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, January 30, 2017


Heads up that gender binary stuff is going to be discussed, largely in terms of my reactions to it playing Runescape, an online role playing game. So is dysphoria, both with my actual body and with a digital avatar for the game.

I've played Runescape for quite a while. Long enough that I've watched the graphics change quite a bit. Some of these changes are nice (Priffinidas looks pretty cool. Also, I gave my avatar purple hair and purple wings.) Some are ... not great for me. (The female avatar's chest is quite a bit more noticable than it used to be. Also, armor designs look different based on male vs. female avatars in a way the graphics didn't used to be good enough to support properly.)

In the ideal world, there would be an androgynous option. I don't live in that world. There's male avatars and female avatars. If you use a male avatar, you have shorter hair options (darn), a flat chest (yay), armor graphics that would actually protect your torso (yay), usually facial hair (whatever), and he pronouns (whatever.) If you use a female avatar, you have both short and long hair options (yay), a chest that is definitely not flat (dysphoric), armor graphics that show off said chest (dysphoric), only the new "pirate" beards from a recent event as facial hair options (whatever), and she pronouns (whatever.) "They" pronouns aren't an option, no matter what avatar you're using (darn.)

When I first made my account (and I do still use my original account from middle school), I didn't know I was nonbinary yet. So, of course, I used my assigned gender and made a female avatar. Over time, I started having issues with this. (Hi, dysphoria is a thing.) My original avatar looked a bit like I physically do -- long brown hair, skin that's on the dark side for a white person but still a white person, and a tendency to wear purple. It even had a long braid for a while. As graphics advanced and I became more aware that my problems with the avatar were dysphoria, I made my avatar look less like me. Purple hair not in a braid, purple skin, wings.

But I was still having trouble. Some of the armor options I liked were dysphoric to look at on my character. (Thank blob for cosmetic overrides. I used those heavily, and still do, so the "look" of my character doesn't change when I change the armor I'm wearing. This got me around that problem, at least.) It took me a while to think of "switch the avatar gender" because I'm nonbinary, and that means that a male avatar is still incorrect. However, in terms of the characteristics that show up in Runescape, it's closer. Flat chest for the win. (That's my primary dysphoria issue in meatspace, and it remains so with digital representations.) The pronouns are a question of the usual wrong answer (she) vs. the unusual wrong answer (he) and it's easier for me to be amused by the unusual wrong answer. (They/them/their is a right answer.) And with actual items + keepsake keys, I retain the ability to put my avatar in a skirt. This works so much better.

Friday, January 20, 2017


In dishonor (on you, on your family, on your cow) of the Trumpster fire and his fanfare today, here is something I wrote in the wee hours of the morning on November 9. And remember it's easier to disobey an order that's coming from someone you hold in contempt than someone you respect.


In a country that just chose the open fascist,
Against immigrants, indigenous people, people of color, queer people, disabled people, Muslims, Jews, women,
Many of the above all at once,
(You know, the ones who built whatever greatness America could have laid claim to before)
A Queer Disabled Jew weaves steel rings together,
Preparing their literal armor,
Or their nerdy, LARP-friendly build of the weighted vest.
Take your pick. (It's both.)

Read the rhetoric of action, of movement.
This is a metaphor for protection,
Even more than it's literal.
They (I, this is me, I am the one weaving steel rings while I can't sleep at 3am)
I know full well today's threat is
not a sword or an axe, but guns,
or (tear) gas(lighting) as policies change,
killing slowly with the knowledge that help isn't coming.
Steel rings turn slices into bruises and breaks,
won't stop projectiles,
have no effect on deceptions or laws.
But armor is still armor and it's weight means something.
Yes, this is a metaphor.
It's also something that's happening.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Party Giraffe, Hot Spicy Autism, and Small Acts of NO.

By inclination, I'm a bit of an imp. I will say a true thing (I'm nonbinary) in a slightly silly way, messing with people using truth. ("Good man. Wait. Woman." gets responded to with "still no" followed by "nonbinary, good luck".) This is a character trait, not an isolated incident. On National Coming Out Day, I wrote "I draw cool stuff using straight lines, which is funny because I'm not straight." One day when I was pointing out "typos" on the white board while non-speaking, I was told to "be quiet." So I wrote on the side board, "I didn't say anything!" It was technically true. 

