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, March 31, 2014

Flapping and Spinning: Not Your Code

Apparently some folks are now using flapping and spinning as their code for... I guess for obviously autistic-acting which is then code for severe? And yes, flapping and spinning are kind of obvious, easy to see autistic things to be doing (though non-autistic people will sometimes do the same, I've seen this.)

But it is absolutely not your code for "more severe than thou." Stop that.

First off, flapping is part of how a lot of us naturally move. Considering that "seem less severe" is a pretty common goal for parents and educators (not a goal I'm a fan of for multiple reasons, but not really the point because it is a common goal) making natural movement one of the things to get rid of is the next logical step. That's really not going to go well. Julia Bascom's Quiet Hands makes a really good reminder of this. (Huge trigger warning on that post, btw.)

Remember: energy and attention are limited. This is true of everyone. Energy spent on changing how we naturally move (Stop flapping! Stop spinning! Don't play with your hair! Stop rocking! Sit still!) is energy that we can't spend on something else. Maybe the something else is paying attention to whatever we're supposed to be learning. That's pretty counterproductive, making us look like we're paying attention and then we can't actually pay attention so we don't get the lesson. Maybe the something else is saving the upcoming meltdown until we're alone and won't get punished for it. (Yes, this is a thing. A lot of us do learn to delay meltdowns a bit, at least some of the time, though the cost is generally high. For me, I'll often be shut down for hours longer if I try to delay, but since someone getting in my face while I'm melting down will do the same thing and maybe be even worse...)

So here's a reality check: For a lot of us, flapping, spinning, rocking, and other visible stimming? That's how we're able to do the other stuff we do.

Another reality check: How much a person visibly stims isn't actually negatively correlated with other skills.

And the final reality check: Deciding to act like their is a correlation and a causation? Acting on that decision will have a negative effect on other skills.

Face it: It's not the flapping or the rocking or the spinning that's a sign there will be issues. It's the decision by parents and teachers and other authority figures that those things need to be stopped. Get your codes right (or just stop making things code for concepts that don't make sense. That's a better idea.)

Friday, March 21, 2014

How about y'all #StopCombatingMe?

So this is for the Stop Combating Me flashblog. 

Order 66. Order 66. Order 66.
I know that reference. (Star Wars, order to kill the Jedi)
Exterminate. (Doctor Who, Daleks)
Well, eradicate is the word they use. They don't want to be quite so obvious as to actually quote the creepy science fiction or science fantasy examples.

And yet.
I don't get how it's not that obvious. With people from outside the “autism community” (in quotes, because there is no such one community, but still used because some people are outside all the autism and autistic communities) hear what is going on, they get that it's messed up pretty fast. Not all the pieces, but that something is very wrong here? Oh, yes, they get that fast.

Not living, just existing? That line that disillusioned parents recently makes friends, teachers recoil.
They said WHAT on a PSA?!” That's the reaction when I tell them about the woman who told the world she considered murder-suicide in Autism Every Day.
But... good parents don't kill their kids...” Yeah, I know. And for some reason, when I or others like me tell the parents of autistic kids this... they manage not to get it.

Sure, they might not how much am like the “poor dears” pictured, but they get that killing people is wrong and they get that encouraging murder is wrong and they get that speaking like your children robbed you of your (and their) lives is wrong.

Somewhere in combating autism (but not autistic people, or so they say) it became OK to combat the autistic people. Right now, I don't really care if it's somehow possible to combat autism but not autistic people (pretty sure it's impossible, because autism isn't separate from us, but right now that's not even the point.) I care that right now we are combating autistic people. We are. Autistic people are having childhoods taken away in the push for typicality, autistic people are being locked away, autistic people are dying of the ways people try to combat autism. Even if you think it's possible to combat autism but not autistic people, the fact remains: that's now what's actually happening. What's actually happening is taking its toll on autistic people, not some nameless and shapeless autism sans person.

