Henry Frost is 13-year-old autistic boy who wants to go to his neighborhood school. He says:
Today I read about Martin Luther King.
The worksheet said because of Dr King’s work, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 gave equal rights to all people.
I am a person.
I want these rights.
I want to go to school in my neighborhood.
Why can’t I?
Amy Sequenzia says:
Some parents prefer that their special-needs child be included; some parents are more comfortable with a special-needs class. I think much depends on where the schools are and on the services available. I believe inclusion should always be the goal. If not possible from the beginning, it should happen at a later grade.
But when a child, a young teenager, asks to be included, when he promises to work harder than anyone; when he is supported by family and friends in his studies; when he shows critical thinking and understanding of his rights, he should not only be accepted by the school he chooses, he should be invited to join the school.
What Henry is doing is advocating for his rights, at the same time that he reminds us of our own rights and about how far we still have to go.
Warning: strong language.
Last month, Amanda at Ballastexistenz wrote about being accosted by someone who was so intrusive that it made it impossible for her to communicate using her AAC device:
I’m not a child. I don’t pinky swear. I don’t do patronizing sing-song voices. I don’t like to be touched by strangers and I don’t like strangers trying to force me to look at their faces, touch them, or promise them anything. And I don’t like being called a shithead for not responding to these things or looking terrified by these things. That goes double if you said shithead in the same light-hearted, patronizing way you would to a cat who just put their teeth on you for petting them too long. So don’t think that “I was just joking” would change my mind.
Oh and if you wonder why I didn’t just type this when I was with you? Because your presence rendered me unable to type from the get-go. That’s always a very bad sign for any future interactions. It doesn’t just happen around random people, it happens around people who are peculiarly invasive.
This week, Amanda explains how she prepared to respond to that woman, which included making a page in Proloquo2Go with phrases she might need:
I tried to make it so that I could use various levels of politeness, forcefulness, and rudeness depending on the situation. One way I did this was with different icons. Obviously, “leave me alone” and “fuck off” are very different. But another way I did it was by adding icons for “please” and “now”, the two squares outlined in blue. This made it so, by hitting two buttons in a row, I could say “please leave me alone” or “leave me alone now”. So I have a pretty good variety of intensity I can use.
She also practiced using the page, and was able to do so successfully.
And it is important to understand what she has to say about the need for people who use AAC to be able to tell others when they need to be left alone:
It is absolutely vital that people who use communication devices, have ways to respond to violations of our basic boundaries. Disabled people are far more likely than others to have others behave invasively with us, ranging from subtle to violent. People teach us from our earliest years onward that such invasion is normal, natural, and something we should accept without complaint. We have to have the means to say no...
I’ll also never forget the time someone made an asinine comment when I was out in public. I typed a response and stuck the speaker up to his ear so he could hear it. All his friends burst out laughing. One of them said “Dude, that guy’s cussing you out using a machine!” Which is… so much not the response I was going for.
That exploration of what autism is and could be was born of the fact that Kring has a son who lives with the condition; as such, he’s taking care to see that Touch‘s fictional aspects are founded in scientific fact.
“Tim feels very responsible to stay true to [autism] in that regard,” says Sutherland, “so we’re not go to be making stuff up to explain stuff. We’re going to deal with the medicine and what doctors know.”
Because all autistic kids should be on medicine, right? Ugh.
Gadling takes a look at autism-friendly hotels.
The Vine School in Victoria reports on the success they are having with Vantage Lite's assistive communication devices.
Two anthologies are seeking submission from autistic writers.
The Loud Hands Project is looking for:
Autistic contributors willing to reflect in written form on questions about neurodiversity, Autistic pride and culture, disability rights and resistance, and resilience (known collectively as having loud hands.) Suggested entry length is 2000-4000 words, though we will consider any submitted format.
Perspectives 2 is looking for poems concerning autism and other disabilities.