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: Hillary, Alyssa. "Post Title." Yes, That Too. Day Month Year of post. Web. Day Month Year of retrieval.

APA: Hillary, A. (Year Month Day of post.) Post Title. [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Alyssa Reads Uniquely Human: Part 6

I continue to read Uniquely Human. I feel like I am repeating myself a lot as I do so. The prior installation in the series can be found here, and the start of the series is here.

Chapter 5 (parts and chapters are 1 off from each other because I did the front and back material first) is titled Emotional Memory. Heads up for discussions of PTSD and of flashbacks. Heads up also that he says this isn't the same as PTSD without really saying why he thinks it isn't.

When Dr. Prizant writes, "Julio suddenly found himself recalling his moments of panic and sharp pain, as if he were experiencing a flashback" (95) I have to wonder how much it's an "as if." A lot of autistic people have PTSD. A lot of autistic people have flashbacks. Some of us have fully immersive memories even when the memory isn't necessarily traumatic (not me, no minds eye over here.) To be clear, I'm not saying Dr. Prizant is wrong to notice the strength of memories. I'm saying that our memories can be even stronger than he's writing.

These memories have effects. I think that the descriptions in "How memories explain behavior" are useful, though there's always that behaviorizing thing. Explanations are given, but it's external detective reasons (he talks explicitly about using detective work to find the explanations) rather than internal motivations, and there's generally an assumption that overcoming whatever the traumatic memory was is a goal. (I think it often is, but sometimes the actual solution is avoid the trigger.)

I like how he discusses that "Anything can be a trigger."
I am very confused by how he thinks "Good job!" and similar praise would be a surprising trigger for anyone who's ever dealt with an ABA or discrete trial type therapist. That's something most anyone who really listens to autistic adults would know. (Unless he's giving it as an example that parents or educators might find surprising? He seemed personally confused as well, though.)

He then turns to PTSD. He says there are differences between what these students are experiencing and PTSD (sometimes I guess) but that there is also overlap (like a lot of autistic adults actually having PTSD!) I guess the "rarely prove as debilitating or intrusive as PTSD can be"(102) leaves space for emotional memory stuff to sometimes be as bad as PTSD, but no mention of the fact that some of us literally actually have PTSD.  Which would totally explain why PTSD research is useful for understanding our issues.

Oh hey a mention of avoiding the triggers as a strategy.

Looking at Amy's story, I don't get how the option of going to the theme park without going on rides isn't forcing her to go? It's still making her go to the theme park even if it's not making her go on the rides...

The idea of explaining exactly what is going on and what will happen so that we know what's coming is a good one.

Not calling things "work" -- I get the logic there, but there are also problems! There is, in fact, a difference between work and play, and a difference between free play and therapy. Not giving someone the words to communicate those differences isn't a good strategy for getting them to accept the one of the two that they dislike. (It's going to contaminate the one they like.)

Making a life that has positive memories in it is also a good idea. (No, really, he suggests this in the closing for the chapter.) It's important to keep in mind what we're going to find positive and fun because it's often not what parents and professionals would expect.

You can find part 7 here.

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