I like puns. (Nonbunnary!) I like satire. (Turn it Down Taupe!) And while I wear many metaphorical hats (mathematician, engineer, graduate student, teacher, Autistic person, "person in the lab who can sew", writer, AAC user, Queer person, culturally Jewish person, "that weird person who doesn't get cold", and on and on), I don't necessarily choose to emphasize the set of hats I have in common with the other people in the room. I tend to emphasize the ones that are most effective for messing with my colleagues, even. See again: bit of an imp.

So of course it makes sense that I would have shirts that say things like "Autistic Party Giraffe" (explanation), "Hot Spicy Autism", "We Are Like Your Child", and "I Love Someone Lacking Autism." Recently, I've started wearing those shirts more frequently. And yes, I can trace this back to the election. 

No, I don't think that wearing my identities on my shirt (or my bag, as I've been known to do) will magically make everything OK. That's not the point. Reading Trump Presidency to be Large-Scale Replication Experiments in Destructive Obedience: Here is How to Resist will help the actual points make sense, though. Even though Milgram's experiments were based on a pretty unrepresentative sample in terms of people generally, it's 1) a decent sample in terms of who tends to have power in the USA, and 2) not the only study that's been conducted, though Dr. Alfano's link on the subject loops back to his own post, presumably accidentally. In any case, I'm not after the "most people obey" information. I'm after the "what did the disobedient do?" information.

Point the first: If you want to be able to refuse immoral expectations later, starting earlier helps. There's not been any orders about wearing snarky autism T-shirts, and I don't expect there to be. Why would there be? But I said expectations, not orders, and there's a reason for that. Preemptive obedience (doing what you expect the authority figure would want before there is an order, or on things too small to ever deserve an order" is a thing, and not doing that would logically fall under refusing/resisting early. So instead of hiding or closeting the identities that an incoming administration wouldn't like, I get more open about them. I get (visually) louder. T-shirts. Flapping and rocking in public. Using AAC as a teacher. Throwing myself conspicuously into a wall at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. There can be no compliance ahead of time, because there should be none later. (As opposed to because I think the ahead of time bits are going to fix things on their own. I don't. They just keep me in a "no, you move" sort of mindset for when I'll need it.)

Point the second: Resist noticeably, and you increase the likelihood that those around you who notice will also resist. I don't want to be alone here. 

Point the third: I'm a Queer Disabled Jew. I may not be near the head of the line of people who'll be victimized, because I am also educated, also have class privilege, and am not Muslim. But I've heard the rhetoric about queer people (including trans people, remember that I'm nonbinary?) and about disabled people. I've seen the antisemitism getting more obvious. Let's not pretend I'm not in that line, even if people sometimes forget. (Read: prefer not to think about it?) So when paying attention to the individuality, to the personhood, of (potential) victims is part of how you make it easier to resist, reminding people I'm on that list seems like a good idea. 

I know myself. I know that, impish nature and all, it took me until I was eleven to figure out, even in theory, that intentional defiance was an option. A special education teacher had to tell me, so I'm not sure how much I can claim to have figured it out. There's a heck of a lot planned that I'm going to need to resist. So I'm going to need all the help I can get. (All the help I can give myself.)

Sunday, January 1, 2017

I'm moderating #USSAAChat: AAC and the workplace!

The US Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (USSAAC) runs a twitter chat on the second Thursday of each month, at 7pm EST. I'm moderating the next one, on January 12. The topic is going to be AAC and the workplace. This is important to me because I'm a teacher (sometimes TA) and I use AAC part time. I know many adults who use AAC, including at work.

I do plan to make a Storify of the chat afterwards. If you would like to participate but do not want to have your tweets included in the Storify, feel free to let me know. You can reach me on Twitter, or you can email me: alyhillary (@) gmail (.) com.

Here are the planned questions:

Q1: Let's start with introductions. Who are you? What is your relationship to #AAC (and the workplace)? #USSAAChat

Q2: What #AAC systems and supports are used in your workplace? (Including by the folks we don't usually think of as AAC users!) #USSAAChat

Q3: What do you consider when choosing #AAC systems to use at work? (vocabulary, grammar support, output methods, other things?) #USSAAChat

Q4: We all communicate in many ways. How do you combine communication methods (including speech) and supports in the workplace? #USSAAChat

Q5: If you could design #AAC systems to use at work, what would you want? (visuals, grammar options, customizability, others?) #USSAAChat

Q6: How could your workplace better support #AAC use? And what is already being done that supports AAC use? #USSAAChat

Q7: I know I missed things. What do you want to say or ask about #AAC in the workplace that I haven't asked about? #USSAAChat