Today, I presented at the Intersectional Infinity Summit. Twice, actually.
First, I talked about "Exploring AAC as a Student & Educator--Communication Access & Accommodation." Then, I was on the panel, Why Autistic Acceptance is Essential. Spoken language was working for me at the first presentation, but not at the panel, which I think is kind of funny because it meant I used AAC for the presentation that wasn't about AAC.
Because I used AAC for the panel, I have a record of everything I said during it. That's below, but slightly out of context:
My name is Alyssa. My pronouns are they, them, theirs. I am a white human with dark brown hair in front of a blurred background.
I am at yes underscore that too on Twitter. I can speak some of the time but not all of the time. I use augmentative and alternative communication when speech does not meet my needs.
I am definitely autistic and aphantasiac. I may be neurodivergent in other ways too.
If a question is addressed specifically to me, please wait. If it is addressed to multiple panelists, someone else can go first while I type.
I sometimes call April “autistic hell month.”
I do my best to ignore April. Last year my dissertation defense in April kept me busy. I could not pay too much attention to Autistic hell month because I was too busy trying to become Dr. Zisk.
This year I have a survey active during April so I do not get to ignore it. We started sharing it before April because I knew many autistic people would be too tired to participate once April got underway.
(BTW, the survey: Words matter. What words do you prefer when talking about AAC and the people that use it? Fill in this survey and tell us your preferences. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/3NMXCHG
You can also help by sharing the link to the survey.)
If you are thinking about doing an awareness event but do not know where to find autistic experts to help you do it right or do not have the budget to hire one, remember that there is the option of Not Doing An Event.
I prefer resources that treat neurodivergent characters as human characters who do things for human reasons. Learning to understand the actions of different others and their reasons through stories is possible, if the stories give reasons beyond 'because they are broken in this named way.'
If you read a story about a person who acts for reasons, it’s easier to understand that story if you 1) might have similar reasons for action, and 2) would get similar effects from similar actions. Both conditions can be violated in cross-cultural communication and in cross-neurotype communication, but you can still try.
No amount of evidence that an intervention can achieve a goal I do not have will magically turn into evidence that it can achieve the goals I do have.
I think about connections between cross-neurotype stuff and cross-cultural stuff: we can learn how to do cross-neurotype communication better from the parts of cross-cultural communication that are done well. And we can see that the problems are not unique to neurodivergent people.
I noticed overlap between my experiences studying abroad and my experiences as an autistic person. However, I got more leeway for my differences when studying abroad than when people assumed it was all about autism. This is common for white neurodivergent people.
We know we're different. You get a say in how we understand that difference, but trying to pretend we're the same won't go well.