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Busting Anti-Vaccine Myths While Supporting Autistic People

Shannon Des Roches Rosa www.Squidalicious.com Yesterday I was given the opportunity to head a “Let’s Talk About Autism” discussion for the excellent organization Voices for Vaccines, in order to help vaccine advocates understand how anti-vaccine information can be hurtful to the autistic community, and with the hope that better understanding about autism as part of pro-vaccine messaging will help spread acceptance of autistic people like my son Leo. If you missed the discussion, which was followed by a Q&A, one option is to listen to the Voices for Vaccines “Let’s Talk About Autism” recording. Another is to read the simultaneous conversation on Twitter, which Liz Ditz kindly Storified. Or you could read the below version of the talk I gave, though the live version include some improvisation. This transcript also does not include the Q&A session, though its highlights are covered in Liz’s Storify post. —- I’ve been writing about autism…

“How Do You Not Have Hate in Your Heart?”

One of our autistic community members, who was frustrated with being treated dismissively by non-autistic people, asked us this question via email. Another of our autistic community members answered the question, with both thoughtfulness and strategic advice. The two then gave us permission to post their exchange. We hope readers who are not autistic will show respect by listening, learning, and asking questions if appropriate; and that those who are autistic will find (and share) their own strategies and advice. —- Question for autistic people: How do you not have hate in your heart? I got into a discussion with several people who are not on the spectrum, and was just battered from all sides by ableism, willful ignorance and ad hominem attacks. No one was interested in what I had to say. I was called selfish, stuck up, angry, and expletives I can’t repeat here. I was even told…

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John Robison at IMFAR: On Autism Rights, Ethics, & Priorities

John Elder Robison was a discussant for the Autism Social, Legal, and Ethical Research Special Interest Group at the 2014 International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR). He ended up taking the group to task, stating that the autism science community is headed for disaster if it does not change course on several factors – and noting for context the larger size of the US autistic community in proportion to other minority groups such as Jewish or Native American communities. Mr. Robison asserted that autistic people need to be the ones providing oversight and governance for autism research. He condemned the use of words like “cure.” He pointed out that researchers’ explicit or implicit efforts to eradicate autistic people is a formula for disaster and needs to stop. And he affirmed that memoirs and narratives written by autistic people are more trustworthy than writing about autism by nonautistics. Many thanks to…

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Autism Acceptance Month 2014: Ally Grace

This month we’re asking our autistic community members What Do You Want? What Do You Need? We’re featuring their answers all April long, right here. Today we’re having a conversation with Ally Grace. Please read, listen, and share. A bit about me: I am an autistic woman, and I live in a household full of autistics. My partner, Bart, and my four children, are also autistic. We live in Australia. I love to read and write, and I am a proponent of radical parenting reform and radical education evaluation; especially in regards to autistic children. I have a strong belief in the abilities of all children and adults to be highly motivated and ethical beings, and I dream of a day when more trust is put into our autistic children and adults. My own children are raised without the use of Behaviourism, and without coerced learning. I have an interest…

Autism Acceptance Month 2014: Star Ford: Specificity

This month we’re asking our autistic community members What Do You Want? What Do You Need? We’re featuring their answers all April long, right here. Today we’re having a conversation with engineer Star Ford, whom we spoke with earlier this month about the Ocate Cliffs project. Please read, listen, and share. There’s a lot of stuff out there aimed at or against autistic people — therapies and services — but there is a big disconnect between that and what we really need. The industry churns by its own internal incentives and since we’re generally not paying, we’re not driving — usually not even asked. I think most of us can feel what we don’t like, when an intervention is done to us, and many can also articulate what we don’t like. But fewer people can articulate why we don’t like it, and almost no one can articulate the alternatives. I’ve…

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Autism Acceptance Month 2014: Nick Mediati

This month we’re asking our autistic community members What Do You Want? What Do You Need? We’re featuring their answers all April long, right here. Today we’re having a conversation with technology journalist Nick Mediati. Please read, listen, and share. What are some things you like people to know about you? I’m a freelance editor and writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area, focused primarily on technology journalism. I’m a fairly new member of the autism community, having received an official diagnosis last December, but my discovery process was years in the making. I first learned about Asperger Syndrome when I was in college, and it instantly resonated with me.But at the same time, I remember thinking, “That isn’t really me, is it?” But as I learned more about autism beyond the Wikipedia entry, and learned about all the different ways it can manifest itself, the more I realized…

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Autism Acceptance Month 2014: TH

This month we’re asking our autistic community members What Do You Want? What Do You Need? We’re featuring their answers all April long, right here. Today we’re having a conversation with TH, age 12. Please read, listen, and share. What are some things you like people to know about you? I am shy, so nothing. What are some things that make you happy? Why? Chess and Minecraft. Because they are fun games in my opinion. What are some things you avoid whenever possible? Why? People that I do not know, because I am very shy as you may have already noticed. What features does your ideal living space have, and why? I am not entirely sure, but I like the couch that I am on and the laptop I have. What are your favorite books, movies, and/or TV shows? I like Spongebob Squarepants, the Star Wars franchise, the Indiana Jones…

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Autism Acceptance Month 2014: M. Kelter

This month we’re asking our autistic community members What Do You Want? What Do You Need? We’re featuring their answers all April long, right here. Today we’re having a conversation with writer M. Kelter, who blogs at The Invisible Strings (theinvisiblestrings.com). Please read, listen, and share.  What are some things you like people to know about you? Life is easier when people know my conversational strengths and weaknesses. When I’m around people who know that I generally lack body language … that I may not make great eye contact … and when those people are okay with it, life is good. Other people can misinterpret these traits to mean I’m not listening or not interested in what they are saying, which leads to awkwardness and/or hurt feelings, which is not what I want; so generally I like for people to both know and understand my interaction style. Basically, when that…

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Autism Acceptance Month 2014: Jason Ross

This month we’re asking our autistic community members What Do You Want? What Do You Need? We’re featuring their answers all April long, right here. Today we’re having a conversation with Jason Ross, a self-advocate who thrives on empowering others. Please read, listen, and share. What are some things you like people to know about you? I run Self-Advocacy/Empowerment meetings part-time, helping many people who are autistic, have developmental disabilities, ID, or mental health issues. These people who are residents and day habilitation consumers in New York City feel that they have a voice and the same real choices that everyone else has. I create presentations every week, and curriculum that I try to get everyone to follow to help create a sense of worthiness for everyone. Empowering others really empowers not only them, but myself as well. I also run the Adaptations Facebook page for the JCC in Manhattan…

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Autism Acceptance Month 2014: Matt Friedman

This month we’re asking our autistic community members What Do You Want? What Do You Need? We’re featuring their answers all April long, right here. Today we’re having a conversation with Autistic artist Matt Friedman. Please read, listen, and share. What are some things you like people to know about you? I self-identify as autistic, and am happy to remain so. I work as a grant writer for a national nonprofit organization serving children in poverty. Besides raising funds, I also record and categorize all donations we receive. It’s a role that’s well-suited for my systematic mind. My employer knows I am autistic and lets me know how much my talents are appreciated. Superficially, people would describe me as quiet, polite, and intensely private. Those who care to look beneath the surface have an inkling of my strong convictions, passions, and irreverence. Peer pressure is nonexistent for me. I prefer…