The other day, I was tweeting about this question of “can the (autistic) subaltern speak?” when one thing hit me that hadn’t occurred to me before:
If I’m going down this road, I have to be professionally “out” about my autism.
There is no way to make with integrity the claims I’m going to make and continue to fake neurotypicality, no matter how many formalists insist that the author is irrelevant to the text. An allistic academic making the claims I am about to make risks being heard by autistic individuals as “just another” voice talking over the very people it intends to liberate into speech.* And I am, for probably-obvious reasons, very sensitive to the problem of talking over the subaltern.
Also, I suck at lying.
But I occupy a weird liminal space as well. I’m autistic (there, I said it), but I’m also hyperlexic and pretty good at faking allistic social interactions via scripts, like a lot of autistic women are.** Am I an example of the (autistic) subaltern, and if so, just how subaltern am I? If the subaltern cannot speak, what am I? What the hell do we mean by “speak,” anyway?
And then I tweeted basically that, on a public Twitter feed that like all public Twitter feeds is being indexed by the Library of Congress and probably also read by the NSA. So there; I said it twice.
I hope the NSA likes cat photos.
*I’m sure there are several ways to interpret that phrase.
**If you’ve noticed that this paragraph carefully avoids the phrase “high-functioning,” please treat yourself to a biscuit. The “high-functioning”/”low-functioning” nexus/melange/cluster**** is at the core of my thoughts on this subject.