Maybe you could argue that they're not specifically trying to combat autistic people, but is considering autistic people acceptable collateral damage really any better? I say no: it's calling the lives of autistic people worth so little that we're acceptable losses in the fight against autism. It's making it acceptable to turn autistic people into a battlefield for the sake of combating autism. (Ever seen a battlefield after the battle? Yeah, don't turn a place into a battlefield in order to “save” it, it doesn't work. Doesn't work any better when the battlefield is a person.)

Do you think us being the battlefield or the collateral damage instead of the enemy makes us any less combated? It doesn't. Face that reality: even if we're not the intended targets of combating autism, combating autism is still hurting autistic people. It's still combating the very people you probably think you're helping when you say you're combating autism. Unless the autistic people aren't the ones you're doing this for, but our oh-so-overwhelmed family members (note the sarcasm, please.) If that's the case, at least be honest about it: you're then combating us because you think we make life harder for the real people or whatever. (Think we're real people? Then maybe our lives should matter, huh?)

Don't like the implications of any of those ideas? Maybe you should take the hint, and stop combating us.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


I'm getting ready for April. Part of that involves a sewing project. See, I don't have any orange clothing that's appropriate to the weather that I'm expecting for April. I've got a sweater I bought because everyone was telling me I needed warmer clothes, but it was about right for the middle of January, early February. It's absolutely not something I could tolerate wearing in spring.

So I went to the Tianjin Fabric Market. (天津布料市场) and walked around to try and find some good orange fabric. I found some.

Photo of a square of orange fabric on the floor- a grey carpet. The edge of a persons skirt is visible at the left edge of the photo.

I actually found a lot. That picture is just of what will be one pocket- I'm making a long dress with short sleeves and have enough extra that I might make a cape or something. Since I don't have access to a sewing machine at the moment (I assume there is one around somewhere, I just don't know where or if I'd be allowed to use it) I'm sewing by hand. That's a decent bit of sewing, especially since I know I'm hard on my clothes and do a lot of multiple seaming.

No, really. Like, a lot. Hems I go over once, hem type things in other places (edges of sleeves, necklines) I also only sew once. Everything else gets at least twice. Pockets, the places where pockets are put in (and all seams around it for about an inch,) shoulders, and about two inches in all directions from the armpits are all triple seamed. I know where stuff tends to rip for me, and I prefer that my clothing not rip when I'm doing stuff.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Writing to Ask For A Job

Reprinting a piece I put up recently on We Are Like Your Child because I figure the audience there and the audience here aren't totally the same.

Yeah, I know, even the neurotypical folk don't like doing this. I'm fairly sure that hours spent staring at a blank word document because I don't even know how to start, followed by staring at the scaffold someone gave me having no clue how to build on it, then finally getting somewhere when a friend who gets my cognitive issues asked me questions one by one to help me build on it and then walking me through editing is more than most people need.

Qualitative differences, they are a thing. Also, "I have a cognitive issue that means I can't actually do this independently" is different from "I really don't like doing this."

But with help, I got it done-ish (yay!) and my friend was cool with my putting the results of the help here, so here it is.

First off, here's the scaffold that's pretty much what he gave me.

my name is flap
you do research
it's actually a lot like the research I wrote my final paper on.
I want do research.
I have done research before in US.
Hire me.

Then he asked me a pile of questions that he knew could get me to elaborate (one or more per line of the initial scaffold, usually more.) It's still not really a letter, but there's content now!

my name is Alyssa.

