This is the 3rd year I am writing a post for World Autism Day and I am glad of the evolution in my perception of Autism. This year’s post was written a couple of days in advance. You can read my previous year’s posts here and here. This evolution has a lot to do with the time I spend with children and adolescents on the Spectrum and reading blogs and books written by Autistic individuals. The more time I spent with Autistic children, the more I had difficulty continuing to view Autism through the deficit model that is presented to us as special needs professionals. I do perceive Autism as a disability, but my perception of why it is a disability has changed. Here I will be sharing some of the resources I love.
Whether you are a special needs professional or an autistic individual or a parent of an autistic child or not, you need to read and know about autism. Understanding people who perceive and interact with the world differently from you and informing yourself about the rights movements around you is important if you are interested in equality and social justice in general.
I hope soon we will have some Indian autistic voices online too. If you know of any Indian Autistic bloggers please add links in the comments.
Ofcourse to start with we need to answer the question ‘What is Autism?’ don’t we? So because so many of us are influenced by our training in special needs and tend to perceive Autism through the deficit model, I present to you the best answer to this question I have read to date by this amazing autistic educator, author, speaker… At Neurocosmopolitanism He is also actively involved in a some other initiatives I will talk about here, but first things first – WHAT IS AUTISM?
Autism is a genetically-based human neurological variant. The complex set of interrelated characteristics that distinguish autistic neurology from non-autistic neurology is not yet fully understood, but current evidence indicates that the central distinction is that autistic brains are characterized by particularly high levels of synaptic connectivity and responsiveness. This tends to make the autistic individual’s subjective experience more intense and chaotic than that of non-autistic individuals: on both the sensorimotor and cognitive levels, the autistic mind tends to register more information, and the impact of each bit of information tends to be both stronger and less predictable.
Autism is a developmental phenomenon, meaning that it begins in utero and has a pervasive influence on development, on multiple levels, throughout the lifespan. Autism produces distinctive, atypical ways of thinking, moving, interaction, and sensory and cognitive processing. One analogy that has often been made is that autistic individuals have a different neurological “operating system” than non-autistic individuals.
Now some of the amazing initiatives that have transformed (I cannot stress this enough) my perception of autism and have been the single biggest influence on my work with autistic children here in Ahmedabad and THE reason I chose to start using I pads with my students. So Bookmark them, Like then on Facebook, do what you need to keep them in your list of references on Autism.
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network – The name is self explanatory, it is an organisation, created and managed by autistic self-advocates.In their own words:
‘ASAN was created to provide support and services to individuals on the autism spectrum while working to educate communities and improve public perceptions of autism. Our activities include public policy advocacy, community engagement to encourage inclusion and respect for neurodiversity, quality of life oriented research, and the development of Autistic cultural activities. We provide information about autism to the public through a number of different educational, outreach and systems change related projects.’
Their website brings together press articles about autism and blogs written by autistic individuals or their non-autistic family members. It is a never ending resource for expanding your understanding of Autism.
The Loud Hands Project – An initiative of ASAN to record diverse autistic voices and present it to the largest number of people possible through ASAN’s network. It is now available as a book. The essays on the website dispel all your stereotypes and myths about autism and autistic individuals. It is a must must read!
The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism – I love the name… it just urges you to want to read it and validate yourself as a ‘thinking person’! Created by autistic indivduals and Autism positive non-autistic allies, it is a must have resource for Autism professionals. I LOVE it! Shannon des Roches Rosa one of the editors is an I pad advocate and write on Squidalicious and has put together the most awesome database of I pad apps in categories! Check Out
We are like your child – A much needed and kick ass initiative bringing together different autistic experiences, to help parents, care givers, special needs professionals understand their children through the perspectives of adults who were once children (of course!! what could be better no?)
Autism Positivity – A Blog that brings together articles written by bloggers on the theme of Autism positivity – an amazing collection of articles from 2012 and 2013 to transform your perception of Autism.
Ollibean – is a disability rights space. Presuming competence, inclusion, acceptance and accessibility rights are not restricted to Autism obviously. Ollibean is a resource for all disabilities, spreading positivity. A space that connects with parents, self-advocates and professionals.
More coming up in posts that will follow this month. Also link to the FB page of OUR ASHIANA an organisation I work with where I will be sharing one Ausome Autism link a day!