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The Autistic Community’s Concerns Regarding Spectrum 10K and Eugenics Are Valid

By athree23 from Pixabay [image: Photo of a yellow diamond “Dead End” road sign flooded to mid-post and reflected in the water underneath.] A new autism research project, Spectrum 10K, has just been launched accompanied by much media hype, celebrity endorsement, and rhetoric about neurodiversity. It is led by the University of Cambridge (principally Professor Simon Baron-Cohen), in collaboration with the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Wellcome Sanger Institute. Spectrum 10k aims to be the largest genetic study conducted on autism in the United Kingdom’s history, and is trying to collect the data of 10,000 autistic people and their families. We write in personal capacity as concerned autistic academics who research autism in the UK from a variety of fields. While the project’s aim is to help cultivate autistic wellbeing, the main outcome of the project is to generate an autism DNA database, which will likely be used by…

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Autism in Kenya: An Autistic Advocate’s Perspective

M. Kelter, Interviewer theinvisiblestrings.com Content note: mentions of restraint, ableism Netplus Kenya has been hosting an online series of moderated discussions in an effort to address high levels of stigma against people with disabilities there, stigma associated with long-standing cultural practices. This series is called the Watoto Wetu Initiative. It’s next installment is this Saturday, August 28th, and will feature autistic activist Karen Muriuki sharing perspective on the urgent need to minimize life-threatening stigmas so that families can begin improving outcomes and quality of life for autisic people and other vulnerable communities.  I communicated with Karen to ask about this speaking engagement and about the challenge of sharing information in areas where traditional beliefs define how many perceive and react to autistic differences. M: What is the main theme of this event and who is the audience these presentations are intended to reach? Karen: The event is about the need…

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Learning Life Skills or Just Playing a Game? Why Can’t It Be Both? An Autistic perspective on TTRPGs

Shawna Spain twitter.com/LikeSevenSpoon Photo courtesy the author. [image: Woman with braided hair and purple glasses is bent over a notebook with a  character sheet for “Veri Truestone.” There are various dice around her, a rainbow set, a ceramic set, some resin sets and two metal dice in a tiny glass jar. There is a dice vault with rainbow colors, another with wood burning of a map, and then a dice bag with purple fabric.] I didn’t know I was Autistic when I started playing Shadowrun, a table top role playing game. My boyfriend at the time was playing, and I overheard a couple of sessions where they seemed to be telling a collaborative story—and I never heard any arguments or weird pauses, which is how most of my social interactions went at the time. So I asked a lot of questions:  Like, you all agree to the same rules?  Yes, he…

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Wouldn’t You Want to Know If Your Autistic Child Was Being Harmed?

Created by Ezra Katz, Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons [image: Simplified all-black figures of an adult holding the hand of a child while they stand side-by-side, on a yellow background.] Autistic Science Person twitter.com/AutSciPerson I am exhausted by non-autistic parents who: Ignore the experience of autistic people who went through ABA  Say ABA “was never like that” for their child  Assume their child cannot be traumatized long-term because they “seem happy”  Think we’re saying they’re trash parents You can’t speak for your kid. You can’t know what they think, what they feel, and what may have caused them long-term trauma that they’ll have to work through. You. Can’t. Know. That. Right. Now. That’s not how mental health effects from masking and from sensory invalidation work. And then I try to remember that when I’m talking to one parent who is speaking over their kid and their experience, five or ten…

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Field Notes From an Inbox: Four Years of Autistic-Led Advocacy in Canada

[image: Neurodiversity flag at Toronto City Hall, April 2019. Photo by Anne Lesserknaus.] Anne Borden King twitter.com/againstcures twitter.com/a4aontario a4aontario.com In the summer of 2017, five of us launched an autistic-led advocacy organization in Canada, called Autistics for Autistics (A4A). Our mission was to fight for the rights of autistics to have safe childhoods, communication rights, inclusive schools, trauma-free housing, fair employment, accessible health care and community equality. We centred both children and elders in our work, following the UK model. We took a grassroots approach, eschewing hierarchies in favour of a multifaceted strategy, working to make as much change as we could. What we lacked in funding, resources, and relationships, we’ve made up for in vision and persistence. In one of our first meetings with a Member of Parliament, she told us that our group “should just represent the autistic adults,” and leave the matter of children’s rights to Ontario’s…

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We Move Together: A Review of a Wonderful Book on Disability

Cover of the book We Move Together [image: Book cover with an orange background. An illustration of the lower halves of five folks is at the top: A yellow guide dog, a person with brown skin using a cane, a person with brown skin standing with their hand on their hip, a person with white skin and crossed ankles standing with their hand on their hip, and a person with brown skin using a wheelchair.] Review by Kate Ryan We Move Together is a new picture book by a diverse team of authors (Kelly Fritsch, Anne McGuire, and Eduardo Trejos) who have come together to write a love letter to the disability community. It is, in a word, fantastic. It is empowering, it is interesting, it is understandable, it is relevant—I could go on all day about how much I love this book. Unfortunately, as I discovered to my dismay, it…

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Sound Dampening for Autistic People with Auditory Sensitivity

Photo © Jisc InfoNet | Flickr / Creative Commons [image: A small group of people, seen from behind, standing between bookshelves in a library, under a large white suspended sound dampening board.] Autistic Science Person www.autisticscienceperson.com https://twitter.com/autsciperson https://www.facebook.com/AutisticSciencePerson Sound dampening a space, especially at home, can be helpful for a lot of reasons. Many homes have appliances which can emit high-frequency noise from electricity that many non-autistic people can’t hear, but many autistic people can. Further, many autistic people have auditory sensitivity, and sounds can be a reason for sensory overload. Although some autistic people can wear headphones, earplugs, or ear defenders to reduce sound, other autistic people cannot use ear protection because of touch sensitivity around their ears or head. Further, autistic people who have auditory sensitivity and/or hyperacusis have to constantly try to shield themselves from noise to reduce fatigue, pain, and sensory overload.  Having a space at home where…