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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.

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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, November 1, 2016

Silence of Absence

This Autistics Speaking Day, I had to leave the electrical engineering lab I'm a TA for early. It wasn't the professors fault, or the fault of my students, not at all. I did lose speech before I exited, which was literal silence, but that's not an issue. I've helped run lab without speech before. I'm pretty good at making myself understood without speech -- I type quickly, I can write by hand with pen on paper, and as long as you don't incorrectly presume that autistic means no body language, I'm not actually all that hard to read.

This was not the same as the time I successfully ran lab without speech. That day, speech wasn't working because of an event that took place prior to lab. The event was a one-off, not something that continued. This time, the cause of speech-kaput was in the lab. Or below it, to be precise. There's construction going on in the engineering area, including inside some of the buildings. One of the places that currently has loud construction is ... right below the computer lab, where we were meeting. There's apparently also explosion testing near the lab? Bad placement. That meant that the cause of speech-kaput was in the lab. It was also ongoing. If the cause were a one-off event in the lab, I could keep working. I'd be interrupted once, then go back to work and stay working. However:

  • Each round of noise (honestly pretty short) was painfully loud, interrupting me and making me jump.
  • The amount of time between rounds was unpredictable. Sometimes we'd get several in a row, quickly. Sometimes there'd be enough time to start working again, be concentrating on something, and then get interrupted again. Never enough time to fully recover, but sometimes enough to try working again.
That's a bad combination, and I lasted about half an hour ... of a lab session that's typically three hours. 

After I taught lab without speech, I felt good. Not great, because I was still reeling from the effects of the event that made me lose speech in the first place, but good. I'd done what needed doing, and I'd shown myself that I could teach without speech. 

After I had to leave lab today, I didn't feel good. All too often, autistic people are silenced in conversations about autism by never even getting to be a part of the conversation. It's hard to have a voice (mouth-sounds or otherwise) when absent. And I was absent, because presence was inaccessible. I was silent in an entirely different way than when I was present, literally silent, and still teaching. 

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting this. I deal with similar noise/speech issues, and it was nice to read something validating that puts my experience into words.

    I'm sorry you're going through this, and I hope that things improve for you soon.

    *scampers off to read more blog posts*


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