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

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

#AAC Awareness Month

It's apparently AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) awareness month all October.

I'm a big fan of AAC. I'm not a big fan of it being considered alternative, rather than just being one more equal way of communicating. I don't much like the idea that it should be an alternative, because that suggests that if you can use "typical" communication, then you should. My oral speech sounds pretty good, superficially, so people tend not to realize just how much I'm not able to do with it.

For example, there's a thing called "fluent in requesting." What this means is having good use of the grammatical structures involved in asking for things. I want, can I have/borrow, could you please, etc. Or in Chinese, 我想要,请给我,可以把————借给我吗?,你能做, and quite a few more. Yeah, I know the words to ask for stuff in two languages.

I usually can't initiate a conversation where I'm actually going to ask for something in either. What I can do is type the request.

Or if I'm having a problem. Maybe I'm overwhelmed. Maybe I feel sick. Even though I know all the words to explain what's going on, again in two languages, I probably can't tell you orally in either. But I can type to explain exactly what feels wrong, and possibly how to fix it. That's a big difference.

It's also something I would never have the ability to communicate if I didn't have access to typing. (For things at a distance and for writing school reports, I've had this for a while, because typing is expected/accepted in both those contexts. For face to face communication, I've been typing part time for about two years, maybe two and a half? I started using writing to cover some of that space before typing, but my handwriting is terrible and if I want my computer to say the words for me I should type it rather than hand write anyways.)

Because of how much typing to communicate has helped me, even though I'm not the picture of a "typical" AAC user most people probably have, I really do support more people knowing about AAC. I'm a big fan of folks knowing that some people type or use picture cards or apps to communicate, and a big fan of folks knowing that some ADULTS do this at least part time.

The adults bit is key too. Most of the AAC awareness stuff that I have seen is parents writing about their kids, professionals writing about the technology they use or the kids they work with, that sort of thing. Very little is actual AAC users writing about their own AAC use. (Ballastexistenz is one exception, and Typed Words, Loud Voices is going to be entirely people who type ourselves, but by and large, the promotion is done by adults talking about kids they are close to, not by actual AAC users.)

This means I am in two categories where people tend not to think of AAC: adults, because who ever thinks about disabled adults who are off doing adult things while also acting disabled; and people with some (in my case quite a bit of) oral speech. I don't think I'm actually rare among AAC users for either of these things, or even both at once, but I know that people like me aren't much of the conversation about AAC use. I know there is a lot of pressure for people with speech to use their speech as much as possible, though, even at the expense of actually communicating.

And finally: I'm a big fan of folks thinking about how much communication is typed when we aren't face to face, and wondering why meeting in person makes the typing somehow "different."

Image is of a jeans pocket, with orange background and orange text that reads "I use AAC." It's a profile picture from PrAACtical AAC.


  1. I agree! I use AAC and I can talk most of the time. The difference is in what I'm needing to communicate. 'Can I have some soda?', spoken. 'I think the great debate between a hierarchy of need vs a hierarchy of want should rely on more than just feelings'- that needs AAC for me.

    It's like when I was using a wheelchair for health issues- all the stuff was about people who care FOR people in wheelchairs. Very few things for chairusers to use for themselves.

    Why we can have physically disabled adults but not autistic adults... this still confuses me.

  2. Yes yes yes and yes! I type full time to communicate! (Save in rare special occasions) for me I developed speech late but I ended up giving it up as it actually caused me more challenges and I could never communicate things I needed to, that I can through typing!


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