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

Thursday, August 10, 2017

It's kinda funny

So, a few weeks ago I met with two folks from a company that's making a computer game or a video game related to autism and social skills. I agreed to meet with them for a couple reasons:
  • The one I'd met before, I met at a hack-a-thon like event (un-hack-a-thon?) that was autism focused and had many autistic participants, mostly teenagers, and which used Nick Walker's description of autism as a starting point. Starting from a neurodiversity paradigm description of autism is nice, and not something I see much of for technology and autism stuff.
  • The one I'd met also liked the "Autistic Party Giraffe" shirt I was wearing. I find that people's opinions on that shirt are somewhat useful information: folks who comment on liking it are generally able to handle the idea that Autistic identity is a thing without too much worldview conflict.
  • They clearly didn't quite know what "supporting autistic people in finding social methods that work for us" would really mean, but the couple ideas I'd thrown out at Chatter went over well. Things like, if we can get more done by not trying to pass for neurotypical, why the heck is passing for neurotypical considered an optimal outcome? (See Dani's "On Functioning and 'Functioning'," yet again.) 
So, I did the thing. It was exhausting. We met at a coffee place between my campus and the train station on a Friday morning, and we talked for about two hours. They said at the time that what I was saying made sense, and that it changed their perspectives, and now they needed to figure out how to navigate the tangled mess of doing something actually helpful with their game while also getting the needed funding to make the darn game.

One incident that sticks out for me was the demo video of the game. They brought a laptop, and there was a minute or two of gameplay video that I watched. When it first started, there was a big face and eyes right at me. I flinched. Unexpected face in my face! Then there were points where a player was supposed to recognize the emotion that this being was expressing. The emotions were clearly overacted, both in terms of facial expressions and tone of voice. This was supposed to be some sort of "easy" mode, I guess? Whatever. I could tell it was overacted. That didn't mean I could always tell what emotion was being overacted. (Yeah, I got some "wrong.") 

Judging by their reactions to my reactions (how meta theory of mind can we go here?), it seems I served as an object lesson there:
  • Identifying that an emotion is being expressed is not the same as identifying what that emotion is.
  • Managing OK in real-life social situations is apparently not the same as recognizing overacted emotions in artificial settings.
  • Some autistic people will absolutely flinch from unexpected eye contact. Ow.
It's a thing that happened. I was super tired after.