you do research and development of dye-sensitized solar cells.
it's actually a lot like the research I wrote my final paper on: quantum-dot sensitized solar cells. It uses similar properties, just using a different tiny particle.I talked about improving the efficiency of quantum dot sensitized solar cells.A lot of the research in the quantum dot ones uses the research on dye ones as a starting point!but not everything is the same. dye likes high temp, not so much quantum dots. 
I want do research. SCIENCE! I want to do nanotechnology research long-term, and this is pretty much doing nanotechnology research now.
I've been interested in nanotechnology since I was ten or so, reading Science News. Took longer to figure out that I can do nanotechnology research myself, but yay cool thing!
Making solar cells better is specifically important because saving the environment is important.
Combining "important research" and "this is just REALLY COOL" makes a good combination as far as things I want to do go. 
I have done research before in US. I worked on making gold-coated liposomes. I worked under [professor] in mechanical engineering @ [school] and [another professor] in chemical engineering @ [school]. 
I applied for and got a small grant from the universities undergraduate research initiative.Another undergrad is currently working on the project while I'm away.
We took pictures using an electron microscope and we do seem to have shells.
Um... the shells are applicable to a bunch of things potentially, including targetted cancer treatment. 
I've done research before and was good at it, see above.
I can read a lot and there's a lot of reading involved in doing science. I am good at numbers and computers and following written directions, and I have experience in writing the directions for experiments as well 
Science is a thing I'm generally good at.
Complementary language abilities is a thing, but [current program] might get pissy at me for pointing it out. (Both of us can read the relevant stuff in English or in Chinese, but English is my native language and Chinese is his, so that's potentially useful? Hire me.

Finally, he helped me connect and edit stuff. This is the step where I came closest to doing it myself, but I did need some help.

Dear Professor Wang,
I am writing to ask about doing research in your lab this semester regarding your work in dye-sensitized solar cells. It's in a similar area to my final paper topic from your class, improved efficiency for quantum-dot sensitized solar cells, and much of the reasearch I looked at mentioned relationships between the two. I'm interested in research within nanotechnology, and have done research before at [school] under [professor] (Mechanical Engineering) and [other professor] (Chemical Engineering.) There, I worked on growing a gold nanolayer onto liposomes and successfully applied for the undergraduate research initiative grant. The early results have been promising and I have been asked to return to their lab upon my return to [location of school]. As an experienced research assistant, I think I could be helpful in your work on nanocrystals and their applications. The fact that I am bilingual in English and Chinese may prove useful in that I can read research in either language. I hope to hear back from you soon about this research opportunity and am happy to provide references upon request.
Alyssa [last name]
The last step was to translate it into Chinese... that never actually happened... but my program made the contacts and found me another person to do research under, who I'm meeting with tomorrow compared to my writing this and about a week ago compared to when this posts.

Language proficiency is not the reason this didn't get translated, by the way. I'm not 100% sure what the reason set was, but language proficiency is not the issue. I've translated tougher stuff before, and I've written tougher stuff directly in Chinese as well.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Some Chinese stuff because yeah...

Have some stuff from Chinese.

First thing is a short essay about "So, culture changes with time and it can totally survive in the midst of some parts changing. This has actually been happening since forever." My examples were Ancient Greeks getting pissy about writing making it so people can read stories instead of having to listen to them but wait storytelling didn't actually die, USA people getting pissy about how newspapers mean you can read on the train instead of talking to people but hey people actually do sometimes talk to each other on trains, and modern Chinese young folks using the internet to send new years money to their friends as a thing that's happening in addition to the traditional way. 


The second thing is me attempting to explain some confusion I was having with an assignment.



社会调查具体内容。背景调查:信息是从课的内容来的吗?就不算是调查。要搜索吗?不一定算是调查,而这样做过。为什么搜索已经写过的题目?是要在路上问别人?:( 如果这样的话,就面临下面的问题。我有三个不同的方式来明白这部分,三个方式都包括问题。


Sunday, March 2, 2014


Here, have a thing I wrote in Chinese. It came about partially from my thoughts still running around after my new tutor suggested that I'd "walked out of autism" (I think that's their equivalent of "emerged from autism") and partially from a new phrase we learned in class: 非此即彼=either/or, two choice.

(No, I have no clue how the tutor came up with the idea that I was somehow recovered or whatever, considering that I was not capable of speech at the time and therefore typing to him instead. But he didn't argue when I explained at the time why the idea made no sense and was a bad idea.)

I don't know if/when I'm going to translate this one into English, because I've said all the content before just maybe not in these exact words. If I do, I'll edit to link here. Title means "Walking out of autism? A meaningless concept."