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Teach Social Skills As Values, Not Like Computer Programs

Photo © 2C2K Photography | Flickr / Creative Commons [image: Black-and-white photo of two young embracing Black children, one with a shaved head, light button up shirt, and dark pants, the other with a  white horizontal-striped tank dress and long box braids.] Finn Gardiner expectedly.org Applied Behavioral Analysis’s simplistic definition of social skills does both autistic people and the general public a disservice. Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) taught me that social skills were context-free rules I had to follow: forcing my hands to be quiet, staring back at eyeballs that bored into mine, contorting myself to make myself look less autistic at the expense of my happiness and overall well-being. I wasn’t allowed to be who I was, so I didn’t see the benefit in making a good impression on other people.  I easily understood abstract concepts such as justice and equality as a child, but I didn’t understand social skills…

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Review: Autism: A New Introduction to Psychological Theory and Current Debate

Finn Gardiner expectedly.org  [image: The cover of the book Autism: A New Introduction to Psychological Theory and Current Debate, featuring a grid of small illustrations, interrupted by an orange rectangle in the center-top. Large white text on the rectangle reads, “Autism”.  Smaller light orange text below that reads, “A New Introduction to Psychological Theory and Current Debate.”]  Introduction Written from the perspective of British autism researchers with expertise in both theoretical and practical aspects of autism, Sue Fletcher-Watson and Francesca Happé’s Autism: A New Introduction to Psychological Theory and Current Debate is a brief, readable volume about clinical constructions of autism, autistic people’s lived experiences, and philosophical debates about how autism should be approached by professionals and advocates. While the book is technically a reissue—the original was written back in 1995—the content has been entirely revised to reflect current research, policy, and advocacy. In particular, the authors have made a conscious…

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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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Fast Learners Are Not Better Than Other People

Finn Gardiner expectedly.org (Content warning: ableist slurs.) Photo © U.S. Department of Education | Flickr/Creative Commons [image: Three schoolchildren of different races, sitting together in a classroom reading corner, reading books.] It is not nice to say that fast learners are better than other people. That is because it is mean to people who learn more slowly. It is not bad to learn slowly. It is not bad to be a fast learner either. Everyone can learn something. We just need different ways to learn things. That is OK. But some people treat fast learners like they are better than other people. That is not nice. I am a fast learner. I am not better than somebody who learns more slowly than I do. I just have different learning needs. Some people call fast learners gifted. There are many problems with that. Gifted is not a good word. Calling fast…

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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…