit odd for an eleven year old to still need her parents brushing her hair, she winds up giving Hermione permission to use just that one spell outside of school even though she's underage, and she makes sure the Ministry knows. That's the spell Hermione was talking about on the train, by the way. She didn't want to say so because she's learned what happened when her classmates know.

But before we get on the train, there's more. She memorized all her books? Yes, she really is that interested, but that's not why she started. She was scared. What if they decide they don't want me at Hogwarts either after I'm there? I won't be able to go back to regular school, they won't take me, I can't screw this up. So she decides she's going to memorize all her books. It turns out to be easier than she thought because all of this is just so interesting, but that's not why she decided to do it. She'll let you think that was why, but it's not.

Now we go to Hogwarts. We already know Snape's bigoted- we know it from how he treats Muggle-borns and werewolves. He's an abusive bully too- see Neville's boggart being Snape, seriously. Now we've got a developmentally disabled Muggle-born. That's even worse. So instead of being understanding about her being autistic, he decides to take advantage of it to push all her buttons and then blame her for it. And of course, the Behavior gets punished, but not the Antecedent. That's even more true when a teacher is the Antecedent (still huge trigger warning on link.) It doesn't actually help that she's smart. If she were average, he might get sick of it, but she's top of the class and doesn't dare let anyone forget it because she's still scared they'll send her away like her primary school wanted to and she's pretty sure they can't threaten Hogwarts with a lawsuit. Maybe he doesn't get that's why she makes it so clear. He probably wouldn't care anyways.

And of course, the oh-so-famous line, “before we get killed, or worse, expelled!” An autistic student who's pretty sure there's nowhere else to go might legitimately think expelled is worse because if you're dead you at least don't need to deal with the fact that there are no more options. There are reasons so many school-age autistic people get suicidal, and the thought of being pushed out of school again (the only school where she's ever had anything resembling a friend!) could well be enough to push an autistic Hermione in that direction. Not such a funny line anymore, is it?

Over time, Hermione gets more comfortable with the fact that they're not going to send her home in disgrace over all this stuff. Being friends with The Boy Who Lived probably helps here- it's a big priority to keep Harry safe, and Hermione does save Harry and Ron's skins quite a few times over the course of the books. Her first reaction when she wakes up from being Petrified is still that having missed so much class is going to get her sent home, though. That's why she stayed up as long as her body would take (brewing alertness potions herself once Madam Pomfrey wouldn't give her any more) to get caught up for the year-end exams as soon as she was awake. And then Dumbledore cancels them and all that work for nothing?! She's not great at hiding her emotions and we see her upset reaction. Once they don't send her home over the safety issue of her getting Petrified or over all the class she missed, she's actually a lot more comfortable with the fact that she's not getting sent home. She's kind of wondering what it would even take to get expelled, since the only example she's got of a person being expelled is when everyone thought he'd murdered someone. She never gets completely comfortable that she's not getting kicked out and sent home, even after she's married to Ron and has kids and is the director of... I actually forget what she was the director of sorry, but the fear is in the back of her mind, not the front. Not gone, that kind of thing never goes away any more than traumatizing stuff she dealt with in her time at Hogwarts and in the year she spent running around for Horcruxes does, but she's mostly past it. Mostly.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Alignments and Houses

I was thinking a bit about Hogwarts Houses and about Dungeons and Dragons alignments, and now I'm going through the alignments to see if there are any Houses I think they would either disproportionately wind up in or not wind up in. [In case anyone is curious, I sort Gryffindor, and I seem to be Neutral Good, leaning more Chaotic Good than Lawful Good if I really had to go one way or the other.] Before I start, let me point out that while these kinds of alignments can be a useful tool, no, they're not going to tell you everything about a person or character. Also, all 36 combinations will exist and I'm just thinking about which ones I feel would be more common. [I like to Sort my original characters and I always know what their alignments are.]

So. Lawful Good: I feel like they'd wind up in Hufflepuff fairly often, because goodness and loyalty and friendship are big Hufflepuff things. I'd be really interested to write a Lawful Good Slytherin sometime, I feel like there wouldn't be a ton of them but yeah they'd exist. Major possitive correlation with Hufflepuff, minor negative correlation with Slytherin for Lawful Good.

Now Lawful Neutral: Lots of Ravenclaw, lots of Slytherin. I feel like there would be very few Gryffindors here, since their thing is being kind of foolhardy about what they believe in, not so much being “rules are rules” and following everything to a tee.

Lawful Evil: HUGELY NOT HUFFLEPUFFS. Seriously, this is not a Hufflepuff. Feels rather Slytherin, using the law to your own not so good ends. I think a lot of these folk would wind up in Slytherin. Umbridge, for example, I think is Lawful Evil Slytherin. (Did we ever find out where she was sorted?)

Neutral Good: Very Hufflepuff, very Gryffindor. Which one depends on how you show your goodness. Between Ravenclaw and Slytherin I don't think there'd be much difference in how often they go there, and it's not so much a negative relationship as “well there's a big positive relationship with someone who's not me.”

True Neutral: “I want to know about all the things, good and bad!” Sounds rather Ravenclaw, doesn't it? There would be a decent number of Ravenclaws here. I'm not convinced there would be any House that's specifically more likely to get folks of this alignment, really. Peter Pettigrew probably goes here- doesn't seem to care as much about what's good or bad, legal or illegal, just about protecting himself. Maybe a negative correlation with Hufflepuff? Not nessesarily though, since you can be true neutral by way of not caring what effects it has on anyone else or how it relates to the law- if it's what needs to be done to be loyal to friends/family, you'll do it. I think True Neutral is... kind of neutral.

Neutral Evil: No specific correlations, I don't think. It'd depend rather heavily on traits that are outside of their alignment. The Hufflepuffs here would have wound up here because Helga really was willing to teach everyone the same, and probably hate it. But canonically, Hufflepuff had the fewest Dark Wizards and Slytherin the most, so I guess they mostly went Slytherin in the books. I think that's more because people got kind of scared of Slytherin early on (the legend about the Chamber of Secrets, anyone?) and so people with choices didn't really want to go there, hence any evil alignment that didn't have any strong directionality towards another House would wind up in Slytherin because they'd be least worried about the reputation. That's different from saying they actually go there when the Hat doesn't need to worry about making the numbers about even, which it seems like it tries to do.

Chaotic Good: They tend to be Gryffindor or Slytherin. Gryffindor for the ones who blatantly go chaotic and openly break all the rules when breaking the rules is the only way to do the right thing, Slytherin for the ones who ignore laws sneakily, rely on connections to get away with it, maybe use the system to show how messed up the system is and therefore dismantle it, that sort of thing. Chaotic Good Gryffindors get caught. A lot. Chaotic Good Slytherins are a lot better at not getting caught. Fred and George totally strike me as Chaotic Good Gryffindors.

Chaotic Neutral: The first thing coming to my head is “I'd be unstoppable if it weren't for law enforcement and gravity.” Thanks to magic, gravity isn't much of a concern, so it's anti-law now. Negative correlation with Hufflepuff, but that's about it, I think.

Chaotic Evil: No traits specific to the alignment make me think of any specific House. In the world of Harry Potter, numbers and the image Slytherin has gotten means they'll overwhelmingly get Sorted Slytherin, but in terms of just the traits that make a person Chaotic Evil? Meh, I don't think they're actually any more likely to belong in Slytherin than anywhere else.