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Autism Acceptance Month 2014: Femi Ajala

This month we’re asking our autistic community members What Do You Want? What Do You Need? We’ll be featuring their answers all April long, right here. Today we’re having a conversation with autistic advocate Femi Ajala. Please read, listen, and share. What are some things you like people to know about you? I love music a whole lot, and my dream is to become a successful music producer. I tend to stress and get anxious about certain upcoming events. I also unfortunately and easily get distracted, which takes it a while for me to get on task. I overthink a lot, which leads me to not paying attention to what’s currently going on in my environment as opposed to what’s going on in the tornado that revolves with thoughts, fears, and “what-if’s” in my mind. I try to combat my stress and anxiety by doing weight training and cardio. This…

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Autism Acceptance Month 2014: Amy Sequenzia

This month we’re asking our autistic community members What Do You Want? What Do You Need? We’ll be featuring their answers all April long, right here. Today we’re having a conversation with autistic advocate Amy Sequenzia. Please read, listen, and share. What are some things you like people to know about you? That I might need a lot of help with things that are simple and easy for most, but my activism begins in my brain, and my brain is accessible only to me. What are some things that make you happy? Why? Acceptance of who I am, because I should not be required to wait to be welcomed in the world, yet that’s the reality sometimes. Smiles make me happy too What are some things you avoid whenever possible? Why? Conversations about autism that don’t have Autistic voices because these conversations usually miss the point. But I think “avoid”…

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Autism Acceptance Month 2014: Lydia Wayman

This month we’re asking our autistic community members What Do You Want? What Do You Need? We’ll be featuring their answers all month long, right here. Today we’re having a conversation with Lydia Wayman. Please read, listen, and share. What are some things you like people to know about you?   I’m a busy girl! I’m a full-time, online grad student in my fourth semester out of six, so, I should have my M.F.A. in English and Creative Writing (nonfiction) in November of this year. I’ve self-published one book and have another coming out with AAPC. I’ve written for Autism Asperger Digest, Autism Asperger Network magazine, Squag blog, and I have a piece coming out in Wild Sister magazine in May.  I have a lot of intense health issues but they don’t stop me from living and loving my life. I’m totally cat-obsessed, proud aunt of the cutest baby in the…

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World Autism Acceptance Day 2014 and a TPGA Book Sale

It’s World Autism Awareness Day. To many. But to the autistic people we love, work with, fight alongside, parent, and (some of us) are ourselves, it’s instead a day to bust myths, speak out, and try to change the world to be a more autistic-friendly place. It’s Autism Acceptance Day. One of the tools we use to further acceptance and understanding is our eponymous book, Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism. We created our book to be the resource we wished had been there when autism first came into our lives. And because we want that resource in the hands of as many people as possible we’ve lowered the price on the Kindle version of the TPGA book to $2.99, for the entirety of April. Whether you’re a parent, an autistic advocate, or a professional — veteran, or just entering the arena — our book is full of helpful and frank…

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Autism Acceptance Month 2014: Savannah Logsdon-Breakstone

This month we’re asking our autistic friends and community members What Do You Want? What Do You Need? We’ll be featuring their answers all month long, right here. Please read, listen, and share. What are some things you like people to know about you? This is kind of vague for me. Um. The only way I can think to answer this and keep going is to put in my standard bio. I keep one on file because I find it hard to generate one on command, and I edit it sometimes. It makes things a lot easier. Usually I use it for advocacy related things. “Savannah Logsdon-Breakstone is an Autistic adult with multiple disabilities. She started out doing children’s mental health advocacy in Pennsylvania at the age of 12, and has since been involved at both state and national levels in multiple advocacy areas including class, rural, and ID/DD advocacy. …

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Keep Calm and Think Critically: The CDC’s 1 in 68 Autism Numbers

Shannon Des Roches Rosa  www.thinkingautismguide.com Yesterday the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) held a media briefing to announce and discuss readjusted estimates for autism prevalence: 1 in 68 children. But what does that estimate actually mean? Well, that takes some critical analysis, digging, and sifting, which we’ll walk you through, starting with the CDC’s Dr. Colleen Boyle’s opening statement: “CDC estimates that one in 68 children has been identified with autism. This estimate is based on information collected from health and special education records of children who are eight years old and living in 11 communities in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, north Carolina, Utah, and Wisconsin in 2010. These data are from CDC-sponsored autism and developmental disabilities monitoring network. The new estimate exceeds previous overall estimates, roughly it’s 30 percent higher than our last estimate of one in 88 children. To better…

April 2014: What Do Autistic People Want, What Do Autistic People Need?

TPGA traditionally supports April as Autism Acceptance Month. This year, our Autism Acceptance theme is actually a question: What Do Autistic People Want, What Do Autistic People Need? The media does ask questions about autistic people — but it tends to write about autistic people, worry about autistic people, and make books and movies about autistic people — without actually consulting autistic people. If you don’t believe us, try searching the Internet for most autism topics, then observe how outnumbered autistic perspectives are — and how often buried — compared to perspectives on those same topics by parents, professionals, “experts,” or reporters. So we’re using April to ask our autistic friends and community members What Do You Want? What Do You Need? We’ll be featuring the answers all month long. If you’d like to participate, or support your child or loved one in participating, please contact us.

Should Parents Tell Employers About Their Child’s Special Needs?

Anonymous Kids with special needs have, well, special needs. These needs not only present my kid with a lot of challenges; sometimes they mean I need to take unscheduled time off work. (It’s just how it is.) Aside from the time I need for standard IEPs, evaluations, school visits, and the like, my kid has also spent a fair amount of time in the hospital. My kid isn’t the type you leave and say, “be nice to the nurses.” You just don’t do that to a minimally verbal kid with intellectual disability. When my kid is in the hospital a parent has to be there. Which means no work during that time. When my kid was in the hospital, keeping my manager in the loop was not my main priority. I thought leaving a message on his voicemail, such as, “I’m in an ambulance with my son. It’s two AM…

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Advocating for TPGA Principles at the UCSF Developmental Disabilities Conference

One week ago, TPGA editors Shannon Des Roches Rosa, Jennifer Byde Myers, Emily Willingham, and Carol Greenburg spoke as a group at the University of San Francisco’s Developmental Disabilities Conference. It was an honor and a privilege to talk with a group of (mostly) professionals about how we use the power of social media to support our principles and TPGA’s mission, including autism acceptance and civil rights for people with disabilities, evidence-based approaches to autism supports and research, and debunking autism myths and misinformation. TPGA editrixes, post-UCSF session Shannon, who opened the discussion, is TPGA’s senior editor, and the parent of an autistic child. Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism (TPGA) is a book, a blog, and a community. We aim to support autistic people and their families, counter negative media messages and autism stigma, and provide positive autism attitude role models. We created TPGA in 2010 to be the resource…

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Best Autism Conference Ever: The UK National Autistic Society’s Professional Conference 2014

Shannon Des Roches Rosa www.squidalicious.com I had no idea autism acceptance and understanding in the UK were so much more culturally ingrained than in the US. Granted, there is still much work to do, and government cutbacks in housing for people with disabilities continue, etc. But the disconnect was shocking. And, I was told, much of it had to do with the National Health Service covering autistic people’s needs as a matter of course. Families don’t need to worry about paying for autism services; they need to worry about getting their kids and family members and selves appropriate services. As a result, according an American parent friend who lives in Yorkshire, there is much less of the catastrophizing of autism than we see in the States. I witnessed these attitudes and approaches during the National Autistic Society‘s (NAS) Professional Conference 2014 in Harrogate. I saw an effective national autism organization…