Listen to the most recent episode of my podcast: ALL ABOUT AUTISM & CATATONIA – What You Need To Know [Brief Informational Guide] https://anchor.fm/aspieanswers/episodes/ALL-ABOUT-AUTISM–CATATONIA—What-You-Need-To-Know-Brief-Informational-Guide-eqe431
The best approach to solving this problem is to figure out what is causing it in the first place.
A good place to start is with this assumption: if a child won’t do something, there’s a reason.
If they won’t, it’s because they can’t — but figuring out “why not” takes some detective work for parents and teachers that are teaching children on and off the spectrum or with special needs.
Could it be something in their learning environment that is affecting their behavior?
As I shared in one of my videos that with many of us autistics, we tend struggle with a few sensory outputs and inputs that are going on. For example, if we were in a classroom with a huge amount of students in class – that it could be the lighting or heating in the room -either too hot or cold or it could be due to the lighting in the room is too strong and bright.
As you start, please ask yourself if your expectations are meeting your child at their developmental age.
While the lack of motivation issue has nothing to do with intelligence: the social-emotional age of our bright, verbal autistic children can fall well behind their biological age by about one-third. There’s not enough research to give exact stats, but this lag is a common experience among individuals and is widely reported by parents. They may also just move much slower as they cycle through their tasks — this rule of thumb is that they may do half the work in twice the time. It may look as if they aren’t motivated to do a task, but it is critical to understand what slower processing speed means before jumping to conclusions about intent. Just as a key note or reminder here that not all Autistics are the same when you meet one, that doesn’t mean that they’ll show similar traits or characteristics.
With that in the back of your mind, let’s take a look at some of the factors that may contribute to what looks like lack of motivation. If you can address the underlying issues, you may be able to help your child to peel himself or herself away from Fortnite, put down the graphic novels,
or stop watching unboxing videos and focus on important chores, responsibilities and opportunities as well. Autism is just another way of being human, so the reasons can vary widely, but here are some common autism-related issues that can impact motivation.
Our children are wired differently as I can’t stress this enough!
Brain-based skills called executive functions allow us to achieve any goal-oriented tasks, and autistic children — regardless of how bright they or verbal they are — often have problems with executive functions. You can watch this video called An Autistic Perspective of Autism & Executive Function along with EF Hacks  here to understand more of how I would work as an Autistic myself. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pgka-QWdQf8&t=174s
This can affect their ability to:
• Start anything
• Plan, sequence steps, and manage time
• Be flexible in our thinking
• Transition from one task or step to the next
• Remember what they were just asked to do
• Manage our emotions or control our responses
• Organize anything — desks, backpacks, notebooks, rooms, wallet.
• Maintain focus and attention
The majority of people with ASD(Autism Spectrum Disorder) do have significant executive functioning challenges, and one of the most common issues is difficulty initiating tasks that are given. This means even when your son or daughter knows how to do their work, they may not know how to start. Thus, when autistic children refuse to do a seemingly reasonable task, consider that they might be communicating, “I don’t know how to start this.” If we understand this, we can find some strategies that may help the child get started and get through what we are asking them to do.
Just as importantly, maybe we can get teachers to stop editorializing the behavior (lazy, difficult, weird, zoned out, inattentive, won’t focus, rude, oppositional). Perhaps we can also get them to stop suggesting solutions or posing questions that are both offensive and outside of their areas of expertise
(“You should be more consistent at home. Can you take him to the doctor to get medication for attention? What’s going on in your home?”)
Fortunately, challenges in executive functioning can be addressed in your child’s Individual Education Plan. Once you know what you’re dealing with, the school can help you identify strategies that may help your child to find ways to be successful. The book called Smart But Scattered is a fantastic read, I suggest for you to read this to help better understand your child.
Children and teens with autism often seem to have performance anxiety. Since autism is a pervasive developmental disorder, they may develop skills differently than a typical person in every area of functioning across a lifespan. Our child’s communication skills, social skills, life skills, as well as how they experience the physical world, may not develop or be learned in the same way as your typical child acquires the knowledge — or at the same pace.
The way a person with ASD learns things isn’t “wrong,” but it is outside of what we commonly see. There’s not a lot of patience for “different” in our society. We “talk the talk” but don’t uniformly “walk the walk.”
What does this mean for your child? Often, it means that he is corrected in every area of functioning, in every setting, by everyone, from the time he is old enough to understand language. Over time, our children can shut down and stop trying. Why bother trying to make friends when you get embarrassed, humiliated and scolded each time? Why bother trying a new life skill or homework problem or sport? Same outcome — the reprimand and the shame.
It happens at school a lot. Our children are expected to learn the same curriculum as their typical peers and do the same volume of work. Our visual learners are expected to learn by lecture; our auditory learners who cannot hear and write at the same time are expected to take notes; our kinesthetic, hands-on learners are expected to make sense of text and words instead of experiencing something for themselves.
When they try to do the work, it is done incorrectly, too slowly, they missed the point of the question or it’s illegible. Over time, our children learn not to trust their instinct and ability. They don’t want to try, because if they do, it’ll just be another opportunity for an adult to tell them they’re wrong or that they need to do something over again. They may develop chronic performance anxiety. Who would want to try if they knew they’d experience that same loss of dignity every time? Not me. Not you. Not them.
Performance anxiety is just one kind of anxiety that can impact our children and affect motivation. Children who are teased or bullied may have a difficult time feeling motivated enough to even get out of bed, let alone study or get through a major project. In fact, children with ASD who are bullied can show symptoms of anxiety that resemble post-traumatic stress disorder: they keep reliving the incident(s) and it plays over and over in their mind, even years later. They cannot seem to shut off the
memory of these social injuries. Anxiety is a major concern for our children that cannot be overstated. It impacts not only motivation, sleep and learning, but a child’s ability to experience happiness, joy and well-being.
The more engaged they are, the more likely they will be to do or to try what is expected of them. Children with AS often have narrow interests, but they can become quite the experts in those areas. It can be frustrating for parents to try and expand those areas. Often, our children want to do nothing but eat, sleep and game, or eat, sleep and talk about horses.
Experts in the field of AS know these intense interests and the challenges in getting our children to participate in anything else is part of the package; it can go hand in hand with being an autistic learner.
Think of the level of engagement as a light switch. When a child with autism is interested in something, their energy levels, body language, posture, voice and facial expression are all turned to the ON position. They are really interested in what they are sharing with you, or what you are sharing with them. Their “light” can stay on all day and they’ll be a happy camper! But if presented with a topic of no interest, that has not been made relevant or seems like an overwhelming task, watch the light switch: the voice, the posture, the attention, the energy— pffffft….zaaappppp. OFF.
In order to improve motivation, we need to make the work meaningful to the child. We have to connect it to a future goal or to an area of special interest.
Sensory processing and motor challenges can be a significant factor in motivation (or lack thereof). We know that up to 90 percent of those with autism have sensory and motor issues that are the cause of, or contribute to, emotional or behavioral responses. We have to know how our children are experiencing their physical and sensory world before we try to figure out why we can’t get them to do anything except their special interest.
Since fine motor challenges can make all life skills and homework onerous, tiring and even painful, and sensory overload can leave children in a state of heightened anxiety, it is critical to know how your children are impacted as you figure out the best way to teach and support them. Executive dysfunction, engagement, anxiety and sensory and motor issues are just some of the factors that can contribute to lack of motivation. These barriers to motivation can seem daunting, but once you put on your autism goggles and view them through those lenses, the path becomes clearer. Here are some suggestions.
• Start with a couple of assessments if you don’t already have them.
Get a thorough occupational therapy assessment, including a sensory assessment.
This document should be
completed by an OT with additional university courses completed in sensory processing. Also, get a complete psycho-educational assessment including an evaluation of executive
functioning skills. Results from this report, along with the sensory processing information, can let you know if a child’s difficulty with motivation may stem from
environmental or sensory differences. Use the documentation to improve your child’s supports within the IEP.
• Keep the child focused on the future.
Your child is 12 years old and wants to be a game designer. They are academically capable, but you can’t get them to do language-based work. They ‘re telling you that writing an essay is useless and pointless, projects are boring and hard to do, and besides, they can never think of anything to write
about. How can you make this homework have value to the child? How can you make it relevant so that they understand how this skill ties in to their future?
- Show them.
Make the future real. School can be such a challenging place for our kids that the end of high school seems so far away and insurmountable. We have the power to
keep them focused on a future that is built on their strengths and has them surrounded with those who share their interests. Some creative ideas that
have worked for others
- Read course descriptions from post-secondary programs; take the virtual tours to show them the dorms, the cafeteria, the gaming lab.
- Call the university or college they might attend one day and see if you can get a professor to meet with you and your child.
- Pay for lunch and let the prof get your child excited about the future. Let the professor praise him for his high marks in computer tech and math, and also tell him he’ll have to raise his English marks to get into this kind of program.
- In this case, the right messenger can make all the difference when you are trying to motivate your kid. Your child’s elementary or high school may be able to help improve motivation. Can you encourage teachers to use the child’s special interest to get them more engaged in school work? For example, instead of having them write a short story, let them write a game story and plot. Include famous game developers in the options when the class has to write a biography. For art class, let them create the video game cover art. There is no end to the creative ways to teach the relevance of the work we require them to do if we can hook it to areas of interest.
• Parents and teachers can use strategies that will help the child be successful with the task. Do they need a visual to supplement or support whatever you told them verbally?
This could be a list of the steps of a chore or project, or maybe just putting the expectation onto a calendar. Poor working memory may mean they don’t remember what you just
asked them to do: use visuals. Most children on the spectrum are strong visual learners.
• Expectations should match the child’s ability and skills. We often expect our autistic children to learn things just because we’ve shown them a few times,
or because they are old enough, so we feel they should be doing it. Keep in mind that anxiety can make it impossible to remember what we know. When we are anxious,
our thinking brain goes offline and our emotional brain kicks in.When children with autism are allowed to learn in an environment that does not assault their senses,
this can help them to manage and regulate their behaviors and
emotions in the school setting and at home. This means one less barrier to doing what is expected of them.
• Make sure they understand the value and relevance of what you are asking them to do. No one likes doing things that are unpleasant or hard.
If we understand why we are doing it, it can make it easier to get through, or even to get started.
• Try to address anything that is causing or contributing to anxiety He’s being bullied or teased? It is critical that schools find a way to make that stop.
He is afraid to try for fear of being incorrect? Teach tolerance of making mistakes by “living your life out loud.”
That means you let him see and hear you make mistakes
and calmly try again. Let his teacher do the same. Reinforce him for making a mistake and sticking with it to try again. If he is less fearful of making a mistake,
he may be more motivated to try.
• Encourage your school to teach your child to self-calm to reduce anxiety in the school setting. Again, this can be part of your child’s Individual Education Plan, if it is a documented need. Some school boards have mental health nurses or social workers that can work directly with your child to teach these things. Others may have staff that are knowledgeable and experienced implementing programs for sensory and self-regulation, like the Zones of Regulation or the Incredible
- Don’t forget to praise or reinforce your child for effort, not just for achievement. I’m not saying we bribe our children, I am saying that when they find a way to initiate something we may say, “Thanks, hon. Appreciate it.” Other children may be motivated by seeing boxes checked off on a list of steps or chores throughout the day. You know your child best interests at heart. Recognize their efforts and achievements in ways they respond to.
One caution to let you all know is to be genuine in your response, and careful not to overdo it. Some of our children are very uncomfortable with praise or attention, and find this kind of reinforcement patronizing and uncomfortable. For those children, you are the true expert. It’s still necessary to recognize when they’ve had to extend effort to do something you know has been difficult for them. For those children, your response might be much more low-key. It might be something like, “I appreciate that you did that.”
A final note. We do not grow out of being on the autism spectrum. If we need visuals to support our memory, our learning and our executive functioning needs, then we may always need them in one form or another, even as an adult. I’m sure many of you use visuals every day for yourself. I know I would be lost without my cellphone, tablet and computer. I have many separate calendars, one on my Android, on my email accounts and in a diary planner. Without them, I’d be more lost than I already am.
Just make the supports that you provide for your child age-appropriate and appealing, and that will help to motivate the buy in.
“I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there’s gum in my hair and when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on the skateboard and by mistake I dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Quote from Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day – a real great example for black and white thinking.
Black and white thinking can sometimes feel intentional or manipulative, especially when it happens again and again and in similar situations when it arises.
Black and white thinking is also known as “polarized thinking patterns”. Polarized thinking patterns are ways of thinking that just make sense to people with Autism yet other people with mental illnesses such as Bipolar, Depression etc. Black and white thinking is a pattern of thoughts that are characterized in thinking in the extremes as they will work in way of being polar opposites.Example is that everything will be the worst day ever or best day ever. Individuals on the spectrum struggle with the nuances and non-verbal gestures and communication that exist in interpersonal interactions and communication standards
that may come more naturally to others.
How many times a day do you find yourself thinking, feeling or talking about something as if there must be only one or two possible choices or ways to go?
For example – Either I’m a winner or I’m a loser; I can prove I was right, so that proves you are wrong; to take care of your needs I have to give up on mine; if you can’t be open and spontaneous (like me) then you are inhibited; I only have two choices, fight or give up; you are controlled by your feelings and he is controlled by their own mind.
Another classic example here is that anything lower than a 100% on a math quiz = failure. And, that’s even if the actual grade earned is a 97%. Handling conflicts is a tough one to begin with, but for someone with Autism, an argument or lack of agreement about a topic = no more friendship. A young woman with Autism may get in an argument with a friend at school and immediately feel they are not friends with this person anymore, struggling to understand that disagreements are a natural part of any relationship and can and should be able to be worked through with communicating to one another. These automatic thoughts can lead to significant setbacks in a child’s academic and social functioning.
Notice also that this way of looking at the world also contains very strong judgmental elements. The essential energy behind each polarized thought is that one idea, one person or one side is good or powerful and the other is wrong or powerless. So, what is going on that locks us in to this limited way of looking at life and robs us of our freedom of choice?
This way of seeing the world (polarized thinking) is not only common, it is often emphasized during childhood and teenage years, by our parents, (you are a good child or a bad child; if you don’t tell the truth you are lying) our teachers (If you know the ‘right’ answer or do your exercise the ‘correct’ way you pass; if you can’t do it correctly you fail) and our spiritual leaders (until you are ‘saved’ you are not a true believer; this is only one ‘true’ faith, no other faith can get you into Heaven).
Polarized thinking is the very essence of our legal system (either you are innocent or guilty, if you can prove it you win the case, if you don’t have the evidence you lose the case).
Polarized thinking for black and white thinking can go to the extremities.
Our government and our political parties operate very much within the limits of polarized thinking, which effectively rules out most opportunities for compromise or consensus.
Most wars are between two sides, each stuck in the same kind of restricted thinking but polarized in opposing positions with no room to move. (We are right, they are wrong and we must kill them to prove it).
Sports such as football encourage the same approach to life.
This sort of approach is like known for as a “All or Nothing thinking.” As this will interfere with our lives of a healthier relationship or friendship with someone.
Does this seem to look and feel familiar to you of what we say to ourselves?
With this type of thinking this can distort our reality and contribute to negative impacts of our lives such as anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses.
How we change our way of thinking is up to us.
HOW DOES BLACK AND WHITE THINKING AFFECT US?
Black and white thinking can create helplessness. Example is that we may put our partner down by saying that they were a complete jerk for not doing what you asked them to do
and you on the other hand isn’t willing to change your thoughts and outlook of the problem at hand.
*Invites defensiveness in others:
Example you never done the chores I asked you to do. You start yelling and all and that makes them feel worthless and defenseless due to you attacking them with your words. There are a lot of reasons why they may not have done that they could’ve been busy, tired, forgot to do them and not intentionally trying to drive you insane. This sort of thinking behavior towards our partner will then result for break-ups, divorces, arguments and so much stress etc to the point that you will be left alone.
So, we need to be careful how we use or choose our words to whoever we’re talking to as this can result in consequences. You can always find ways of improvement for your communication that you’re having issues with. Also, be patient with them.
*Negatively impact your relationship with others.
Say that you’ve been dating for a while and everything felt really good with being with that person. You feel on top of the world and then all of the sudden they’re the worst person to be with. You’re in a vicious cycle of love and hate, good and bad, up and down. When this happens all too often in a healthier relationship the black and white thinking can impact your peace and comfort with each other and being able to connect with each other on a deeper level as you crave for love and acceptance from your partner.
- It can hurt your self-image
How and what do we see ourselves as a person can be another way of looking at it as we may think either we’re a good or bad person yet in reality we’re in between.
we think black and white we risk being overly self-critical or we end up refusing to see our own faults, flaws and imperfections. This can lead us being hypersensitive towards
others opionions and make it difficult to accept cristicism without deep insecurity that will in turn lead us to not being able to love ourselves and allow for growth
in all areas in our lives.
WHY DO WE USE BLACK AND WHITE THINKING?
Black and white thinking can serve as a purpose in the right way yet this is a form of a defense mechanism for us as we act like we’re a victim from a traumatic experience
or that we want to be in control of everything and everyone around us.
So how can we begin to help our children and adolescents develop a sense of the gray area? Below are a few strategies that can be used to help the black and white thinker in becoming more comfortable in all of the gray areas that life tends to throw our way.
- Define the gray area for them
Since black and white thinkers don’t naturally see the gray, it can be helpful for others to define it for them. For example, if a child who has Autism worked on a long-term project in art class and brings it home, claiming they are disappointed with how it turned out and writing off the entire thing as a failure, a parent can ask their child questions such as “did you have to learn any new art skills to make this project?” or “what is one thing you do like about the project?” Asking these questions prompts children to see that both positive and negative aspects of one thing can coexist.
- Changing our thinking patterns
Another way to define the gray and expand the walls of black and white thinking is to ask the child or young man or woman if there are other reasons that a particular outcome may have taken place. For example, if you are driving along on the highway and notice that there has been a car accident, engage the gray area thinking by asking, “How do you think that car accident happened? How else could it have happened? What else? Anything else?” The goal is to help him to identify that it could have been
the red car that hit the blue car. It could have been the driver in the blue car was texting or focusing on a phone call. Perhaps the driver in the red car sneezed or was arguing with the passenger and wasn’t processing that the driver in front of her was slowing down.
When gray area thinking isn’t happening naturally, provide choices or ask questions. For example, “Do you think it could have been the fault of the driver of the red car or the blue car? Do you think the driver didn’t notice that traffic was slowing down?”
And here’s another big set of questions – ask about perspective and feelings. “How do you think the drivers of the cars might feel? What do you think the driver of the red car is feeling right now (if the red is obviously banged up more than the blue car)?”
These conversations will not be met with ease and it will take persistence to initiate discussions about other reasons, feelings, and perspectives again and again until the language and thinking patterns begin to change, even if just a little.
- Remind children that a bad moment does not equal a bad day
Many black and white thinkers are very quick to write off an entire day as a failure after making one mistake, or having one behavioral issue in school. Hearing from their teachers, parents and peers that the day still has a potential to improve can empower these children to move past their assumptions and generalizations.
This is another tough idea to internalize because one bad thing = bad day. It’s difficult to weigh the good and the bad of the day and come to the realization that although 1 or 2 bad things happened today, it was still a good day overall. Riding the ups and downs of the day is a life skill that will benefit black and white thinkers as they grow older and learn to navigate the world of school and work and everything else around them.
- Utilize a visual
Visuals are an excellent tool to use to help expand those parameters beyond the black and white. Incorporating a rainbow with multiple colors or a traffic light visual can assist black and white thinkers by developing alternative options and will lead them to selecting the most likely and realistic outcome. That is, use the colors or different color lights to identify multiple solutions to a problem, or different possibilities that could take place if a decision is made (e.g., to end a friendship because of a disagreement, or to try to work through it and keep the friendship or to work through it to keep the friendship if it is worth having or losing a friend). A number chart that includes rating scales of 1-10 can also assist children in understanding that the in-between area does exist. The bigger the range, the more the gray area because the nuances of the emotions expands and the child or adolescent has to make a decision how she feels without it being just happy, mad or sad. It could be a combination of feelings, or variations of angry or mad or sad.
- Start to see the signs of the all or nothing thinking that arrives in our mindset.
Just think about what was shared earlier about how we speak like always, never. Trying to make someone perfect.
- Challenge our thoughts
Just because you’re thinking it, doesn’t mean that you may act upon it or it doesn’t sound true. Take away your negative thoughts and replace with them with positive thoughts.
- Replacing negative thoughts to a moderate standard of thoughts
- Increase your willingness to feel all your emotions.
It’s okay to feel not okay some days but the number one thing to remember is how we express or act upon it. Talk to someone that you trust or even to talk to the other person that you’re having issues with and try to work on a solution than making it an everyday problem.
- List your options
We know that when we do end up thinking negatively we should be able to weigh up our positive thinking as well. Black and white thinking patterns can have quite the impact on everyday functioning, both in and out of school, relationships, friendships and more.
Incorporating some of these strategies can assist black and white thinkers in challenging their automatic thought patterns. For those who see the world in nothing but extremes, it is important for them to gain some perspective and learn that life rarely fits itself perfectly into an “all or nothing” approach.
Life sure can be tough and have a lot of different feelings and emotions that comes with it yet again as I said it’s up to us how we are going to approach the situation and ‘how or what we think. Can someone love me for who I am and what I am
10. Ask others for help.
Sometimes it is good to have someone else to talk to and being able to share our thoughts etc so that we can gain a better understanding and perspective to what and how they see if there was a problem. As said communication is key here and two heads are better than on.
Bottom line here is that with all these strategies and knowing what is causing you to think the way that you do, the sooner the better you can get help for yourself. It’s all about taking care of yourself first and foremost. It’s all about accepting the fact that something isn’t right and with the right methods we can go further in our lives. Remember what we say and do in our lives is up to us and starts and ends with us. We’re the authors and painters of our stories.
As we know that as we grow up at this point of time as we transition from a child to an adult that we fully rely on our parents as they’re the first one that are in our lives and that they’re first in contact with us.Our parents should be our role models, mentor, guide and all these other labels in front of it based on what we go through in our everyday life.
We should be able to trust our parents and what not to actually share our problems too or what have you. It’s all about trust and communication, I believe also.
During adolescence, your child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is forming an independent identity. This is a normal and important part of becoming an adult, and you can do a lot to support your child and build his self-esteem along the way.
As an autistic adult, I can tell you if you let me tell you that without hesitation, that I wasn’t always confident and had great self esteem as this took time and patience with people around me along with basically having to have the right people around me. Young children and adults with autism have self-esteem problems. (In my video, I talked about my life growing up from a child to a young adult to who and what I’ve become based on my experiences and some life lessons I’ve learnt).
When you are critical of your child’s behaviors or social interactions with their peers or with you or whoever they are, they often feel hurt. They feel like that you’re judging them, you’re criticizing them on how they should be living or whatever. It’s just how you come across as an adult when you’re actually
teaching your child especially about self- identity and self-esteem. I’ve noticed that sometimes in saying this that some adults tend to what I’ve witnessed just bear with me and don’t hit me hard in the comments in the comments or what have you to what am about to share about this as this is based on my own experience and what I’ve seen and heard basically in my lifetime that many you know parents tend to bully or just make the child so small to the point that they don’t want to come out of their own shell. They already feel as if they are under a microscope because of the doctor visits, occupational therapist sessions, and the stream of interventions we try. I’d feel like everybody was trying to fix me in the same set of circumstances, and it would hurt my self-esteem, too. (I have enough problems feeling good about my cooking when my anyone who comes in my circle criticizes me.)
Kids with autism don’t understand subtle jokes very often, and social interactions often turn out badly for them, which erodes their self-esteem even more. Combine all this with the expectations of siblings and the all-too-frequent bullying, and it’s easy to understand how devastated a child with an autism spectrum disorder can feel.
So, the big question I ask is, “What can we do?” It’s crucial that family members, educators, and professionals learn strategies and techniques to build self-esteem in kids with autism and Asperger’s. Everyone needs a reminder now and then of just how precious they are, and our very special children
need those reminders every day. For example, “Sammy, you are doing a great job cleaning your room. If you pick up those clothes over there, it would look even neater.
Boy, you sure are a good listener.”
It Starts with You as a Parent
In order to build your child’s self-esteem, you need to believe in your child’s inherent value and convey that to everyone else before that child’s self-esteem can begin to improve. These kids know when we’re faking our compliments, and the therapy books say we should give five positive comments to each correction. We have to walk in our child’s shoes and empathize with how they feel. We need to look for these special gifts, tune in to the child with our hearts, and find ways to bring out their precious essence.
It helps when you go to conferences, read books, research and share information. Teach extended family, educators, and other professionals to help your child integrate into groups. Be intuitive when advocating for children, and be persistent, not abrasive or not abrupt.
Emphasize the Positives
In addition, keep a positive attitude. Children with autism oftentimes have an incredible sense of humor. Say what you mean and mean what you say. So, what you say we are usually black and white thinkers.How you speak to us is important and avoiding any misunderstanding or conflicts as this is crucial here. I already have spoken about how you can speak to your autistic child as well as literal language which you can click above me or look into the description box below me.
Look for the good in every child, even if you don’t see it at first. Many people don’t get it as they think that autism is a disease. Autism is a curse. Autism whatever the label is going to be for many of us. We are not broken. We don’t need to be fixed. I don’t believe that we don’t need a cure. We just need to be treated like a human being because again we are still humans. We still have feelings.
Model a mental attitude of “things are great.” Express yourself in the positive, rather than the negative. Kids with autism/Asperger’s are masters at copying what others say, act and do
so make sure they’re hearing things that are good for them to copy. When we say, “You are great!” to a child often enough, he/she, too, will believe it and feel valued for who he truly is. Also, encourage children to share their thoughts and feelings. This is so important, and it often sheds new light on existing situations.
Balance the Physical with the Mental and Spiritual
Like most people, kids with autism feel better about themselves, when they’re balanced physically, emotionally, and spiritually. These are all great areas in which to build self-esteem.
Since your child may have digestive problems, which often makes him or her a very fussy eater and likely to gravitate towards junk food, most doctors say it is important to try supplements. However, be sure to check with your child’s doctor first. Also, provide regular physical activity, when possible, to
relieve stress and clear your child’s mind.
Set the stage for success by acknowledging their successes, however small, and reminding your child of their previous accomplishments. Keep their life manageable,
and don’t overwhelm your child with too many activities.
*MENTIONED ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF MAKING LISTS SO THAT IT DOESN’T OVERWHELM THE CHILD WHEN YOU GIVE THEM SET TASKS TO DO THROUGHOUT THEIR DAY. LISTS ARE GREAT AT LOOKING AT WHAT IS NEEDED TO BE DONE AND WHEN TASK IS DONE WE CAN MARK EACH ONE OFF AND THAT WE CAN SEE HOW MUCH WE DONE IN WAY OF PROGRESS. ADVICE TO THE PARENTS:
DEPENDING ON THE AGE OF THE CHILD AS A SUGGESTION THAT YOU CAN DO A VISUAL TO DO LIST OR SCHEDULE OF THE DAY OF WHAT IS NEEDED TO BE DONE AS WELL.
Provide choices frequently, so they understand they have a say in their own lives. You might want to try to give them a whole day in which to be in charge of something.
Give your child every opportunity to connect with their spiritual side, through religious avenues, or by communing with nature. This can help them feel purposeful and that their lives have meaning. One strategy that helped raise my Jonny’s self-esteem, especially when it came to overcoming his victim thoughts and feelings, was to employ spiritual affirmations. Using affirmations took some time, but we found that it brought calm and peace to Jonny and our family.
Dr. Gerald Jampolsky, author of Love is Letting Go of Fear and founder of California’s Center for Attitudinal Healing, offers many principles I find helpful in teaching us to love ourselves, thereby enhancing our own self-esteem and that of others. Some of his principles include:
- The essence of our being is love
- Health is inner peace
- Live in the now
- Become love finders, rather than fault finders
- Learn to love others and ourselves by forgiving, rather than judging
- Choose to be peaceful inside, regardless of what’s going on in the outside world around us.
- We are all students and teachers to each other.
Part of Dr. Jampolsky’s message is that, by focusing on life as a whole, rather than in fragments, we can see what is truly important. His concepts, when embraced, positively affect how a child with autism thinks and feels about him- or herself. Anger, resentment, judgment,
and similar feelings are all forms of fear. Since love and fear cannot coexist, letting go of fear allows love to be the dominant feeling over fear for us.
Look for the Miracles everyday
Every day, there are miracles and good things happening all around us. Be on your child’s side by tuning into who they truly are: unique expressions of divine light. Empower your child to be okay with who they are. Do this by loving your child not for who you want them to be, but for who they are.
Consider that children and adults with autism/Asperger’s are wonderful beings, here to teach us empathy, compassion, understanding, and most importantly, how to love. Do whatever it takes to authentically include your child in your life, rather than merely tolerate their presence or exclude them once and for alls.
Explaining Autism to Others
Autism can seem like a life sentence one moment and a spiritual celebration of life the next. But, however we see autism, we should see it in a positive light, I believe.
Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability today to date. We constantly explain our children to people who don’t want to understand via through social medias, books and whatever other resources that are readily available. We define autism continually to educators who oppose us. We speak out, because many of our children do not have a voice.
Unity and fellowship seem to elude our movement. Some of us search for treatment, some for a cure, and some ask simply for adequate programming. Nonetheless, it should be all about the children.
According to an article by the American Academy of Neurology and the Child Neurology Society:
Autism and pervasive developmental disorders encompass a wide continuum of associated cognitive and neurobehavioral disorders, including the core defining features of
impaired socialization, impaired verbal and nonverbal communication, and restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior . . . .
There are several hundred different treatments offered for autism, with many viewpoints and a wide variety of theories. So how, with all this information around you, can you explain the sense of loss you feel when your child stops being who he was? It is like he’s there, but he’s not there. He is disconnected.
How do you explain the sensory issues, the outbursts, and the pain your child wrestles with every day on a daily basis? How do you explain that autism is unique and unpredictable,
but not horrifying? How do you explain the undying love and dedication we have for our children?
Look into your child’s face, watch him or her smile, and you’ll understand. No explanation is necessary.
Teenagers with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can find it harder than typically developing teenagers to work out who they are and what their values are. They might also find it difficult to build self-esteem – that is, seeing themselves as valuable members of society with skills and strengths.
Your child might find these things hard because she has trouble recognizing and controlling his or her own emotions. This can make it difficult for him or her to work out how he or she feels about herself, how she feels about certain issues and what his or her values are truly are.
Also, typically developing teenagers often learn about themselves from their peer group, but your child’s ability to do this might be more limited. For example, he or she might be unsure of how he fits into and relates to his or her peer group. Or he or she might notice for the first time that he understands or interprets things differently from his peers. He or she might be cut off from his peer group, or just not interested in his peers.
And then there are the usual adolescent ups and downs. Your child might just be feeling more ups and downs than they’re used to. This could be for many reasons – physical, emotional, social and psychological – and not for any one reason in particular. Often you can’t pin it down.
Autistic children often struggle to understand or talk about emotions. There are some therapies that are available for your autistic son/daughter at any age. This will determine where you are and what type of therapy you feel is right for your child. Remember that not all therapy will work for any of us that goes through it so it will again vary from person to person.
I’ve mentioned some therapy types of what they are and what they do for people which you can find here above me. Emotional development happens according to your child’s cognitive or developmental age rather than his age in years. For example, your child might be 13 but be more like a 9-year-old in emotional development and behaviour stage. Building your child on the autism spectrum is important.
Talking about being different
Talking with your child about how everybody is different – which is what makes us interesting – can help your child see himself or herself as a valuable part of society.
You can help your child understand that people can look, speak, think or act differently from each other – and this is OK. Although your child might feel different from other children at school, or people might tell him that he’s different, she/he is not the only one who is different.
Joining an activity that she enjoys, like a sports club or a band, can help your child build a better sense of her strengths,
what she enjoys and where she fits in. It’s also a good chance for her to develop and practise her social skills
and mix with teenagers who don’t have autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Getting involved with other teenagers who do have ASD can help your child to understand more about ASD and the different ways it can affect people.
They’ll be able to share his own experiences with an understanding audience. Your state autism association or local council can help you find a local group.
Thinking about ‘me’
You can encourage your child to think about:
what he or she likes and doesn’t like his or her personality – for example, whether she’s generous, artistic, polite and so on what words she would use to describe herself to others.
One way to get your child thinking about themselves is to help him or her create an ‘All about me’ book. This might include pictures of things your child likes, pictures of friends or things about their hobbies and achievements. Drawings or craft creations from when your child was younger can remind them of past experiences. Things like school reports can help your child think about past and current achievements.
When your child comes up with a list of words to describe themselves, these can go into their book.
Knowing about family
Your child’s self-identity also comes from knowing about his family. You could show your child things like family photographs and include them in the ‘All about me’ book too.
It might also help your child to hear about your experiences of growing up and being a teenager,
especially if your child doesn’t have a lot of support from peers and friends.
So today, we will go over just a few basics on understanding and explaining autism to an autistic child. With so many resources that are readily available now that we can access at our advantage.
The world is our oyster. You as a parent will need to be prepared to handle the discussion in a positive way!
Explaining autism to a child can be tough. Even more so if you are explaining autism to an autistic child.
Check out these great tips to make the conversation go smoother and give both you and your child a better understanding of autism. First and foremost, remember to keep it simple. Explaining in too much detail will overwhelm your child and do more harm than good.
Here are a few key ways as form of advice from me as an Aspie to explain autism as well as resources to help along the way.
WHAT IS AUTISM?
First thing is to explain autism. According to the age and maturity level of your child, this may be slightly different, but still the basis of what you need to explain. Simply put “Autism means that your brain works differently from other children’s brains. Or some autistics says that we’re a different operating system due to the wiring of our brain of our mindset of how we process information and how we do our form of communication and everything else.
As I said before that not all autistics are the same when you think that you’ve met one and you basically think that they’re autistic as well. Don’t forever assume that just because they’re showing different signs of autism that they’re not.You never know so the best bet is to seek professional help or even
ask the person themselves. You will also need to know more about autism yourself as a parent or educator or whoever in order to answer any questions your child may have or any child that
may come up to you if you are educating them. Basically, there are few things to know about autism which I did share obviously of the signs and symptoms or the characteristics
in an autistic female. Remember to keep your answers simple and to the point or as the for the famous quota is for this is KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) . Many people with autism do not understand sarcasm, and may not understand metaphors until a much older and mature age.
EXPLAINING AUTISM IN A POSITIVE WAY
Whenever you talk to your child (around or even near) about autism, remember to keep it positive. Be open and honest about autism. Teaching different not less is ideal when explaining autism to a child with autism. Because this is one of the slogans that we live by obviously. Although there is still a large stigma around autism and mental health basically and that’s why I’m here hopefully to demolish some of this stuff for your guys understanding so on and so forth.
You are your child’s biggest advocate. You’re their role model. You’re their teacher. You’re everything. Obviously, the child comes to see you in their everyday life from birth to teens to adult and to what have you. Right? So, therefore you need to be wearing your crown or whatever as an advocate or whatever for your child no matter what age as you’re their advocate and voice to share to others that they’re different basically when you meet others out on the street. We shouldn’t you know feel fearful.
We shouldn’t feel judgmental of others that then again being different can be so exhilarating, exciting and a bit of a roller coaster of other emotions all in one as well. How you see autism is how they will see autism obviously after you explain it to them.
SOME BOOKS AS RESOURCES TO HELP YOUR CHILD TO UNDERSTAND AUTISM
THE SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR KIDS WITH AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS (AND THEIR PARENTS
This positive, straightforward book offers kids with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) their own comprehensive resource for both understanding their condition and finding tools to cope with the challenges they face every day. Some children with ASD are gifted; others struggle academically.
Some are more introverted, while others try to be social. Some get “stuck” on things, have limited interests, or experience repeated motor movements like flapping or pacing (“stims”).
The Survival Guide for Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders covers all of these areas, with an emphasis on helping children gain new self-understanding and self-acceptance. Meant to be read with a parent, the book addresses questions (“What’s an ASD?” “Why me?”) and provides strategies for communicating, making and keeping friends, and succeeding in school.
The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin
IF YOU’VE EVER FELT DIFFERENT, IF YOU’VE EVER BEEN LOW, IF YOU DON’T QUITE FIT IN, THERE’S A NAME YOU SHOULD KNOW… MEET DR. TEMPLE GRANDIN―ONE OF THE WORLD’S QUIRKIEST SCIENCE HEROES!
When a young Temple was diagnosed with autism, no one expected her to talk, let alone become one of the most powerful voices in modern science. Yet, the determined visual thinker did just that. Her unique mind allowed her to connect with animals in a special way, helping her invent groundbreaking improvements for farms around the globe!
WE’RE AMAZING 1,2,3! A STORY ABOUT FRIENDSHIP AND AUTISM
We’re Amazing 1,2,3! is the first Sesame Street storybook to focus on autism, which, according to the most recent US government survey, may, in some form, affect as many as one in forty-five children. It’s part of Sesame Street’s autism initiative that has expanded to include a new character with autism.
Elmo introduces his longtime friend Julia to Abby, who’s a little confused at first because Julia isn’t saying hello. Elmo explains that Julia has autism, so she does things a little differently. Julia sometimes avoids direct eye contact, flaps her arms when she’s excited and is sensitive to some noises.
But Abby soon learns that she also has a lot of things in common with Julia. All kids want love, friendship, and to have fun! They are all wonderful, each in his or her own way.
ALL MY STRIPES: A STORY FOR CHILDREN WITH AUTISM
This is the story of Zane, a zebra with autism, who worries that his differences make him stand out from his peers. With careful guidance from his mother, Zane learns that autism is only one of many qualities that make him special. It contains a Note to Parents by Drew Coman, Ph.D., and Ellen Braaten, Ph.D., as well as a Foreword by Alison Singer, President of the Autism Science Foundation.
DIFFERENT, NOT LESS: A CHILDREN’S BOOK ABOUT AUTISM
Children with autism can do amazing, incredible things!
You can use this book to teach your child about Autism Spectrum Disorder. The poem will explain how those diagnosed are different, but also wish to be included in most social circles. The poem was written by the father of a son with ASD. This book will give you an opportunity to explain the diagnosis to your child when you believe they are able to understand.
Different, Not Less: A Children’s Book About Autism was written with children in mind.
The text is big and bold and runs down the page similar to a list format.
This should help avoid the skipping of words since it is easy for parents to cover up words as the child reads.
Each page also has a hidden word. Red letters mixed in with the black letters spell uplifting words for those diagnosed with autism.
DIFFERENT LIKE ME: MY BOOK OF AUTISM HEROES
“Different Like Me” introduces children aged 8 to 12 years to famous, inspirational figures from the world of science, art, math, literature, philosophy, and comedy.
Eight-year-old Quinn, a young boy with Asperger’s Syndrome, tells young readers about the achievements and characteristics of his autism heroes, from Albert Einstein, Dian Fossey, and Wassily Kandinsky to Lewis Carroll, Benjamin Banneker, and Julia Bowman Robinson, among others.
All excel in different fields but are united by the fact that they often found it difficult to fit in-just like Quinn.
Fully illustrated in color and written in child-friendly language, this book will be a wonderful resource for children, particularly children with autism, their parents, teachers, carers and siblings.
In the comments section below, please let me know how your conversation went! What was the most successful part of your talk?
American Art Therapy Association has quoted that “Art therapy is a mental health profession that uses the creative process of art-making to improve
and enhance the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages.
It is based on the belief that the creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps people to resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem, and self-awareness, and achieve insight.”There is no single way to provide art therapy; as a result there are some factors to consider.
- It can look very different when practiced by and with different individuals.
- It can be free-flowing or structured, open-ended or goal-oriented. For children and adults with autism,
- It can be a wonderful way to open doors to self-expression and engagement.
Although, it may seem cliche that art and autism are a great combination for people with autism from all ages. For those of us who cannot always get words to come out of our mouths, art offers a way of self-expression. For children, it allows their imagination to run wild and come to life before their eyes.
As I’ve mentioned so many times before about the characteristics and traits of autism that a major aspect of autism is difficulties in communication. This can be anywhere from completely non-verbal to having a hard time processing language and turning it back into a smooth conversation for others around them. Though communication may be difficult, we still want to express it ourselves.
Art allows for those with autism to speak visually.
Why Use Art Therapy to Treat Autism?
One of the hallmarks of autism spectrum disorders is a difficulty with verbal and social communication.
In some cases, people with autism are literally nonverbal and unable to use speech to communicate at all. In other cases, people with autism have a hard time processing language and turning it into smooth, easy conversation. People with autism may also have a tough time reading faces and body language. As a result, they may have difficulty with telling a joke from a statement or sarcasm from sincerity around them.
Meanwhile, many people with autism have an extraordinary ability to think visually “in pictures.” Many can turn that ability to good use in processing memories, recording images and visual information, and expressing ideas through drawing or other artistic media. Art is a form of expression that requires little or no verbal interaction that can open doors to communication.
All too often, it’s assumed that a nonverbal person or a person with limited verbal capabilities is incompetent in other areas. As a result, people on the autism spectrum may not be exposed to opportunities to use artistic media, or the opportunities may be too challenging in other ways
(in large class settings, for example). Art therapy offers an opportunity for therapists to work one-on-one with individuals on the autism spectrum to build a wide range of skills in a manner which may be more comfortable (and thus more effective) than spoken language.
How Art Therapy Is Different From Art Classes?
Art therapy is a tool for helping clients to access their emotions. By contrast, art classes are intended to provide students with instruction on how to achieve specific artistic effects or goals. While art classes may be appropriate for individuals with autism, they are not a substitute for art therapy.
What Art Therapists Do for People With Autism
The research is somewhat sketchy regarding the impact of art therapy on people with autism however to let you know. The literature consists mainly of case studies and papers describing the observed impact of art therapy programs. Some of the papers written and presented on the subject, however, suggest that art therapy can do a great deal. In some cases, it has opened up a whole world of opportunity to an individual with autism who has significant artistic talent. In other cases,
it has created a unique opportunity for personal bonding. Other possible outcomes include:
- improved ability to imagine and think symbolically
- improved ability to recognize and respond to facial expressions
- improved ability to manage sensory issues (problems with stickiness, etc.)
- improved fine motor skills
THE BENEFITS OF ART FOR AUTISTIC CHILDREN
There are a lot of benefits but these are just a few I came up with. They are as follows:
*Offers a visual communication
*Improves communication skills:
Art therapy can help stimulate the diffuse part of the brain and also help children with Autism Spectrum Disorders in expressing non-verbal conversations.
For example, children with Autism Spectrum Disorders can produce a painting or describe something as a way for them to communicate using symbols or icons.
This process can help develop communication directly and can help in their thinking process. This method can also train children with Autism Spectrum Disorders to focus more and can directly engage in interacting with their peers and others around them. It is also a good way to reduce anxiety and help improve their emotional development.
*Easy way to help resolve conflicts they can not verbally express.
- Build and develop feelings and emotions using art
Art therapy is also good for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders because they are sometimes challenged in maintaining emotional stability around them. Hence, by drawing or making a craft, it can train them to express feelings through drawing or drawing activities such as making collages and crafts alone. This therapy is also used to train their endurance and patience in solving an art task other than helping to improve their expression and feelings.
*Helps with imaging and thinking symbolically
*Improves the ability to recognize (and respond) to facial expressions
*Helps with Self-Esteem and Self-Awareness.
*Can be used to help with Sensory Processing Issues
*Improves fine motor skills
*Help with social skills – As mentioned in one part of my video that most autistics struggles to read body language and cues from people along with the tones of voice and facial expressions too
*Art therapy can address Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)
Sensory processing disorder (SPD), a pervasive problem in autism which contributes to a great deal of difficult emotions and behaviors, yet is too often overlooked. Seemingly innocuous sensations, such as the texture of carpet, fluorescent lighting, crunchy foods, the hum of a refrigerator,
may be irritating, or even excruciating, to people with autism (“like nails on a chalkboard,” as a client once put it). When thus overstimulated, people with autism may become agitated, avoidant or simply “shut down” and become impassive in order to escape the unpleasant stimulus.
One of the most common goals in art therapy is to increase tolerance for unpleasant stimuli, while channeling self-stimulating behavior into more creative activity.
Because art is naturally enjoyable for almost all children, autistic or not, they are more likely to tolerate textures and smells they might otherwise avoid when they are part of a fun art process. A child might find that he or she can actually cope with handling slimy, paste-covered strips of newspaper, for instance, when it’s part of a fun paper mache craft project. Repeatedly confronting the stimuli they prefer to avoid helps to desensitize kids to them, making it more bearable when they encounter these sensations in daily life. A child who learned to deal with paper mache, for instance, might then find that handling slimy hand soap was no longer so unpleasant.
Sensory fixations are another common feature of autism. Some people may stare in rapt attention at their fingers as they flick them back and forth or endlessly twisting tiny strips of paper. Repetitively engaging in such self-stimulating behaviors (or “stimming”) can make people with autism stand out,
prevent them from interacting with others, and can distract them from other activities, such as school work or play. On the other hand, these sensations may provide some calming, soothing feelings when the person is agitated. In art therapy, the goal is to channel non-functional or inappropriate stimming into socially acceptable, creative outlets.
*Training the nervous system
The nervous system in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder is one of the important aspects. With that, multi-sensory use can help in building their feelings like listening and touching.
For example, use of musical instruments or practices singing periodically and continuously each time different therapy. This method can build communication skills and sensory sensitivity during the therapeutic process. It also corresponds to the unique character and variance of each child with Autism Spectrum Disorder being able to perform a positive interaction during therapy.
Another example that relates to their sense of touch is by using ‘slime,’ clay, kinetic sand and many other forms of craft materials to help them explore and
improve the nervous system.
WAYS TO INCORPORATE AUTISM ART THERAPY AT HOME
PAPER AND CRAYONS:
This is the easiest way to get started. Get out whatever art supplies and let your child have fun.
Autism art therapy does not have to be complicated or even overly structured.
USE TO DE-STRESS
Another way to incorporate autism art therapy at home is using it as a redirection.
Redirecting a child who is overwhelmed with art is a great calming technique.
Before getting into a meltdown, have them draw out how they are feeling or what they want to happen.
Not only will it help with communication, but it will cause them to focus on one activity and calm themselves down.
Pinterest is an autism parent’s best friend! There are so many diy crafts out there for all kids.
One of our favorites we have made is the DIY Sensory Bags for Autism. They are so easy to make, super cheap, and a perfect calming tool for later too! Autism art therapy is an amazing resource for children with autism. It is so easy to incorporate into everyday life. So get your pencils, paints
and so much more art materials out and get to doodling, crafting, painting and so much more! You’ll be really surprised and amazed to see inside your child a talented artist of some kind.
In addition to its efficacy in improving sensory, social and emotional functioning, art therapy is an excellent treatment for autism because it is inherently reinforcing. Kids get enjoyment, stress relief and a boost to their self confidence from tackling art projects or simply exploring art materials.
That they are practicing life skills while doing so may not enter their minds.
Art therapy is a unique form of treatment for autism, as it helps mitigate symptom, while also channeling autistic behaviors into an expressive, creative outlet. It promotes communication, emotional growth and sensory integration while also fostering social interaction in a fun setting.
Hi all, I want to say before I begin this topic that has been shared about based on World Autism Day 2020 that some of this will be based on my own opinions, thoughts and experiences along with having some conversations with others in the autistic community. I believe that despite this time of year the term of autism awareness and autism acceptance has been debated and thrown about to others that are
autistic of it making a hot debate and or topic for us to discuss when it is the month of World Autism Month, week or day. I know that with that being said that there’ll be a difference of opinions and so on, but I would like to ask you all to be kind to me as I share these thoughts and opinions with you all today.
I am also willing to learn and to be open to listen to your thoughts and opinions about this topic and more by feeling free to share them in the comments below and in saying this for commenting below, be kind to one another. As again I said that everyone will have different opinions.
I know that I am as of late in sharing some of the stuff based on Autism related topics for World Autism Month but I am hoping to bring out to you some and that I am all about raising awareness and acceptance on autism and mental health as well as advocating and educating you all. But, here I am hopefully, today to basically share with you all about some of the ones I want to share.
As you have heard my story also about my diagnosis with autism and my other personal struggles with this and more on my channel and other medias and if you’ve not seen my diagnosis story and that feel free to click here to watch about my Diagnosis Story https://youtu.be/05GeIQn1gCU to find out more about me more as an autistic or just my everyday autistic diagnosis.
World Autism Awareness week or as some people would call it World Autism Acceptance week as again there’s going to be a divide to how or what people would like to call this event based on their experience, understanding and preference. I made a video about this last year (Reference: AUTISM AWARENESS AND AUTISM ACCEPTANCE/REPLACING AUTISM AWARENESS WITH AUTISM ACCEPTANCE :https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCnu1oOhJ50)
As we know that it’s now here as usually it is on April 2nd on most years that has been coming
for this of this autism acceptance month especially and although this year of 2020 has bought us a surprise that due to some unforeseen obstacles or circumstances we still do need to work alot more of awareness as well as acceptance yet I believe that at the moment that people are aware of this condition of Autism as it is starting to be known yet some may have some misunderstandings about what autism is still and that some people are still ignorant or arrogant due to the you know the lack of knowing what it is along with that promoting acceptance as part of this package as well.(Reference: Autism Awareness & Acceptance [April 2019]/ Autism Acceptance-Wear Red Instead: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLg7_a22v20)
For many of us that are trying to raise awareness and acceptance of Autism, many of us on the autistic community especially are like herding cats and I must say sometimes with these cats I say that they tend to be really angry and a bit aggressive as I’ve noticed in some of the autistic community groups
I’ve been in. Some of them has been aggressive and some have been pointing the finger at me or not just pointing the finger at me but bashing about you know that this should be said this way or that way and so on and so forth. But, I’m not going into the jiff of what was going down. I believe that in myself that there are or should be some unity and coming together is a really important factor in the community
so that we can then learn and advocate and or educate others about autism than ever before. When you have people that has the common traits of autism such as being detail orientated, who like to do their own thing, maybe obsessed with the one thing and so on and so forth for some of the common traits of autistics or people with autism. These are just to name a few just as I said before of these common traits. (Reference: Characteristic Traits In A Female with Aspergers Syndrome: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjZmz0KXL5M)
( Reference: Obsessions and Interests in Autistic Children https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbGWzd72Jh0 )
It may come as a surprise sometimes that being an autistic can be an everyday struggle and is a difficulty for us to come together that as just as a one community as an autistic community and as to also to be the just the one voice but this need to be necessary to make social progress in today’s world.
So, the question is what is the difference between autism awareness and autism acceptance. Well, I have shared again this topic also last year which you can find here (Reference: Introduction to World Autism Awareness Acceptance Month/Life as an Aspie [April, 2019]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZSq_hY-oVU&t=487)
But, I shall be short and brief in this part to what it is now to give you all a recap.
Autism awareness is all about people who are autistics that are raising awareness and that again as I said earlier many people are aware about autism.
This event of autism awareness started earlier than autism acceptance as autism awareness Insert image of a family became a idea by autistic adults and children way back in the year of the 1970s to really let people know about the existence of autism is there and did exist then as it does now yet it wasn’t quite common back then as it is now based on the lacking of research and information in the 70s
Yet, in this time period that it was a time where they can raise awareness based on talking about the signs and symptoms,peoples experiences of what life is like for them as an autistic as mainly from a parent view and perspective on this to also to some people with little or knowledge of Autism to bring greater awareness and understanding of autism to the general public. Most of the autistics in the autistic community do see this as a negative idea or conception.
Last year, I shared about the Light It Up Blue campaign that is organised by the organization of Autism Speaks and has been adopted out to other organizations in the last few years worldwide and my thoughts and opinions as well as some research on it (Reference: AAAW Why I WILL NOT Support LIGHT IT UP BLUE/My Personal Opinion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45LTmSFdSkg )
as I don’t wish to go too much into detail in it to cause any more debate.
I did share to why some autistics don’t light it up blue as well as my own personal opinion along with research. Let’s just say here quick smart though before I begin onto it, Some of these organisations that we may hear about aren’t properly run by actually autistic people. I believe strongly that with some of these stunts that are being done, however, it’s minimal due to a lot of planning and resources along with a lot of money and it’s a waste of money. Light it up blue campaign was a campaign raised at the time for the majority of young boys that were diagnosed with autism and that it wasn’t known that it was known for many years that are supposingly a diagnosis for men and boys alike.
And it wasn’t known it to be for females that could also have autism due to us females usually masks) or having other diagnosis on top of that first of autism- be it like schizophrenia or bipolar and the like before the specialists do diagnose us with Autism. (Reference: Autistic Females and Masking [2018 https://youtu.be/NRgs74MyHvw).
With autism awareness that this term is flawed I believe in many ways and one of the ways is that this is known for medical experts wanting us to be cured.
I have also shared this in one of my videos (Reference: Should there be a Cure for AUTISM?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbjMKpwbUWU ) and that being different is a bad thing for many centuries. People that put a negative spin on people that are different doesn’t seem right at all.
I’m not the only one now that doesn’t accept this as many other autistic people who I have been talking to are trying to push back the narrative of this as well now. As this is now being disorganized, and documented or even doctrinised yet nowadays. Many autistics are now bringing in the hashtag of #redinstead. I’m hoping to take part in this movement again this year even if its on the second.
(Reference:Autism Awareness & Acceptance [April 2019]/ Autism Acceptance-Wear Red Instead https://youtu.be/PLg7_a22v20 )
While Autism Acceptance Day has claimed to be on April 2nd yet on the other hand autism acceptance of the #redinstead is on April 1st.
On the other hand that is where autism acceptance began. This stance began in the 1990s. This has grown ever since.This started almost the same way as autism awareness did but only difference here how it started was this was started by autistic people as this was due to when the autism awareness movement began as an opposition to autism awareness is all about what I shared earlier light it up blue and as for autism acceptance is all about hashtag movement of #redinstead. These terms will be seen more of when it comes down to when we have this month of World Autism Day. This day of autism acceptance also is a way of taking action.
As many of us will be taking action on behalf of the autistic community or behalf of ourselves as autistics. Autism acceptance is all about showcasing the skills and talents that we have as an autistic. As we know that there’s many autistics with many different skills and talents out there and it’s all about being able to be brave enough to show it to the world around us.
However, as we know with acceptance at the end of the day will open a wider door of opportunities, fortunes and so much more. And, this opens it up all the way to gain a better understanding of autism
and autistic people as a whole.
As we know that historically April 1st is known to be a day where people do pranks on others and just making fun of people in general. As we should know that there are many autistic people out there that are literal thinkers as this again is one of their common traits can be known for and are easy targets
for the malicious and callous behaviours of others that aren’t accepting of others that are different. Many of us do hate April Fools Day anyways which is why us autistics has chosen to reclaim that day however for autism awareness vs. autism acceptance.. We know that these days it may not serve any purpose or reason for April Fools Day but for just any businesses of people that wastes their time, money and energy to do pranks. So, on the other hand us autistics has claimed this day as a day of kindness.
As we know that you maybe asking how you can help this year to raise acceptance this year.
Yes, I am aware that you are also thinking and saying to me that hang on a minute Aspie, you do realise that we are in lock-down? Yes, I do. I hear you!
But, what you can do while in lock-down for this day I have given you just a few suggestions to give to you during this time of acceptance as acceptance to me also involves inclusion of autistics as well as giving compliments to others, write notes to each other, write a letter to an autistic led organisation, maybe feel free, if you feel you want to, to guest blog on some autistic related blogs or what have you, make a gift for someone or write a song and so much more. These ideas I am sharing with you is all about the act of kindness and using the hashtag term #redinstead.
Amplify this by other social medias that are doing this movement.Showing this to others about kindness of the #redinstead will then therefore bring out more acceptance of others that are on the autism spectrum.
The date for World Autism Day has been purposefully documented and dated for anyone that doesn’t support light it up blue or red instead as well as we also has the option of light it up gold.
Also, in this day of World Autism Awareness Day I feel it should be changed to World Acceptance Day on April 2nd as I believe that there’s a lot of awareness already yet we got a long way to go in accepting others that are different as I feel it should be World Autism Acceptance Day due to there’s still lacking
of acceptance of autistic people and that for us autistics we shouldn’t feel like we’re discriminated, needing to change our thoughts, looks and more just to fit in the neurotypical world.
I believe since there’s a lacking of autistic voices to be heard and this day should be claimed by the autistics as a coming out day similarly in borrowing the LGBT movement and in this movement we should use the hashtag #autisticgold or #goinggoldforautism.
I understand that many autistics do not dare wish to come out claiming that they’re autistic by being feared of being judged, fear of rejection and many other reasons behind this.
I fully understand and feel this wholeheartedly as I was one of them once upon a time.
Autism for some people that are diagnosed with this that they still feel deeply ashamed about and most of the reactions we get from parents, friends, family and others are really harsh and negative when many autistics are trying to approach the subjects of this matter.So, the only way to see that is to let society see the numbers and of mass of people coming out as Autistics and let others know that we’re not ashamed of who and what we are. Please for anyone of you who are watching this as I am encouraging you to come out as an autistic and that you still feel you’re not ready to do so, don’t have to do this yet, just do it in your time and when you feel that you’re strong and ready to proclaim
and accept that you’re autistic.I’m not saying that everyone on this day of Autism Acceptance should come out far from it as this is for the people that are already ready to take the stand in accepting themselves along with having supporting networks from friends, family and organisations and so on. So, that everyone else can see as we lead by example that we’re being led by an autistic community or society.With that being said that this then should be normalized and accepted by society and also people in the community as well as a voice for the community and society alone.
As we are aware that we are limited to the hashtags activism groups but I believe if we can be proud and accepting of ourselves being autistic, we have the power to do more for autism
acceptance. Think for example the LGBT movement in how they work. This movement is now being more common and accepted in some parts of the world and in society.For this change to take effect, as we know it will not happen immediately over time. So, it will take time and patience and if we are brave enough to do so we can do more.In the time of Autism Awareness day that was brought to our understanding how it all began with autistic adults and again in the neurotypical adults
that we should all come together as one to co-exist somehow for us to accept the other side and validate our own experiences. I believe that if we did come together that we can work together by
educating the public about autism. The fact and reality is that autism isn’t an illness or a need to be cured. (Reference: AAWM 2018/Do I want a cure for Autism [Shortened Version] : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzokIV2cqRU)
Autism to many people will see it in a lot of ways. Some may say it’s a blessing, curse, tragedy, superpower and so much more. It’s who and what we are under that label we are still humans with talents, gifts, feeling and emotions like all of you neurotypical people out there.
It’s not going away as this condition is going to be a part of us for the rest of our lives.
We know that life is too short and should never take life for granted and that we should all now honor and respect ourselves for once.
So, just to wrap this video up as recap to end this that 1) April 1st is that we reclaim the light it up blue narrative and go red instead.
- April 2nd is the autistic coming out day using the hashtag #autisticgold or goinggoldforautism.
(Going for Gold for Autism Awareness Acceptance Month.
- Differences between autism awareness and autism acceptance. These two terms do interlink and work together one way or another.
I believe it’s all again about accepting each others differences as people rather than someone who has something like a mental illness or autism
as this should help the conversation to go further.
Hey you! Are you an Autistic Person? Are you a person with Autism? What do I really need to call you? More importantly, who am I and what do I see myself
as an individual? Argh! Stop calling me some of these first languages as you should know that really grinds my gears, guys. As we know that words and language are powerful tools by which an individual can express ideas, thoughts and more whether it is abstract, actionable or concrete.
I myself as an individual know firsthand and understand full darn well that language and the meanings towards words can very much impact someone no matter who and what they are as a person. We as individuals I believe do tend to attach to some of the words very much for impact and influence and even more so developing and changing the attitudes that we have towards the subjects and or matters of discussion. That’s why many people I have spoken to or heard from are easily insulted
or upset by the everyday word choices that we have.
I am here today to try and explain to you all right now about this topic as this is really controversial for many of us that are autistics. Before, I begin this
this is just based on what I’ve experienced and known all my time after talking to some people on the autistic community to how they may feel. So, please
respect me into what I will share.
It has been known for quite sometime now for many of us autistics that we meet some people that has some misunderstanding and misconceptions about autistics no
matter what it is.
So, the question of many that we would be asking ourselves right now is how did people first language come about? People first language is also known or called as person first language which is a linguistic description which will usually put a person before their actual
diagnosis of any kind and in this case the many terms that I just used right now for autistics. This linguistic description usually describes what a person “has” than asserting to what a person “is.”
Rather than using labels to define individuals with a health issue, it’s more appropriate to use terminology, which describes individuals as being diagnosed with an illness or disorder.
This was supposed to be intended to avoid any marginalization and/or dehumanization (either consciously or subconsciously) when discussing people with a chronic illness
or disability. Again, I shall remove that term disability as I don’t feel this is the right word I am looking for. Term I will use is as I have done in the past is people with different conditions. This may have been seen as a type of a disability etiquette but person-first language can also be more generalized to any group otherwise known or can be defined or mentally categorized by a condition or a trait (examples that are sometimes known for doing so are race, age or appearance along
with the different sexuality types).
Person-first language usually avoids using labels or adjectives to define someone, utilizing terms such as ‘A person with diabetes’ or’a person with alcoholism’
instead of what we hear is “a diabetic’ or ‘an alcoholic’. With this being said, the intention here is that a person is seen first and foremost as a person with some given specific trait or characteristic. Some advocates that I’ve spoken to or even heard from has usually have a person-first language point to the failure to mentally separate the person from the traits or characteristics and the person is either inherently bad or inferior, leading to the point where discrimination takes place. Another example for you all to gain a better understanding is “a person with a substance use disorder” has a fair chance of achieving long-term remission yet many years it has been changed to calling these type of people “substance abusers”
Another question that you are thinking to yourselves as you’re reading and/or watching this today is why are we self-advocates so opposed to some of these terms that has
been clearly shared just now. Aren’t we all about emphasizing and correcting inaccurate, misleading and harmful stereotypes and their attitudes towards all of this?
For sure, some of us may get offended yet some of us or shall we say majority of us no matter what we are and who we are wants to be seen as a person that has equal rights, values and worth. One argument I encountered in one of the more cogently-written papers in favor of person-first language expostulates that because cancer patients are referred to as “people with cancer” or “people who have cancer,” as opposed to “cancerous people,” the same principle should be used with autism. There are some fundamental flaws with this analogy, however.
This is another examples of many that I hear about.
Cancer is a disease that ultimately kills if not treated or put into long-term remission.
There is absolutely nothing positive, edifying, or meaningful about cancer.
Cancer is not a part of a person’s identity or the way in which an individual experiences and understands the world around him or her.
It is not all-pervasive.
We need to remember that Autism isn’t a disease as I’ve clearly shared this so many times what Autism is which I will link in the icard and description box below
to gain a better understanding of this if you’ve not seen these. I have clearly shared that it’s a neurological and developmental condition. It has now been classed
as a disorder yet this is really disabling in many varied ways.
There has been some critics that has objected that people-first language is awkward, repetitive and make for some tiresome reading and writing. A sociologist by the name of C. Edwin Vaughan as well as a longtime activist for the blind argues that since “in common usage positive pronouns usually precede
nouns” The awkwardness of the preferred language focuses on the disability in a new and potentially negative way. According to Edwin Vaughan,it only serves to focus’ on disability in an ungainly new way and calls attention to a person as having some type of “marred identity” in terms of Erving Goffman’s theory of identity.
Erving Goffman’s Face and Stigma Theory Explained
In 1963, Erving Goffman published Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity.
It is an examination of how an individual protects their personal identify if they depart from an approved standard of conduct, behavior, or appearance.
It is essentially a way for people to manage an impression of themselves.
For most people, the primary method used to avoid stigma is concealment.
This is because the perception of a stigma will often result in shame. There is a personal disappointment in an inability to meet the standards that other
people or society in general has set for them. There is also a fear of being discredited, which causes an individual to conceal whatever shortcomings they feel that
Think of a person with a criminal record. They might withhold this information when meeting someone new to prevent being judged off of the record instead of
who they are as a person.
This is expanded upon in an essay by Goffman called “Face Work,” which was published in Interaction Ritual and originally written in 1955. When combined,
Goffman notes that there are three types of symbolic imagery which influence how individuals may think, act, or react. These are stigma symbols, prestige symbols,
and what Goffman calls “disidentifiers.”
How Face and Stigma Theory Is Applied?
Goffman offers the idea that the interactions people have with one another on a daily basis are like a theatrical performance. This is especially true when two strangers encounter one another. Each person has the goal of controlling the first impression that the other individual has of them.
They will guide this impression by withholding information, altering their own setting, or even changing their appearance and mannerisms to create the desired
The performance is likened to what happens on a theatrical stage because there are two elements: what is provided to the audience and what occurs backstage.
This creates a dual role for each person.
For the onstage performance, an individual becomes the person they feel an individual wants them to be or what society demands of them. It is what occurs through
social interactions and results in positive self-concepts when the desired first impression is offered and then successfully received. For the backstage performance, there doesn’t actually need to be a performance. It is a place that is hidden and private, allowing individuals the opportunity
to drop the role or identity that they offer to the world. There is no longer a need to follow the demands that society offers here. At the same time this face-to-face “performance” is happening, the individual attempting to garner an accurate first impression of the individual is working to
obtain more information from them.
Goffman notes that he believes this practice is performed because it offers both people an opportunity to avoid embarrassment. This is because society is a living, breathing entity. Every person feels the need to act differently in changing situations.
Social Model Of Disability – How It Works?
In the social model of disability, a person is disabled by societal and environmental factors. To explain more briefly about this model as it’s called The social model of disability identifies systemic barriers, derogatory attitudes, and social exclusion (intentional or inadvertent), which make it difficult
or impossible for individuals with impairments to attain their valued functioning. The social model of disability diverges from the dominant medical model of disability, which is a functional analysis of the body as machine to be fixed in order to conform with normative values. While physical, sensory, intellectual, or psychological variations may cause individual functional limitation or impairments, these do not necessarily have to lead to disability unless society fails to take account of and include people regardless of their individual differences.
Medical model versus the social model of disability
|Medical Model||Social Model|
|Disability is a deficiency or abnormality.||Disability is a difference.|
|Being disabled is negative.||Being disabled, in itself, is neutral.|
|Disability resides in the individual.||Disability arises from interactions between the individual and society.|
|The remedy for disability-related problems is cure or normalization of the individual.||The remedy for disability-related problems is a change in the interactions between the individual and society.|
|The agent of remedy is the professional who affects the arrangements between the individual and society.||The agent of remedy can be the individual, an advocate, or anyone who affects the arrangements between the individual and society.|
|As an educator, you have no responsibility to ensure accessibility; that is the job of the experts.||As an educator, you are responsible for creating an accessible environment where all your students can learn.|
Accessible Education aims to reduce dependence on the accommodation approach and move toward inclusion.
The social model of disability is based on a distinction between the terms impairment and disability. In this model, the word impairment is used to refer to the actual attributes (or lack of attributes) that affects a person, such as the inability to walk or breathe independently.
The word disability is used to refer to the restrictions caused by society when it does not give equivalent attention and accommodation to the needs of individuals with impairments.
Hence, why I believe that this model needs to be changed and updated for training and educational purposes.
(Discuss more later in one my next articles or vlog)
Autism activist, Jim Sinclair rejects the ideal of person-first language, on the grounds of saying “person with autism’ suggests that autism can be separated from person. There are many organizations to this day still use person-first language especially in the autistic community and one of these organizations
that are known for this is Autistic Self Advocacy Network and Lydia Brown had to say this about the heated topic at hand.
In the autism community, many self-advocates and allies prefer terminology such as “autistic” “Autistic person.” or “autistic individual” we understand autism as an inherent part of the individual’s identity… It is impossible to affirm the value and worth of an autistic person without recognizing him or her
identity as an autistic person. Referring to me as ‘a person with autism’ or ‘an individual with Autism Spectrum Disorder’ demeans who I am because it denies who I am.. When we say ‘person with autism’ we say that it’s unfortunate and an accident that a person is autistic. We affirm that the person has value and worth, and that autism is entirely separate from what gives him or her value and worth. In fact, we are saying that autism is detrimental to value and worth as a person, which is why we separate the condition with the word “with” or “has” Ultimately, what we are saying when we say ‘person with autism’ is that the person would be better off if not autistic, and that it would have been better if he or she has been born typical.
What I found most interesting in reading this selection of articles and blog posts along with trying to get as much involved in the autistic community is that many of the same arguments are used for both positions, but with separate sides, naturally, coming to very divergent and contradictory conclusions.
Firstly, I saw in at least two articles in favor of using “person with autism” that the authors strongly oppose language referring to disabilities like “suffers from,” (i.e. “Alan suffers from Asperger’s syndrome;” “Joey, an autism sufferer;” etc.) which has traditionally been a talking point of self-advocates as well. I do understand that not everyone who supports the use of terminology “person with autism” would disagree with language like “suffers from,” but it is still interesting that there are those who do. It suggests a fundamental shared value — that people with different neurological conditions are not “suffering” because of their difference or disability.
Secondly, as alluded earlier, those on both sides want to emphasize the value and worth of the person. Person-first language advocates believe the best way to do this is through literally putting the noun identifying “person” before any other identifiers. (As noted in one of the other articles opposing person-first language, however, English is a language that puts adjectives before nouns, whereas there are multiple languages that always place adjectives after nouns.
In Spanish, for example, “person with autism” is “persona con autismo,” while “Autistic person” becomes “persona autística.” In both cases, autism/Autistic follows the noun.) Person-first language opponents believe the best way to do this is by recognizing and edifying the person’s identity as an Autistic person as opposed to shunting an essential part of the person’s identity to the side in favor of political correctness.
It is impossible to affirm the value and worth of an Autistic person without recognizing his or her identity as an Autistic person. Referring to me as “a person with autism,” or “an individual with Autism Spectrum Disorder” demeans who I am because it denies who I am.
Lastly, what is most interesting indeed is the shared expressed sentiments that using or not using person-first language is necessary to change and shift societal attitudes toward Autistic people. Returning to the premise of this article, this is the sole reason why this debate continues to be argued and why many people on both sides regularly emerge upset and feel personally attacked. Language does play a large role in shaping societal attitudes.
But let’s think about what we are doing when we use these terms. When we say “person with autism,” we say that it is unfortunate and an accident that a person is Autistic. We affirm that the person has value and worth, and that autism is entirely separate from what gives him or her value and worth. In fact, we are saying that autism is detrimental to value and worth as a person, which is why we separate the condition with the word “with” or “has.” Ultimately, what we are saying when we say “person with autism” is that the person would be better off if not Autistic, and that it would have been better if he or she had been born typical. We suppress the individual’s identity as an Autistic person because we are saying that autism is something inherently bad like a disease.
Yet, when we say “Autistic person,” we recognize, affirm, and validate an individual’s identity as an Autistic person. We recognize the value and worth of that individual as an Autistic person — that being Autistic is not a condition absolutely irreconcilable with regarding people as inherently valuable and worth something. We affirm the individual’s potential to grow and mature, to overcome challenges and disability, and to live a meaningful life as an Autistic. Ultimately, we are accepting that the individual is different from non-Autistic people–and that that’s not a tragedy, and we are showing that we are not afraid or ashamed to recognize that difference.
That’s why, when I read a few articles scoffing entirely at the debate, and dismissing it as ultimately irrelevant (insisting that each person should use the terminology he or she prefers and to ignore what other people say or write), I was concerned. The question of person-first language is definitely important and cannot be disregarded. The way we use language affects those around us — in our immediate communities and in society at large. Trends of language have the power to transform ideas and attitudes. To dismiss this as “a silly semantics argument” denies the power of language.
What does, however, disturb me is the vitriol during debates about this (and similar) topics in the autism community. While it is, as repeatedly emphasized, an important debate with huge ramifications both short-term and long-term, hurling ad hominem insults, making baseless accusations, and shouting over tables (or computer screens) at the people on the other side ultimately demeans both you and them. It shows great immaturity, inability to civilly and peaceably discuss important topics, and insensitivity to the personal experiences vested in each of us with a stake in this debate. Having strong opinions on a topic and being able to have a respectful discussion with someone else are not mutually exclusive.
I guess now the question comes to you all is what do I call myself?
I usually call myself an Aspie a cliniclal slang term that means person with Aspergers and removing the word “syndrome” it doesn’t belong there.
I also shared some more of the thoughts of these terms in my other video which I shall link it here in the icard and description box for you all to watch after this
video to gain more understanding again.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST THE LAST QUESTION IS HOW DO WE MOVE ON FORWARD OR HOW CAN WE MOVE FORWARD
So what can we do moving forward? Or, more importantly, what should we do? To those of you who use “person with autism,” I will always respect your constitutional right to express yourself however you like, but I urge you to reconsider the consequences of using such language.
To those of you who use “Autistic person,” I urge you to consistently use such phrasing everywhere possible, whenever discussing autism and issues that affect
Autistic people, and to develop coherent, rational explanations for why you prefer this terminology, so that you can engage in such mutually respectful and
civil exchanges with others.
That, actually, goes for everyone. If we ever want to accomplish anything as a community, as a movement, or as advocates, we cannot allow ourselves to be constantly divided by infighting and vicious bullying — and yes, that occurs from all sides of these debates, not just one. It is imperative that we learn to engage critically and respectfully with one another, and to value each individual’s voice and feelings as equally important. Otherwise, we’ll become even more dysfunctional than my subcommittee has been in recent months.