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An Inclusionist’s Manifesto

Photo © Mundial Perspectives | Flickr / Creative Commons [image: A white teacher with shoulder-length straight dark brown hair holding up a globe to a group of young students of varied races, several of whom are raising their hands, all of whom are seen from behind.] Tim Villegas www.thinkinclusive.us I spend a lot of time thinking about inclusion. Most of this energy is spent coming up with ways to explain inclusive education clearly and succinctly so that everyone understands what it is and why it is essential. Because, to me, it is one of the most crucial things we can do for students (disabled or non-disabled). Here’s the challenge. You probably already have thoughts and opinions about inclusion. Maybe you have already decided that the cognitive difficulties or level of autism your child has, would not be appropriate in a general education classroom. Perhaps you have a notion that inclusion…

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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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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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Distorting DEEJ: Deconstructing A Misinformed Literature Review

[image: Production photo of David Jame Savarese (Deej), a thin white male with short, cropped hair and glasses, wearing a light blue polo shirt and beige slacks, seated at a table facing his girlfriend who is seated in a power chair back to us, facing  him. A man holding a camera is standing to their left and caught in the act of filming them. ©DEEJ movie www.deejmovie.com/press] Kerima Çevik theautismwars.blogspot.com “A distinguishing feature of scientific thinking is the search for falsifying as well as confirming evidence. However, many times in the history of science, scientists have resisted new discoveries by selectively interpreting or ignoring unfavorable data.” Wikipedia on Confirmation Bias I understand that professionals who aren’t familiar with autism and autistic lived experience may carry biases about non-speaking autistic people. I don’t accept it, but I understand it. We’re human and all of us have biases. When bias becomes a…

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Forcing Friendships Doesn’t Equal Autistic Youth Gaining Social Skills

My son’s first friendships were with family. [Image of a hug between Mu and his adult big sister. His back is to the camera. His sister is smiling. Posted with the permission of the subjects. Image by their father, Nuri Cevik.] Kerima Çevik theautismwars.blogspot.com “How do I handle my child seeing the children of every new family who moves into the neighborhood surrounding us included in outdoor play knowing he is being excluded from the group?” I saw another parent posting this question as one of the most frequent questions autism parents ask as their kids become preteens and teenagers, and I cringed a bit. It is a common concern for all families with autistic youth trying to navigate a world where they are often othered and mistreated. My son and I also see them when we hang out on our deck or the backyard in the summer, or on…

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What the College Admissions Scandal Reveals About Privilege Inequality For Disabled Students

Photo © US Department of Education  | Creative Commons / Flickr [image: Three students at computer workstations, seen from behind.] Shannon Rosa Senior Editor Wealthy people using their privilege to bypass regular people problems like paying taxes is nothing new. But using that clout to exploit disability accommodations—to give their college-aspiring children truly unfair and also illegal advantages—is infuriating on multiple levels. As disability policy professional Rebecca Cokley noted at Teen Vogue: “This behavior is harmful because when celebrities and others with privilege use a marginalized community’s civil rights as a ‘VIP pass,’ it frames reasonable accommodations as something ‘special’ that you should be able to buy, versus actual civil rights that give people with disabilities an equal seat at the table.” Adrienne Wichard-Edds reported on the scandal for the Washington Post, from the perspectives of several irate parents of students with disabilities: “For children who really do struggle with…

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In Silence and in Sound: Autistics Do Not Benefit From Presumptions of Deficit

Photo: Ian Chen | Flickr / Creative Commons [image: Close-up black-and-white photo of a young East Asian child, with one finger over their lips in a position indicating “hush.”] Maxfield Sparrow unstrangemind.com When an academic writes accurately about aspects of autistic lived experience, some people grumble. “All they needed to do was ask me and I would have told them,” some will say. “We’ve known this for years but they act like it’s a shocking new revelation,” others might add. I, however, rejoice. Formal confirmation of autistic common knowledge is exactly the kind of research we need out there. I am so happy when an academic paper states the obvious (at least obvious to us autistics) because it means there is finally an information source that “the system” will respect. Do I wish people would actually listen to actual autistics? Most definitely, I do. But until we manage to shift…

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An Autistic Burnout

Content note: This post discusses suicide and suicidal ideation (thinking about suicide). Photo © Lee | Flickr/Creative Commons [image: Photo of end-stage burning match.] Kieran Rose www.theautisticadvocate.com I’ve struggled massively with writing this. It’s ironic really. It’s taken me six weeks to start writing an article about Autistic Burnout, because I’m going through Autistic Burnout… If you saw someone going through Autistic Burnout would you be able to recognise it? Would you even know what it means? Would you know what it meant for yourself if you are an Autistic person? The sad truth is that so many Autistic people, children and adults, go through burnout with zero comprehension of what is happening to them, and with zero support from their friends and families. If you’re a parent reading this, I can confidently say that I bet that no professional, from diagnosis, through any support services you’re lucky enough to…

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Supporting Autistic People in Health Care, Education, and The Criminal Justice System: An Interview with CRAE’s Laura Crane

Shannon Rosa from Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism and Corina Becker from Autism Women’s Network interviewed Laura Crane from CRAE, the UK-based Centre for Research in Autism and Education about her work in supporting best practices in health care and education for autistic people, and also demonstrating that Autistics, children specifically, can be reliable witnesses during criminal investigations. Laura Crane | Photo: CRAE [image: Smiling white woman with long brown hair.] Shannon Rosa: Why don’t you start by telling us a little bit about the work that you’re doing for CRAE, because it seems like you’re involved in so many things. Laura Crane: My research focuses on two main areas. The first is looking at how we can support autistic children and adults within the criminal and family justice systems. A lot of that work has come from police officers and barristers and other legal professionals assuming that autistic children and…

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Despite Best Efforts, the Same Old Autism Narrative Hampers The A Word

The Main Cast of The A Word [image: A white British boy wearing headphones and looking to the side. Behind him are grouped five white adults, one white teen girl, & a black woman] Sarah Pripas Kapit @SarahKapit The most important thing to know about BBC’s drama The A Word is that it both is and is not a story about autism. On a basic level, The A Word is very much an autism story. The show’s first season told the story of the Hughes family as their young son Joe (Max Vento) was diagnosed with autism. In the second season—the focus of my review—the family continues to navigate life. Given this premise, it is remarkable how many of the show’s scenes have little or nothing to do with autism. The Hughes family, who live in rural Northern England, have a seemingly unending litany of interpersonal dramas: the marital strife,…