Voices From the Spectrum #19: Lana Grant on Advocating for Autistic Mothers

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Lana Grant

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.

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10 Things You Can Do Today to Support Autism Acceptance

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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!”

9. Read “And Straight on Til Morning: Essays on Autism Acceptance.”

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.

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Autism Self-Advocacy Resources

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The Autistic Self Advocacy Network is an excellent place to begin learning about autism advocacy and how you can help your young or adult child develop self-advocacy skills. They have a variety of different books, articles, and videos celebrating autism acceptance and promoting social change. Check out their Resource Library for a comprehensive list of resources.

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