The Silent Wave is a blogger and integrative medicine doctor. She blogs about life “through one female Asperger’s lens” and advocates for the acceptance of all people on the spectrum. Last week she shared some of her personal experiences growing up on the spectrum. This week “The Silent Wave” discusses ways parents can help their child grow to develop a positive autistic identity.
Voices From the Spectrum #23: Liane Holliday-Willey on Late Diagnosis, Conspiracy Theories, and Accepting Differences
Liane Holliday-Willey, EdD is an internationally-renowned author and speaker on autism spectrum conditions, communications, and learning diversity. She often speaks about both her positive and negative experiences living with Asperger’s syndrome while working in a variety of different positions as a university professor, writer, manure scooper, French fry maker, community volunteer, wife, and mother. Her advocacy goal is to help others understand the importance of accepting differences and individuality.
This week Liane shared with us her thoughts on late diagnosis, advocacy approaches, and protecting individuals on the spectrum from harm.
Ms. Simone is the author of 6 books, founder and creator of www.Help4aspergers.com, and the founder and President of The International Aspergirl® Society. Credited with coining the term “Aspergirls”, Simone, along with Liane Holliday Willey, helped bring female Aspergers to the forefront of cultural awareness. She created the first “Table of Female AS Traits” now widely used by doctors everywhere to help identify AS in women and girls.
Simone gives presentations and webinars for professional and personal development and is also a composer, musician, recording artist and engineer, and actor. This week Ms. Simone shared with us her perspective on autism, dating, and her work with the International Aspergirl Society.
Lana Grant is a specialist advisor and advocate for people with autism and their families. Lana has worked within the field of autism for nearly twenty years. Lana specializes in autism and females, particularly pregnancy and motherhood. Her book “From Here To Maternity, pregnancy and motherhood on the Autism Spectrum” was published in March 2015 by Jessica Kingsley publishers and is the only book that focuses on this issue. Lana is a trained birth partner (doula) specializing in supporting pregnant women on the autism spectrum and their partners. Lana has recently contributed to the Scottish Autism Right Click Women and Girls Programme. She is a passionate advocate for female empowerment and speaks for the NAS and other organizations about female issues. She also has a diagnosis of Asperger syndrome.
This week Lana shared with me some of her background and advocacy work for mothers on the spectrum.
Jeanette Purkis is an Autistic author, public speaker, and self-advocate. Jeanette has worked in the Australian Public Service since 2007 and has a Masters degree in Fine Arts. She is the author of three books on Autism. Jeanette has given many presentations including at TEDxCanberra 2013 and presenting alongside Professor Temple Grandin and artist Tim Sharp in Melbourne in 2015. Jeanette facilitates an Autism women’s group and is the 2016 ACT Volunteer of the Year. This week Jeanette discussed some of her background and advocacy work and how to help individuals on the spectrum develop a positive autistic identity.
Caroline Hearst is an autistic autism trainer and consultant from the U.K. who runs post-diagnostic peer support groups for autistic adults. She runs Autism Matters and is the director of AutAngel, a community interest company run by and for autistic people. She also blogs about her autism perspectives at http://www.autismmatters.org.uk/blog.
This week Caroline shared with me her perspective on the neurodiversity movement and autism advocacy both in the United States and the United Kingdom. This interview was conducted via Skype and is transcribed below.
Sarah Hendrickx is an independent specialist consultant and trainer in Autism Spectrum Conditions. Sarah is autistic with a late diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome in her 40s. She has a lifetime of personal experience of autism, its mental and physical impact and how to live with it and shares this during training along with her professional expertise.
She travels internationally and has delivered over 1000 autism training sessions and speaks at conferences worldwide She has also worked with more than 200 autistic individuals as a coach and consultant in care, schools, relationships and employment. Sarah has written 6 books on autism and related conditions. She was featured in a BBC Horizon documentary on autism.
Ron Sandison works full time in the medical field and is a professor of theology at Destiny School of Ministry. He is an advisory board member of Autism Society Faith Initiative of Autism Society of American. He recently published the book A Parent’s Guide to Autism: Practical Advice. Biblical Wisdom.
1. Read a blog authored by an autistic person.
This is an important step in hearing the voices of people on the spectrum. You will see how they are self advocating and what you are doing to either help or hurt their cause. I guarantee you will learn something.
2. Change your language.
The language of advocacy can have important consequences on your overall message. For example, learn about the difference between person-first and identity-first language and how the autistic people in your life choose to identify. Also be careful about using words like “cure” or “fix” or any language that only references what is negative about autism.
3. Purchase autism neurodiversity gear.
Sometimes a spark for change begins with a simple conversation. An easy and unobtrusive way to encourage conversation is by sporting neurodiversity gear. The colorful autism puzzle piece symbol is too vague (and even offensive to some) to promote autism acceptance. Instead, try finding promotional items specifically mentioning neurodiversity or autism acceptance.
4. Learn more about stimming and why it’s important.
Many parents and therapists aim to correct harmless stims in an effort to make an autistic person appear more “normal.” But these stims serve an important purpose in helping people on the spectrum regulate sensory input and organize functional behavior. Discouraging stims is often counterproductive to teaching desirable behaviors.
5. Visit autismacceptancemonth.com and sign the pledge for autism acceptance.
The pledge asks people to advocate only in panels, for organizations, and at events that meaningfully involve autistic people.
6. Read The Spoon Theory.
This article by Christine Miserandino helps depict the daily fatigue disabled people experience. This portrayal helps nondisabled people better understand and advocate for the needs of those on the spectrum.
7. Read the Loud Hands: Autistic People Speaking anthology.
This anthology will open your eyes and ears to the voices of people everywhere on the spectrum. It is written entirely by autistic people and discusses a variety of different advocacy topics.
8. Visit the ASAN website and learn more about their mission.
ASAN is an organization aimed to improve disability rights related to autism. They offer advocacy resources to improve personal independence as well as advocate for policy changes on a national stage. Their motto is “Nothing About Us, Without Us!”
This is ASAN’s first published ebook. You’ll hear essays focused on autism acceptance and respecting the dignity and voice of everyone on the spectrum.
10. Review the resources for parents at autismacceptancemonth.com
This website has loads of resources neatly organized into categories for parents, self-advocates, educators, and employers. Acceptance begins with reading and understanding more about the experiences, capabilities, and desires of those on the spectrum. This website has a variety of resources to serve this end.