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About That “Coming Avalanche” of Autistic Adults…

Greg Love ageofneurodiversityblog.wordpress.com Waves in Santa Cruz, California. © Wonderlane, Creative Commons [image: Ocean waves breaking on a rocky shore.] It is currently autism “awareness” month, that time of year when autistic people are told that they are costly and burdensome, that they ruin families, and—even worse—that they’re growing in numbers (oh, the horror.) A petition has even circulated, since Donald Trump took over the White House, claiming autism must be declared a “public health emergency.” While these ideas remain disturbingly common, some parents are changing their tune, albeit unfortunately not in ways that actually diverge from “awareness.” Nowadays, parents and professionals are increasingly alarmed at the incoming “avalanche” of autistic adults who will be ill-prepared for the lack of services and supports after high school. It is true that the world scarcely cares to accommodate the support needs of autistic adults—yet at the same time it can no longer…

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Elizabeth Bartmess Interviewed on autchat, Autistic Community, and Autism in Fiction

Elizabeth Bartmess runs the autistics-and-cousins autchat discussions on Twitter, and also writes and critiques autism-themed fiction. We talked with Bartmess about why autchat matters, sometimes in surprising ways, and also about why “‘Autistic character learns empathy’ is the character arc I most wish would go away.” Elizabeth Bartmess [image: photo of a white person with short light brown hair and glasses, smiling.] Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism: Tell us about autchat. What is it, exactly?  Elizabeth Bartmess: Autchat is a Twitter hashtag by and for autistic people and “autistic cousins”—people who have similar experiences due to other disabilities like hydrocephalus, cerebral palsy, ADHD, etc. We welcome people whether they are formally diagnosed, self-diagnosed, or wondering whether they might be autistic or similar. We have weekly hour-long chats on our experiences, with topics such as  accommodations, burnout, and sexuality. During a chat, the moderator asks 4-5 questions and participants answer them.…

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What Happens to Autistic People in Prison?

What happens to autistic people in prison? We spoke with Clare Hughes, the Criminal Justice Coordinator for the United Kingdom’s National Autistic Society, about the unique experiences of and considerations for incarcerated autistic people. Clare has been leading on the NAS’s work expanding its accreditation programme to police forces, prisons, and probation services. Note that while some discussed issues are UK-specific, many can be generalized. Photo © Dave Nakayama/Creative Commons license [image: Prison cell bars, with the background cell itself slightly out of focus.] Clare Hughes: We don’t know how many autistic people there are in prison in the UK: information about people diagnosed with autism isn’t collected routinely for the general population, let alone for prisoners, and many will be undiagnosed. HM Young Offender Institution (YOI) and Prison at Feltham diagnose young people in the prison, if they are there long enough. In February 2016, they identified that 4.5% of…

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Hey Parents of Autistic Kids: Here Are Five Big, Avoidable Mistakes

Shannon Des Roches Rosa www.squidalicious.com Resting after a long hike. Photo © Shannon Des Roches Rosa [image: White teen boy with short brown hair, seen from behind, sitting on a hilltop bench overlooking an ocean.] If you’re the parent of an autistic kid, you probably get advice thrown at your head from every angle, all day long. You may even be all done with advice. And I hear you, because I am you. But I also have had the great good fortune to be connected with some of the most insightful autistic and autism professionals and thinkers on this planet, who have transformed my parenting approach completely, and to the benefit of my teen son Leo, as well as myself. 

 As I have become increasingly devoted to “learn from my mistakes, so you don’t repeat my mistakes,” here are five bonks I made during the early years of parenting…

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When You Are a Personal Assistant, and a Disabled Person Is Your Boss

Amanda Forest Vivian adeepercountry.blogspot.com I am a direct support worker, although there are many words for what I do. To people not involved in Disability World, I often describe my job by saying, “I take care of someone who is disabled.” I don’t really like to say this, but not everyone is coming from the same place and understands the same language. My job title is Personal Assistant, which I like. I think direct support work should be viewed as assisting a person who is your boss, not taking care of someone passive. It’s important to keep in mind that there isn’t one way to be a support worker. At one point, I was steeped in a certain view of support which was that it was totally inappropriate for support workers and their bosses to be close friends. A worker should just be like a robot that brushes your teeth,…

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Autism Acceptance Day & Month: Do This, Not That

Rainbow Clouds by RoseFireRisingCreative Commons License [image: Second Life screenshot: panels of clouds joined by a central axis, with each a different color of the rainbow.] Welcome to April, that wonderful month of northern hemisphere spring blossoms, less wonderful seasonal allergy attacks—and “Autism Awareness.” Here at TPGA, we have a long tradition of skepticism about Autism Awareness material. We are not being party-poopers; we focus on Autism Acceptance instead. Why? As we noted last year: “Acceptance means autistic people matter. Awareness just means we know autistic people exist.” We realize many who agitate for autism “awareness” are sincerely trying to do good work. But too many people hijack April to spread negative messages about autistic people, or claim that acceptance is about “complacency,” while others co-opt language that makes them look like they’re on the side of autistic people: The chest-beating gorilla of autism awareness, Autism Speaks, is making their April…

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How Apple Is Honoring World Autism Acceptance Day and Month

How excellent to see major cultural influencers like Apple honor Autism Acceptance during April, like this an Apple announcement about the month’s strategy and events, and descriptions of the apps in their Autism Acceptance Collection—including some excellent app discounts: From Apple: Sunday, April 2 is annual World Autism Acceptance Day, which kicks off Autism Acceptance Month. One in 68 U.S. children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) according to the CDC. Since we introduced iPad in 2010, we’ve heard from many parents, children, adults and therapists that iPad has been a key communication tool for Autistic people. And there are now some wonderful apps for Apple Watch as well, such as Proloquo4Text which now not only offers the ability to show your message to your communication partner, but version 3.1 also allows you to speak the message aloud right from your Apple Watch. But perhaps even more moving…