Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My Contribution To Autistics Speaking Day

Like many people on the spectrum, I wanted to write a blog entry on Autistics Speaking Day which is today.  I had forgotten about it until today and have no preconceived topic of relevance to really drive a powerful post home.  I know many are writing some heavy powerful, well thought out pieces about what being autistic means to them, and more specifically what it feel like to them to be talked about and around like the original November 1st day Communication Shutdown.  I think that perhaps I'll go another route....

I am overjoyed to see this day so prominently displayed across social networks, blogs, and newspapers.  It was not long ago something like this would never have been thought possible.  You simply didn't talk about your differences in front of others if you were on the spectrum, and parents of ASD kids had little support.  When I was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome last year the clinician told me that I should tell people that I have AS that I am in regular contact with.  My first response to that was that she was crazy! I'd never get taken seriously again!  Then she explained to me that my communication differences can look like snubbery, inattention, aloofness, ect.... and that I'd get more compassion from others if I told them.  I tried it.  One of the hardest was my verbal son's IEP team.  They had been running circles around me not wanting to give him the proper supports he needed for his anxiety and other differences.  I finally one day in a meeting got all my courage up and shot down their proposals by telling them they did NOT in fact know better than me about what he needs, because I am also on the spectrum.  There was no comeback to that.... It was silent.  But, they heard me, and despite my fears of being further disregarded, I was listened to.  I began to do the same with my nonverbal son's one on on therapists.  I made my beefs with ABA, and other tactics clear.  I explained to them the reasons why some of us do what we do.  They never knew.  It wasn't that they didn't care (well some didn't but they don't work for him anymore due to that attitude) they just didn't know.  They wanted to know, and were happy to hear.  I spoke, and I was listened to. This was a novel experience, indeed.

I actually felt empowered by other's acceptance, and felt more confident.  I began this blog, and to advocate further for my boys.  I didn't take the attitude from the school 'well, that's just how we do things' because I felt empowered to finally stand up and voice my opinion.  There wasn't that long ago that this day wouldn't have happened.  The cloud of shame and secrecy has began to dissipate around the world over disabilities.  It isn't perfect, or utopia, as so many are still oppressed, and trodden, forgotten about, but it is a start.  I think that while things could be improved we have made enough room in today's society to make those changes, to be heard.  In my opinion, there is not a better time in history to be autistic.