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, July 28, 2014

On Knowing

There are parents, apparently, who don't tell their autistic children about the diagnosis because they are afraid their children will be bullied. That's not going to work, and depriving people of useful knowledge about themselves in a failed attempt to protect them from something else is just a really bad idea.

I understand the fear of being bullied. I really do. I was bullied, as a kid. A lot. Not as continuously or as obviously or as physically as, say, Neurodivergent K, but I was bullied. All through third grade, there was a pair of kids who would spend the entirety of chorus meetings using my literalism and dislike for errors against me and then call me ret*rded. They would step on my feet when they had the chance, too.
A teacher actually hit me with a book that year, too, because I was clumsy and hit my head on the slanted ceiling every day.

Everyone made fun of me for my really, really bad hiccups too. They'd insist that my hiccups making my jump was a purposeful thing "for attention" as opposed to something that... well, hiccups still sometimes make me jump. Part of that is my startle reflex, also a target for the bullies, and part of that is that the diaphragm is a strong muscle! Also my medical history does include a rare thing where the other people with it got really bad hiccups. Like, this is not me trying to get attention. There are better methods, like doing algebra at you while being nine. Hiccups just suck.

Here's the thing: this wasn't the result of me knowing I'm autistic. It wasn't the result of my parents knowing I'm autistic. It wasn't the result of my teachers knowing I'm autistic. It wasn't the result of my classmates knowing I'm autistic. I know this for a very simple reason: No one knew I was autistic. No one. Didn't stop the bullies.

Things actually got better once people knew, particularly once I knew but really it was people in general. My classmates this year were supportive and told me things like "My presentation has a video in it, bring headphones to class just in case" ahead of time. My teachers were supportive and told me things like "Email what you wrote to me after class" when speech goes kaput and I start typing instead, but don't actually ask a classmate to read it aloud for me.

Not everyone will be that good (they should be, but they won't) when there is a label. But the fact is, autistic people get bullied in ridiculously high numbers because people can tell we're different and decide that's an acceptable thing to prey on. That happens with or without an official label for the way that we're different. The label and the lack of a label can both be used as excuses for the bullying and the general terribleness, but neither is the actual problem. Telling us that we're autistic isn't going to make the bullying worse. (If our teachers are sufficiently terrible, telling them might make it worse, but telling us? No. That won't make it worse.)

1 comment:

  1. I think people are actually less likely to bully someone when they know their behavior is due to a disability, because we have a culture where picking on someone for a disability is seen as a bad thing to do (and for some reason, picking on people without disabilities isn't seen as bad). It won't stop all the bullies, especially when the disability is invisible and they can pretend it's not real, but it does stop many of them. For example, children with Down Syndrome are rarely bullied, even though in mainstream classes they tend to be unpopular, because everyone can see they have a disability.


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