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Why Doesn’t Respect for Communication Diversity Include Non-Speaking Autistic People?

Photo © Pier Paolo Tosetto | Flickr / Creative Commons [image: Photo of a young child wearing a white baseball cat crouching down and talking at a brown bunny.] Emily Paige Ballou chavisory.wordpress.com One day, when I was 15 or 16, I was making my way through the crowded halls of my high school as I did most days, wondering for nowhere near the first time in my life how it could possibly be that I felt so isolated and cut off from most of my peers. Even ones I considered friends, or generally got along well with. There was some quality of their relationships with each other that just wasn’t there when it came to me. Everybody seemed to know things I didn’t, all the time. And finally, that day, I thought, “It’s almost as if I’m blind and deaf.” Not in the literal sense of not being able…

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ASL for Autistics

Photo © MrTinDC | Flickr / Creative Commons  [image: Bronze sculpture of hands demonstrating American Sign Language, in the visitor center at Gallaudet University.] endever* corbin anotherqueerautistic.wordpress.com To preface: I am a hearing semiverbal autistic person who is studying American Sign Language (ASL) and using it as AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication). I want to talk about why ASL can be useful for some hearing autistic people. (Of course, it’s widely useful by d/Deaf/HoH people, despite oralists’ discouragement of sign languages—destroy this philosophy for all!) However, before you consider my words please look into perspectives from actual d/Deaf people, whose experiences and culture should always be centered when discussing sign languages. Here are some links to start, and there’s a more thorough list at the bottom of this article. •Dr. Vicar’s ASL instructional videos •Rikki Poynter, deaf vlogger
 •Andrew Parsons, Deaf advocate —- I formally studied ASL as a teenager before I…

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Book Review: Communication Alternatives In Autism

[Image: Book cover with a background that is blue on the left and yellow on the right. A red bar in the upper center contains white text reading, “Communication Alternatives in Autism,” followed by smaller yellow text reading, “Perspectives on Typing and Spelling Approaches for the Nonspeaking.” Below, two hands hold a white tablet device with a keyboard visible and white text on black reading, “Hello my name is …” Below, red text reads, “Edited by Edlyn Vallejo Peña”] Communication Alternatives in Autism contains the perspectives of ten autistic self-advocates, who “share their experiences with alternative forms of communication. Their narratives document the complexities that autistic individuals navigate—in both educational and community settings—when choosing to use approaches that utilize letter boards and keyboards.” Review by Olympia Eleni Ellinas Autistic children and adults, around the world, are being treated as if they aren’t humans, as if they aren’t capable of sentient thought.…

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OK, So We have AAC: Now What?

Photo courtesy Miss A [image: An iPad screen with the app Speak for Yourself, and a list of animals in the message bar: banana, cookie, cat, dog…”] Miss A teachingunicorn.com Access to AAC—Augmentative and Alternative Communication for people with speech disabilities—is a fundamental human right, but it’s one still that tends to be forgotten and overlooked in many spaces today. And many people are just hearing about AAC, or gaining access to it for the first time. The first few steps in using AAC can feel overwhelming to families and professionals new to this journey, because it is essentially learning a new language. Many people have fears about “doing it right” and “doing it enough.” I promise that you can do AAC. You can do it. You must do it. And it will be worth every step. How? Get excited. It can be really easy for AAC to be seen as…

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It’s Time For Autism Research To Do Better By Autistic People

Photo: Charlene Croft | Creative Commons / Flickr [image: hand of a person with light skin arranging long red, green, and yellow construction blocks in a line.] Shannon Des Roches Rosa @shannonrosa Autism research is mostly failing my teenage son and his autistic community. Saying something so forthright may seem harsh, but this is the Greta Thunberg era—and we’re now telling people what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. I’ve been going to autism science conferences and scrutinizing autism research for nearly a decade, and during this time most autism studies have remained mired in areas like causation—a pursuit that does absolutely nothing to improve the lives of autistic people who are here already. Even more frustratingly, when research does address the needs of existing autistic people it does so with the goal of “intervention,” rather than focusing on quality of life, and largely neglects those…

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How to Be The Teacher Our Autistic Students Need

Photo © US Department of Education | Flickr / Creative Commons [image: A Black adult with curly medium brown chin-length hair and glasses reading a book with a young Black student with long black hair in cornrows.] Miss A teachingunicorn.com I am a special education teacher who happens to have an autistic teen and a recent autism diagnosis of my own. I’ve sat on multiple sides of the table; I’ve seen a lot. And we’ve all seen the headlines where professionals have demeaned or abused students in their care. We all think, “I’m not like that!” But I’ve seen professionals limit or take away a child’s voice. I’ve seen students given mindless and meaningless tasks. I’ve heard terms like “pre-learner” and “so low.” I’ve seen students spend years without access to reading and writing instruction. And I’ve seen professionals doing all of these things without realizing the harm they are…

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You Can’t Have Neurodiversity Without People With Intellectual Disabilities

How The Self Advocacy Movement Is Integral to the Success of the Neurodiversity Movement Ivanova Smith. Photo courtesy author. [image: A Latvian-American person with short dark hair and glasses. They are smiling and posing near a house on a shoreline, at dusk.] Ivanova Smith @lauralovesian1 With all the anti-neurodiversity stuff going around right now, I’m going say this: Intellectually disabled (ID) Autistics have been left out, that is true. But how? When people want to take away forms of communication like Facilitated Communication (FC) and Rapid Prompting Method (RPM), which is what anti-neurodiversity people want, that is is a form of silencing. That is how autistics with ID have been left, out because their form of communication has not been respected! Saying AAC users’ communication is not real and is fake is what is really silencing people. By not supporting behavior as communication, that is how people are being silenced. By…