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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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Why Acceptance Versus Awareness?

Photo © Danny Hope | Creative Commons / Flickr [image: Small blue flag with lighter blue text reading, “YAY!”]   Richard Davis I see lots of campaigns to raise “awareness,” but very few to raise “acceptance.” Some issues you may just want to raise awareness about, like signs and symptoms of certain diseases, when to see a doctor, etc. When people become “aware” of something, it is not an act or a choice. They just get information and become “aware” of it. “Acceptance,” on the other hand, is more personal. People may be “aware” of autism, but may not be “accepting” of Autistic people for who they are (hence, assuming the need to “cure” them). People may be “aware” of LGBT/Queer people, but they may not “accept” them, especially being “openly gay” in public spaces. (Guess how many times I’ve been called a ‘faggot’ just for holding hands on a date??) “Acceptance” involves a…

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Role Modeling: The Evolution of an Apology

Jo Ashline joashline.com themomblog.ocregister.com/author/jashline I took the long way, but I think I’ve finally arrived First, I wrote I Told Autism to SUCK IT. Yeah. I Said It.   Then it was My Point Still Stands: Autism Can Take a Flying Leap. Then From Proud Mom to Bigot. Then Us vs. Them. Finally though, I think I get it. I think. Maybe it’s because I’m just a few short days away from my period … I don’t freaking know but in any case I’m over here bawling my eyes out because one week later I think I finally get it. I’m passionate. I’m truthful. I write truthfully with passion. And I wrote something that others found offensive and I came back and said…”Who gives a damn? This is MY SPACE, SO F$%% off.” Except. The universe doesn’t just belong to me. It belongs to everyone. And what I put out…

Take Offense, Create Change

Rob Gross I read a post recently in which the author imagines creating a “grand new conference consisting of members of the disability community of all stripes” including disabled people, their parents, professionals, writers and journalists.” He continues, “This mythical conference of ours would have only one rule. No one would be allowed to be offended” (emphasis added). The author states that by following this rule, “no one [would be] silenced…dismissed… [or] called out for the way they make their argument.” In response to this post, many parents of disabled children commented on how refreshing this would be. However, numerous Autistic adults took strong exception to this, as did some parents. Why? What could possibly be wrong with allowing people to speak their minds without restriction? Two weeks ago, one parent did just that. On her Orange County Register blog, Jo Ashline, the mother of an Autistic child, said that…

If You Can’t…

Chavisory www.chavisory.wordpress.com I got to open my presents early for Christmas this year, as my mother was going out of town to see family. I told her I hadn’t had a chance to wrap hers yet, so she could open it when she got back Christmas night. We didn’t get to finish opening presents that night. We had a yelling match about the true nature of the autism spectrum. I was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome a year and a half ago (though I’d known the truth for several years previously), which I guess that most people in my life probably know by now because I decided that it was part of my life that I wasn’t going to make any particular effort to hide, because I had nothing to be ashamed of.  I really have no idea what people think of me as a result, because I stopped concerning myself…

Coming Out: Autism in College

Kerry Magro KerryMagro.com Kerry was recently featured in a story that ran in the Orlando Sentinel and the L.A. Times which shared his transition to college life and the skills he gained there as he became a self-advocate. He has since graduated from Seton Hall.                       -The Editors Hello, my name is Kerry Magro and I have autism. I just recently learned about The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism from a truly outstanding individual, Laura Shumaker, who is a remarkable advocate for those of us who are on the spectrum.  Once I looked at the website, and read some of the essays, I knew I was hooked.  Regardless of what I took from the essays, I wanted to help in any way I possibly could. This gave me the idea of posting one of my own personal works about coming out about being on the spectrum. Below you will find…

My Fight

Spectrummy Mummy SpectrummyMummy.wordpress.com Pudding hates DIY stores. The ceilings are too high, the lights too bright, the smells too noxious, the noises too loud, the people too many; we just can’t go there with her. It is unbearable, and nothing makes it better.  So we just avoid going, easy as that. So most often Spectrummy Daddy goes alone, but this time he was ill, and though my Mondays are crammed, there was no putting it off.  Pudding was in school for the morning, so I took Cubby right after his music class.  He is more sensitive than she is, so I wasn’t sure how he’d do, but apart from a lot of questions about the various noises, he did okay.  Phew. I only had a brief amount of time before I had to collect Pudding to take her to speech therapy, so I found a sales associate to ask where…

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Interview: Sharon DaVanport of the Autism Women’s Network

Sharon daVanport is the executive director of the Autism Women’s Network and the host of the AWN Radio Show. She’s a mom to four children — one of whom has Asperger’s — and she is a tireless advocate for women and children, particularly those whose lives have been touched by domestic violence. She is also an adult who has Asperger’s Syndrome. TPGA contributor and BlogHer contributing editor Mir Kamin was lucky enough to spend some time chatting with Sharon for Autism Awareness Month. Can you tell me about how/when you were diagnosed with Asperger’s? I always like to remind people that even though I was diagnosed as an adult, it didn’t mean I became autistic as an adult. But it explains so much, everything really, so well, now that I know.  My 17-year-old son was diagnosed with Asperger’s in kindergarten. His therapist later said she knew about me right from…

The First Rule of Autism Club

Amy Greatbanks www.ishouldhavecalledhimcalvin.wordpress.com  If you have seen the film Fight Club, then you most likely know that the first rule of Fight Club is “we don’t talk about Fight Club.” When we got hit between the eyes with the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder for our son in December 2007, we had no idea we were joining such a large club. The sensation of knowing for certain that my heart-achingly precious, adorable, vulnerable child had autism was soul-crushing. And all I wanted to do was say it out loud. If we don’t give voice to this condition, we do the ones we love the most a great disservice. So many people with autism don’t have a voice of their own. That is why I vowed that my first rule of autism club was that we do talk about autism club. Almost every day I speak to someone about my child…