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Parents, Do Not Infantilise Your Teenage and Adult Disabled Children

Finn Gardiner expectedly.org Photo © G_Jewels | Flickr / Creative Commons [Image: Black infant in a wooden high chair, being spoon-fed by an off-camera adult.] If you’re a parent of a teenage or adult child with a disability, it’s important to avoid infantilising them. What is infantilisation? It’s treating people who are no longer children like children in a way that restricts their ability to be fully integrated with their age-peers. It’s talking to them in a condescending voice, dismissing their ideas and opinions, acting as though you will always understand them better than they understand themselves, or going out of your way to shield them from everything you think may be even slightly dangerous. Infantalisation is treating your child as though they will always be a child, whether they’re five, fifteen or thirty-five. Infantilisation is different from recognising that disabled people have support needs. That’s part of what being…

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Eye Contact

Beth Wilson www.doodlebeth.com [image description & transcription: A full-color hand-drawn comic strip. The first row contains two panels. The left hand panel has a green background. A blond white person on the left is talking and maintaining eye contact with the olive-skinned person with long dark hair on the right. Black all-caps hand-lettered text on a white background above their heads reads: “For allistic people (non-autistic) eye contact is a way of connecting with others in conversation.” The right hand panel has a blue background. On the left A black person with a natural hairstyle is looking down, with an uncomfortable expression on their face while on the right a white person with long straight hot pink hair and bangs has their eyes closed tightly. Black all-caps hand-lettered text on a white background above their heads reads: “For autistic people, it’s different. Eye contact is uncomfortable and invasive.” The second…

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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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Parents: Don’t Hide Your Children’s Autism Diagnoses From Them

Reid Knight Dear Parent who is considering not telling your child about their autism: Like many autistics, I found out about my autism through Google. Unlike many autistics, Googling didn’t lead me to a self-diagnosis of autism (though I view self-diagnosis as just as valid as a professional diagnosis). My parents only told me I was autistic after looking at my internet history, and finding out that I already knew. I was fourteen years old when, out of curiosity, I Googled the doctor I had been seeing for as long as I could remember — and discovered that the medication cocktail I had been taking since I was a toddler was actually an “alternative” treatment for autism. For twelve years, I was given 10 to 20 pills each day, without being told what they were for. I was also subjected to Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) and other therapies without being…

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OASIS: A Groundbreaking New School for Autistic Students

The specific learning needs of Autistic students are not always met in traditional special education, or even in specialized autism classes or schools. We talked with Susan Walton, founder of the new OASIS school near Santa Cruz, California, about ensuring her autistic son had access to an educational environment that not only helps him learn, but lets him thrive. TPGA: Tell us about OASIS. Who are your ideal students? [image: the OASIS school sign outside an exterior building door.] Susan Walton: OASIS, the Outdoor Autism and Special Issues School, is a new Non-Public School in Freedom, California, which is in Santa Cruz county. We’ve developed a program that we are excited to offer to new students. We serve seriously autistic students between Junior High and school completion. But more specifically, we cater to those autistic students who need a lot of activity. Our students crave movement and need variety. They…

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Rejecting the Politics of Shame

TPGA is observing Autism Acceptance Month by featuring accounts from autistic people about the differences accommodations (or lack thereof) make in their lives. Today, Finn Gardiner talks about being the “truest, best self” he can be, tackling the “politics of shame head-on,” and recognizing “that I could live with my autistic, black, queer, trans self without guilt just for being alive.” Finn Gardiner [image: Selfie of a smiling black person with shaved hair & rectangular gold-rimmed glasses.] Finn Gardiner www.expectedly.org My path to autism acceptance and rejecting the politics of shame came along with my recognition of the other intersections I experience: recognising my gender identity, fighting internalised racism, and defining and following a path that was based on my own self-determined goals — rather than what parents, professionals, and other authority figures around me deemed appropriate. My childhood and adolescence were steeped in the politics of shame. Family members…

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An Advocate Asks for Acceptance in Autism Research

Photo © Subconsci Productions [image: Instruments on the wall of a doctor’s exam room.] TPGA is observing Autism Acceptance Month by featuring accounts from autistic people about the differences accommodations (or lack thereof) make in their lives. Today, Kate talks about her experience trying to participate in a TMS research study, how distressing the entire scenario was for her because of the way she was treated, and how autism researchers need to better understand and accommodate autistic people if they want more autistic participants in their studies. by Kate I have figured it out, and I kind of feel like a genius. I have figured it out, and it is this: Awareness is people talking to you. Acceptance is people respecting you. Awareness is that high-pitched, baby voice. Acceptance is speaking in a normal tone. Awareness is being invited to the table. Acceptance is making sure that you can reach…

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No (Wo)Man’s Land: Being an Autistic Mother of an Autistic Child

TPGA is observing Autism Acceptance Month by featuring accounts from autistic people about the differences accommodations (or lack thereof) make in their lives. Today’s story is from Christine Langager, about being an autistic parent of an autistic child — and the frustration of often being excluded from autistic and autism-and-parenting communities when by definition one belongs to both. Christine Langager Photo © Christine Langager [image: Selfie of white woman with long braided light brown hair] As a child, I never fit in Always on the fringe, always looking in As an adult, it has always been more of the same Never fully clicking, but making my way I met the love of my life, and finally felt that I had a place to belong We started our family, and I looked forward to more ways to connect As our first son got older, his intensity was clear Play date invitations…

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Headphones As Accommodations: My Letter to Bose

Photo: Rafiq Sarlie. Creative Commons license. [Image: Headshot of olive-skinned man with eyes closed, seen from the side, wearing a dark knitted cap and blue headphones.] TPGA is observing Autism Acceptance Month by featuring accounts from autistic people about the differences accommodations (or lack thereof) make in their lives. Today’s story is from Tito Martin-Nemtin, about the difference his noise-cancelling headphones make in his ability to simply be in the outside world, without being completely overwhelmed. This is also Martin-Nemtin’s first foray into public writing. Tito Martin-Nemtin Every time I think about my noise-cancelling headphones, I consider sending Bose a letter. The closest I come to sending that letter is after I call Bose about a problem with my headphones — ideally, before the year-long warranty on them expires. I call when their internal technology breaks down, causing feedback in one of the ears; or a loosening in the plastic…

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Could Do Better: To Professionals Working with Autistic Mothers of Autistic Children

Photo © Georgie Sharp. Creative Commons License. [image: Reclining white mother with dark hair, seen from the side, looking at an infant lying on her lap.] TPGA is observing Autism Acceptance Month by featuring accounts from autistic people about the differences accommodations (or lack thereof) make in their lives. Today’s story is from Autisticmotherland, on what professionals need to know about supporting — and diagnosing — autistic parents of autistic children. Autisticmotherland www.autisticmotherland.com In early March 2016 I spoke at the National Autistic Society’s Professional Conference on the topic of “Support and diagnosis of autistic mothers.” The talk and subject matter proved popular with the audience and I decided to write it up as a way to both summarise and explore the issues. The essay which follows is part of a three part linked series of blog posts (which I hope you will read!). This was and is my platform…