S.R.Salas post @HandicapThis – Is Autism Awareness Enough? “Black and White”

I was asked to guest post on the fabulous Handicap This Blog, and of course jumped at the chance! Heard of them? If not, the following is from Handicap This Productions site:

HANDICAP THIS!

“Handicap This! is a true story that started in 2001 and continues to this day. Mike Berkson and Tim Wambach hope this show will further their message of ‘Judgment Not Allowed’ and inspire all of us to do more with what we have. Handicap This! will stir your senses, challenge your thinking and wake up your attitude. It’s a look at breaking down barriers and living with handicaps – most of all about EVERYONE’S potential.”

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BLACK AND WHITE – A POST ON THE AUTISM SPECTRUM

December 13, 2013

For a more in-depth look at autism read Renée's book.

For a more in-depth look at autism read Renée’s book.

With great pleasure Handicap This! welcomes this week’s guest blogger, Renée Salas. An author (Black and White: A Colorful Look at Life on the Autism Spectrum), writer, and passionate disability advocate Renée gives an insightful firsthand look into autism. Specifically she suggests autism acceptance over simply autism awareness.

*Note to readers: The use of ‘we’ and ‘us’ below refers to family and friends. I do not claim to speak for all individuals on the autism spectrum.

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It’s not hard to find information about autism these days: TV, magazines, books, ad campaigns. Seems like it’s everywhere…

Autism Awareness

Personally I advocate for autism acceptance, but awareness is at least a start. Interestingly enough the majority of awareness I come across is about autistic people, not by autistic people. That’s troublesome to me. Not because the information is wrong (not all of it anyway), but because much of it is being shared about a group of people without their input.

Troublesome indeed

AUTISTIC(LY) SPEAKING

I am autistic. In addition to me, all three of my children have disabilities, my two oldest being autistic as well. I am telling you of my disability because I want you to understand that what I share with you is from an autistic perspective. And that I am truly passionate about disability rights advocacy. While my focus tends towards autism, I am of the belief that in regards to disability rights…

We are all in this together.

WHAT DO I WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT PEOPLE ON THE AUTISM SPECTRUM?

I want you to know that we are not broken. And we are not victims. We’re not looking for a cure because we’re happy the way we are. Yes we are neurologically different from neurotypical (non-autistic) people, but it doesn’t make us wrong. It makes us…

Diverse

For some reason that’s seen as a bad thing and I disagree. I would like to offer another perspective on diversity. One I know by having children with disabilities, friends with disabilities, and by having disabilities myself. That is this. Disability is a natural part of life.

Oh, I like the sound of that.

Instead of a disorder I’d like you to think of autism as a different way of thinking, a different way of seeing, feeling, and experiencing the world.

A different way of being

 

HERE ARE SOME OTHER THINGS I LIKE THE SOUND OF:

Self-Determination (people with disabilities making decisions about their own lives)

Presumption of Competence (believing people with disabilities have knowledge, abilities, skills to do things successfully)

Communication (people with disabilities have a right to communicate through whatever means necessary: speech, sign language, assistive technology, etc…)

Inclusion (the idea that people with disabilities should be part of their communities in all things)

AUTISM ACCEPTANCE AND WHY I ASK YOUR CONSIDERATION OVER MERE AWARENESS

Autism acceptance means you accept the whole person, even those things that seem odd to you or that you don’t understand: stimming, scripting, echolalia, special interests, repetitive behaviors, etc… The things that society has deemed inappropriate and found best to put a stop to so autistic people will “fit in.” So, we will be accepted.

But that’s not acceptance.

That’s denying another person their natural way of being, forcing that person to fit a mold so that others will be more comfortable with them. It’s being made acceptable by others’ standards. That’s not acceptance. That’s reprogramming.

I don’t want to be reprogrammed.

I want to stim because it calms me and makes me feel good. I want to know everything I can about my special interest because it’s fascinating and means a lot to me. I want to bite my nails because it helps relieve my anxiety. Most importantly,

I want to be ME.

And I want to be my ME, the way I was born. And my ME has a difficult time in the world because it is neurotypical by design. So a lot of the behaviors you see that make you uncomfortable: stimming, scripting, echolalia, and so on, are the very things that help me feel comfortable in our non-autistic world.

I want to be the ME I was born to be. I’m not saying I don’t need support or accommodations. I do, and I get that. However I don’t want to change who I am. I don’t want to be reprogrammed. I want to be me, and this ME is…

A U T I S T I C

 

 

Renee Salas

More About Renée Salas:
Renée Salas is a disability rights advocate. She and two of her three children are autistic, making her a passionate advocate for autism acceptance. She is the author of Black and White: A Colorful Look at Life on the Autism Spectrum, is a frequent writer for Autism Parenting Magazine, and blogs at S.R. Salas | Autism Blog.

Renée is also the Community Liaison for the College of William & Mary Neurodiversity Working Group. Her main focus is educating people about life on the spectrum. Her work emphasizes the positives, strengths and beauty found in neurodiversity. You can follow Renée on Twitter @srsalas13 and Facebook.

- See more at: http://handicapthis.com/2013/12/black-and-white-a-post-on-the-autism-spectrum/#sthash.kEZYpjtG.dpuf

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