August 28, 2013

#WondrousWednesdays - Yes, That Too

This Wondrous Wednesday I'd like you to meet Alyssa. Without further ado, I'll let her speak for herself:

I'm a 20 year old Autistic person as I write this, though I'll be 21 by the time this gets posted since there are no Wednesdays between now and my birthday. I will also be either in China or on my way to China. [I'm a triple major- mathematics, mechanical engineering, and Chinese are the majors.] I'm initially from the New England area, and I never really left except for the whole study abroad thing. My personal blog is Yes, That Too, which also has FacebookTumblr, and Twitter existences, and I seem to acquire other blogs as I go. I've got posting privileges on We Are Like Your ChildAutistics Speaking DayAutism Positivity Flash Blog, and probably some others I forgot, plus I ran a few flash blogs where I'm an admin. Oh, and I attempt to run a business called Because Patterns, though cards are all I ever really manage to sell. Yes, That Too is a whatever-I-want blog, and it's been pretty heavily disability for as long as I've had it.

I've worked as a grader and/or classroom assistant with the Art of Problem Solving since I graduated high school, which has been great. I've also tutored and graded on and off at my college's math department (good,) worked at the information technology help desk (terrible because it made my phone anxiety even worse,) and done research in nanotechnology (really, really cool but also slow.) 

 What is your biggest challenge with your disability?
People's reactions when I tell them I'm Autistic might actually be the most challenging thing about it. I wish I were joking, but... yeah I think that might be the hardest thing to deal with. I get insistence that I'm not really autistic, demands that I call myself a person with autism instead of an autistic person (totally fine being asked why I have a given language preference, but telling me I can't have it is bad,) and people starting to talk to me like I have an intellectual disability (bad because of the way people talk to people with intellectual disabilities, not because of some idea that I'm better because I have a higher IQ or whatever.) Oh, and every disagreement ever is now because I'm autistic and don't really understand. I guess that means my biggest challenge from being Autistic is ableism.
What is the greatest gift from your disability?
I have to choose only one? :(
I don't know if "immunity to culture shock" or hypergraphia/hyperlexia is the one I should pick. I'll go with the hypergraphia/hyperlexia, since immunity to culture shock is a nice application of an impairment and the hypergraphia/hyperlexia means I don't need to edit my papers for school and I can blog daily.

What’s one thing you want people to know about your disability that many don’t seem to understand?
Autistic people are people. Like, I know it seems simple enough, but I think that's really at the root of a lot of the problems I run into: people seem to have this idea that if I'm Autistic, I'm not quite a real person, and I think that's why they think a lot of the stuff they do is OK. [I think reminding folks of this fact is where person-first language started out, and if it worked I'd probably like it a lot more than I do.]

alyssa au artwork black and white pattern geometric shapes
A work of Alyssa's Art
What has been the best part of maintaining a blog?
Well, writing is the way that I process things that happen. If I don't write, it's hard to process, and if I don't have a thing that I want to do with the writing, it might not happen. So blogging helps me process stuff, both my daily life stuff and rest of the world stuff.

What is a typical day like in your life?
That's super-dependent on time of year and such, since college vs. summer makes a huge difference. Over this past summer, it's been get up, get on computer, read what all happened on Facebook and Tumblr since I went to sleep earlier than everyone else, if I see anything I want to write about I do. Then I eat food, and I'll either read other stuff or fool around on the internet or work on any of my longer projects. Those include a book about Tamora Pierce's work and neurodiversity, a paper on the erasure of Queer Autistic people, and getting ready for China. I'll move around between those things, plus I'll eat a couple more times. If it's a day that I assist class, I'll log in around 7:15-7:20pm and I'll go to sleep soon after class ends. In China I'm not sure what the typical day is going to look like.

What’s your favorite pastime?
I really like playing Ultimate. 

What’s your favorite food/drink?
That totally varies by day. Whatever I'm craving at the moment, which tends to be noodles or pickles or chicken legs. I also really like hot tea with a little bit of sugar and a lot a bit of milk.

What’s a question I should have asked about you?
That's super open-ended, and I am not actually able to make my brain give me an answer. Certain kinds of questions can send me into a cognitive mess, and that's one of the questions that does it. So I guess I'll just point out that there are other A/autistic people who have this kind of issue instead of answering. 

Anything else you’d like to share - a tip, words of wisdom, a recipe, a poem?
Really think about your goals. Ask yourself: Am I doing this because it helps me do what I want to do, or am I doing this because I think it's expected? [Ask yourself something similar when it comes to therapy/education for disabled kids- is it to help them do what they want to do, or to make them look less disabled? Those aren't the same thing.]

Would you like to recommend other bloggers my readers would be interested in reading or whom I should interview?
I don't think any of them would be game for interviewed, but Amy SequenziaAmanda Baggs, and Neurodivergent K are people I think are really good to read.  

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