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, September 26, 2017

"Screen time" and some more patterns

Yet another article about screen time is going around. I swear, those things are everywhere. This time it's Temple Grandin (who gets touted as being an autism expert in general when she's actually an expert in livestock, like cows*) talking about limiting screen time for autistic kids. She's actually more nuanced about it than most - the headline says screen time, and she says it once too, but she does specify what "kind" of screen time she means. Most people don't.

So, here's a bunch of things that get lumped under screen time:

1) I have an ereader. I am reading a book (or a paper related to my graduate studies). On a screen!

2) I'm watching a movie. On a screen!

3) I'm playing Pokemon Go, which involves a lot of walking around, but also it's a cell phone game. On a screen!

4) I'm playing a computer game. On a screen!

5) I currently can't talk, so I'm using FlipWriter on my iPad to communicate with my classmates. On a screen!

6) I'm teaching math. It's an online class, which is great because my ability or inability to speak at the time is irrelevant. My "accommodation" of getting to write or type instead of talking, when needed, is already built in to the system. Still. Where am I doing this? On a screen!

7) I'm using the Internet to talk to a friend who lives across the country. On a screen!

Which of these am I supposed to be limiting? Why are we using one category for all of them, if the answer isn't all of them?

Or, which of these will you admit to having a problem with, versus which ones would you actually like to get rid of? Because I think that's part of the why. If you build a category full of things that you don't like, including some things that it's considered OK to take issue with (video games!), you can get away with talking about the whole category as a problem. Build up the apparent size of the "problem" by including numbers from the parts you need to at least pretend are OK (maybe AAC? maybe online classes?), talk about supposed bad effects from one item in the set (video games?) as if they came from the entire set, and then there's clearly a big problem. Ban or limit the whole category.

I'm thinking back to the pattern I talked about with fidget spinners, or a variation on it: 

1) A disabled person needs something for access reasons.

2) Abled people call the thing distracting, because our existence in public is apparently distracting.

3) The thing is either banned entirely or permitted only for people with the paperwork to prove they need it for disability reasons.

4) Disabled people who need the thing either don't have access to the thing or must out themselves as disabled in order to gain access. If outing oneself is required, the thing is heavily stigmatized.
Instead of being banned because it's distracting to others, it's apparently distracting to us? In any case, the thing is banned or limited "for our own good."

Then what happens?

Whoops, no ereader for you unless you can prove you need it for a disability reason and are willing to out yourself. Spend the money and the space on those paper books! Who cares that they're harder to hold up, or that the electronic version is searchable?

Whoops, no more movies! (You know, storytelling? Acting? It's on a screen, though, so we can't have that.)

Whoops, no more games on a screen! Never mind that some of them involve walking and most of them involve problem solving and that fun matters on its own.

Whoops, no AAC for you unless you have formal documentation of the fact that you need it and are willing to out yourself. Better go back to being silent in class, or maybe not going to school at all! It's distracting to have you here, after all. Or you could try this low-tech system? (Which, to be fair, is most of what I use. Doesn't mean it's OK to make me stick to the low-tech options in the situations where my high-tech, screen dependent options are better.)

Whoops, no more online classes. (Temple actually made this one an explicit exception, so, again, tiny bit of kudos for the nuance, but don't say screen time unless you actually mean screen time because words have meanings.) 

Whoops, no more friends who live far away! Pay attention to the jerk in front of you who thinks screens are the devil.

You only had to admit to taking issues with the video games, but now all this is gone, because you could point to something that many people will take an issue with and generalize it beyond any semblance of accuracy.

*I'm sure she's an expert in what works for her. She basically got pushed to "pass" for neurotypical, which is still what mainstream experts tend to think of as being the "optimal outcome" for autism but is often a recipe for burnout. Now she recommends stuff that makes it sound like she agrees that's the best thing. She also led to the popularization of the idea that "autistic people think in pictures." As an autistic aphantasiac (no minds eye), I'm well aware that's not consistently the case. So, no, I'm not a fan of Grandin.