"I am non-speaking, I am happy and I communicate. I do not want to speak, I want to be respected."
Written by Amy Sequenzia
A couple of weeks ago someone read my article “Being Happy” and wrote a comment on Facebook. This person seemed to believe that I must want to speak, that I would be much happier if I could speak. I did not read the comment, I only heard about it. I cannot verify the exact words because the comment is not available anymore.
But I can say this: I don’t know if speaking would make me happier; and no, I do not want to speak.
Happiness, at least my happiness today, has to do with things that I have accomplished in my life, especially in this past year. That’s when I became more active in advocacy, when my articles began being published on line, when I became more involved with my autistic community.
I had never before thought about my life and where I am now in these terms: from ableist to self-advocate.
It might seem strange to think that I could have sabotaged myself into saying things that diminished my life and my struggles. But I did. And I believe this is not very uncommon.
From the moment I began to type until I finally let my voice reveal my real thoughts, I typed stereotypes and misconceptions about myself, about autism, about life as an autistic.
I was a child who had just started to type and some people saw that I had intelligence to be explored. But according to pretty much everyone I was “trapped,” “suffering from this terrible impairment” and “isolated from real life” - I “had autism.”
Mara Fritts is the mother of four, she is diagnosed AS, and she sits on the AWN Board of Directors.
I started Homeschooling when our oldest son was 7 years old, after fighting a school system that would not listen to my pleas that there was something different about him. I saw it. Why didn't they? Why did they say that our son was normal when his teacher said there was something different with him? I saw him as being alone and not understanding why he was having issues at school. Why didn't all the children throw gravel at other students when they were frustrated ?
When our son was 5 years old, he started Kindergarten in a private school. They said that he was too immature, so they put him into the preschool. Our psychologist at the time said our son has Attention Deficit and Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) and that he needed additional observations. We were told the public school would also do testing on him, so we sent him.
From the beginning, we had issues with getting the school to observe our son. They were supposed to look at him at the beginning of the school year. After several months of not hearing anything and many phone calls, they finally had the Occupational Therapist (OT) and the school psychologist look at him. They said that everything was normal. His homeroom teacher, who was a former resource teacher, disagreed with this. She helped us place him in a behavioral program from the local university. It was the only help she could offer. It was based on rewards, but he wasn't really interested in earning anything. Over that summer, our son went to a private OT to help with the hand weakness and balance issues that his pediatrician diagnosed him with. The balance issues were something else that the school missed.
Second Annual Autism Acceptance Event Making a Difference!
Paula C. Durbin Westby is leading the way into a month which many autistic advocates dread. Why?
Written by Sharon daVanport
Most awareness campaigns have little to do with supports to benefit autistic adults, and it's become increasingly difficult for many self advocates to breathe through April's superficial autism frills. Is there anything to look forward to in the month of April?
Within the autism community, April has always been known for it's one buzz word, "awareness." Not anymore. Now you will see a new kind of confirmation which helps many in our community not feel the dread of the empty campaigns that hold little value toward helping autistics and their families. What is it? One word. ACCEPTANCE. On April 2nd, and continuing throughout the month of April, autistic advocates and their allies will be spending their time making a new kind of difference by communicating about acceptance, not tolerance and pro-neurodiversity.
AWN Radio, Workshops, and an Invitation Back to the White House
Autism Awareness Month
Today is the kick-off to what looks like a really busy month for the autism community. With that said, please let us know what you or your organization has planned for April, and we will add it to our announcements for our AWN Radio broadcasts throughout the month. Email us at: email@example.com.
We at Autism Women's Network have a busy month ahead, and we are excited to see April arrive in full bloom. First, AWN Radio will increase the number of broadcasts in order to highlight various events, community news, and authors throughout April.
Join us on February 14th when AWN Radio welcomes to the show, Valerie Paradiz, PhD. Valerie is Director of Special Projects at the Autism Research Institute. She was diagnosed on the autism spectrum 7 years ago at the age of 40, and has much to share about being diagnosed with AS well into adulthood, the toll it took on her with respect to loosing jobs, and her attempts at relationships which seemed to inevitably fail. Valerie was married in 2010, and she will share with us on this Valentine's Day broadcast her story of how she found happiness, acceptance, and fell in love.
Each time my self-advocacy is called into question by critics of the autism/neurodiversity movement, I close my eyes & see my mother's smiling face. My mother accepts me for who I am; she "gets me" and that means everything! I often wonder if the autism/anti-neurodiversity parent activists who choose to criticize and verbally attack autistic adults realize that we are someone's child? Have these critics stopped to realize that their child will one day be us, an adult on the autism spectrum?