Do you consider yourself an autism advocate? Are you advocating in ways that the autistic community would appreciate? How do you know? Reaching out to the autistic community takes a dose of humility, but that’s only the first step. To what degree and the manner in which we reach out is even more important. The basic seeds of advocacy must begin on a foundational respect for the humanity of individuals on the spectrum.
Alix Generous is a professional speaker, neuroscientist, author, tech consultant, and observational comedian. From 2013 to September 2016, she was the co-founder for Podium (formerly AutismSees), a social impact company that creates technology to help high functioning autistic millennials improve their presentation skills. In her 2015 TED talk, she comedically shares how tech improved her public speaking skills. This week she shared some of her personal experiences growing up on the autism spectrum and the current state of autism-related technology.
Ada Hoffmann is a writer and computer science PhD student who has authored over 60 published speculative short stories and poems and six papers that she has presented at conferences around the world. Ada was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome at the age of 13, and is passionate about autistic self-advocacy. Her Autistic Book Party review series is devoted to in-depth discussions of autism representation in speculative fiction. This week she shared some of her experience reading and writing about autistic characters and advocating for individuals on the spectrum.
Kirsten Lindsmith is an author, artist, consultant, and autism advocate from New York City. After receiving an ASD diagnosis at the age of 19, she began co-hosting the online television show Autism Talk TV and speaking at conferences and events about her experience as a young woman on the spectrum. Kirsten has written columns for Wrong Planet and Autism After 16, and was profiled in The New York Times. Kirsten graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a degree in Vertebrate Ontogeny and Phylogeny. She currently works as a therapist in partnership with Melody of Autism, and as a consultant for behavioral and sensory needs.
This week Kirsten discussed the oversimplification in autism advocacy (classifying it as too positive or too negative), some common misconceptions, sensory sensitivities, and how families can become better allies to people on the spectrum.
Savannah Logsdon-Breakstone has led advocacy campaigns at national, state, and local levels. Savannah is an active member of and social media coordinator for ASAN (Autistic Self Advocacy Network) and board member and current vice president of the PA based SAU1 (Self Advocates United as 1). She blogs at Cracked Mirror in Shalott and writes for many other multi-contributor blogs. This week she shared some of her experience advocating for herself and others on the spectrum, offering practical ideas for parents and educators who want to support their children.
Vera Didenko is an autistic blogger recognized for contributions in both radio broadcasting, from 2001 to 2008, and federal government defense accounting, from 2008 to 2013. Vera blogs about a variety of life issues relevant to individuals on the spectrum and the neurotypicals in their lives at This, That, and Vera.
Jay Avery is a 22-year-old, nonbinary autistic from England. Jay is currently pursuing a degree in Math and Physics while self-teaching Java programming and wildlife photography. Jay blogs about their experience on the spectrum at https://autisticality.com/. This week Jay Avery Rowe shared with us their experience growing up on the autism spectrum and how they developed a positive autistic identity.
Understanding Autism: 10 Reasons Why You Should Prioritize Autistic People in the Conversation About Autism
You’ll find several mentions on this website about the importance of prioritizing autistic individuals in the conversation about autism. But, like anyone, not all autistic people think and believe the same things, so why is this consultation useful? Is it necessary? Is it enough to steadfastly follow the advice of your child’s doctors and therapists? If you think this is enough, you’ll be missing the best piece of the picture to understanding autism (Notice I’m deliberately not using a puzzle piece analogy here for reasons described in this post.). And while it’s important for people to understand that people on spectrum do NOT exist solely to educate others about autism, there are nevertheless numerous autistics willing to share their knowledge in the hopes of better informing families and society about autism (and some make their living doing so). They write and speak regularly about their experiences.
Below are 10 reasons why you should engage with autistic individuals and include them in the conversation about autism (identifying symptoms, useful therapies, supports, describing personal experiences, and how it should be addressed in society).
This post was originally published on Amy Gravino’s blog on February 28, 2016. Amy Gravino is a Certified Autism Specialist, author, autism consultant, and public speaker. She runs a private consulting business in New Jersey called A.S.C.O.T. Coaching. She is an autism consultant and college coach for individuals on the spectrum and also advocates for autistics through her work as a member of Autism Speaks’ Awareness Committee and the Self-Advocate Advisory Board for the Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation. Amy speaks regularly about autism and sexuality and has written a book relevant to this under-addressed topic, a memoir titled The Naughty Autie.