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.
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…
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: