Sunday, July 25, 2010

In Their Own Words

I want to draw attention to another post made by Kerry Magro on the Autism Speaks blog. Mr. Magro, who apparently is interning for Autism Speaks and will be a senior at Seton Hall this coming year, outlines some of the challenges involved in obtaining “reasonable accommodations” in a college setting. During his description, he provides many helpful insights from his own experience of striving towards independence, with and without support.

Mr. Magro's post is straightforward, accurate and informative, which puts it in stark contrast to nearly all the other posts made on the Autism Speaks blog, including many posts made by non-autistic individuals under the banner of “In Their Own Words” (oh, the irony of it all). These other posts have dealt primarily with such matters as the challenge of being a parent to an autistic individual, the challenge of being the sibling of an autistic individual, the challenge of being an autism researcher working with mouse models, and the challenge of baking autism advocacy cookies. But when it comes to addressing the actual challenges and rewards of autism itself, that mantle is successfully assumed only when Autism Speaks resorts to that rarest of events, publishing the words that come straight from an autistic individual (oh, the doubled-back irony of it all).

It would be hard for me to overemphasize how much this culture can actually learn about autism simply by allowing autistic individuals to speak for themselves and in their own words. Hey, Autism Speaks, are you really listening?


jonathan said...

For once we are in agreement on something. I am still waiting for autism speaks to have one paid employee with autism in their organization and to do something to help autistic people obtain jobs other then their dog and pony autism in the workplace show and funding michelle dawson's research so she can improve her CV

Autism Reality NB said...

What about those persons with Autistic Disorder who can not speak for themselves? Who do you suggest should speak for them? A parent who lives with them every day, cares for them and has legal and moral responsibility for their care of a high functioning person who does not know them, has nothing in common with them and does not share a common diagnosis?

Alan Griswold said...

The baseline standard is to allow and encourage autistic individuals to speak for themselves, and if an autistic individual has difficulty speaking for himself, the goal is to help, and still encourage, that individual to speak for himself. Such an approach is routinely used with non-autistic individuals, but Mr. Doherty (Autism Reality NB) seems to have no interest in any of these possibilities when it comes to autistic individuals.