The College of William & Mary Neurodiversity Initiative

26 Aug
August 26, 2013

I have a lot of things I want (need) to say. And it’s difficult for me because I’m not very good at sharing, or promoting myself or my work - I talked about that here. Of course the fact that I blog and Tweet, have a Facebook page and have written a book run contrary to what I just said, but it’s true. When it comes to autism advocacy, neurodiversity and disabilities rights, I find that what I have to say is important. Not because I’m the one saying it, but because the information needs to be shared. So keeping it to myself is not an option. Therefore I am actively working on getting better at advertising my work.

(i was uncomfortable just typing that last sentence). 

With that in mind, I have something I’m very excited to share and at the same time I wrestle with the idea of sharing it on my blog because it’s about me. As I said, I’m soooo not the type that can easily or comfortably say, “Hey! An article about me, come check it out!” Yet in this instance if I don’t share it, I’m doing a disservice to an organization that I’m extremely proud to be a part of:

The College of William & Mary, Neurodiversity Working Group

A little over a year ago I was asked to serve as Community Liasion to the Working Group and jumped at the chance (to learn more about the W&M Neurodiversity initiative, click here). Prior to that, my concentration - because I have young children - was education at the elementary and secondary levels.

Working at the university level is a whole new ball game and I’m loving it.

Higher Education

It was a long, long time ago, however I do remember my college years. And what stands out most after all this time is the difficulties I had: Sensory, physical and social issues. Being undiagnosed, there were no accommodations – I didn’t realize I needed them. I had always had difficulties in those areas, but in college they increased dramatically causing serious physical and psychological stress. What would it have been like had I had accommodations? Received services? Known other kids like me? Been involved in student groups made up of kids just like me??

I would like to think it would have been easier.

In the scheme of things, the W&M Neurodiversity Initiative is very young, so we have a lot of work ahead of us. But the need for Groups like ours on campuses is imperative to make college more attractive to people with disabilities. I was terrified to go to college… My Mom made me do it!!! (Thanks Mom ;)). My reasoning was that if elementary through high school was so stressful and confusing, how would I ever cope in an academic environment where I was expected to pick and choose from a multitude of classes and majors. To trust in myself to make the right decisions without guidance. To govern my own actions. To go to a new place with all new people. To live with strangers in a dorm?!! Like I said, for me it was…

Terrifying

Educating the Masses

Education is at the core of disability rights, for the sake of this post, neurodiversity. A proper education, including all accessibility and accommodations necessary is paramount. But the education can’t stop with the student, it’s also about educating the community: family, friends, professionals, employers and society as a whole. This is a monumental undertaking and a task of seemingly infinite proportions, but it is being done (check my blogroll), and I consider myself lucky to be a part of it!

With that, I am dedicating this post to the W&M Neurodiversity Working Group on the most awesome occasion of the launch of our Blog!! The very first post was beautifully written by the wonderful Karin Wulf, Co-Chair of the Working Group. And it talks a lot about… me (gulp). And here it is:

 Black and White and Degrees of Difference

10 replies
  1. Ine says:

    *applause* What a marvellous initiative! And Community Liaison sounds like something to be extremely proud of, so go you!

    Reply
    • srsalas says:

      Aww, thank you, Ine!! I’m very excited and so happy to be a part of it. We’re so new, we’re really just getting started, and it’s great stuff :)

      Reply
  2. Jayden Van Canne says:

    Just moved up to college today, I suffer from a few sensory issues regarding touch, particular the feel of things. Right now I’m fighting to gain support from my college and it has been a looong struggle. I think making sure those that educating the masses is key to rights.

    Reply
    • srsalas says:

      Yes, education is key!! And congratulations on college, that’s great!
      Do you have a dx that encompasses Sensory Integration and/or is there someone you can talk to in the Counseling center at your college? Sensory issues are very real (a post I wrote about it: http://srsalas.com/?p=2711 ) and luckily are beginning to garner more serious attention. I’m hoping if you can get the right people, solutions can be found for you. Thank you for reading and commenting :)

      Reply
  3. Steve Borgman says:

    Recently, I had the pleasure of seeing a young man on his way to college (he was diagnosed with autism). I called this major university to find out what kind of support they have for people on the autism spectrum, and was delighted to find that they had just started a peer mentoring program specifically for students on the autism spectrum. It’s so rewarding and hopeful to see what you and others are doing to help educate people about neurodiversity! Think of your “advertising” as sharing the value that you are offering, instead of advertising :) Just a tip that will help you speak about about the wonderful services you provide, both on your blog and in your advocacy work.

    Reply
    • srsalas says:

      Thank you, Steve, as I said earlier, you are Awesome!! I truly appreciate your support and encouragement, it means a lot :)

      (btw… I’m so glad I checked my spam folder, for some reason your comment came across as spam?!! So, if you’ve ever commented before and I didn’t reply, that would be why)!

      Reply
  4. M Kelter says:

    not only is it exciting that this initiative is happening, but it’s even more exciting that you’re the one involved; you bring a perfect blend of understanding, insight and the ability to focus in on the core issues, so this is all terrific news; look forward to reading the new WM neurodiversity blog and watching this all develop. congrats on all of this!

    Reply
    • srsalas says:

      YaY, thanks M!! I really appreciate that. I’m very excited about the prospects! Also, please keep me up-to-date on your writing/posting. I enjoy your writing style and point-of-view :)

      Reply
  5. Barry Kearns says:

    It appears that the article link at William & Mary has been moved to the following location:

    http://neurodiversity.blogs.wm.edu/2013/09/30/black-and-white/

    Reply

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