by Aidan Dunn, SkillCorps Assistant at Global Autism Project
Hello readers! It’s time for another instalment in my increasingly-infrequent blog series! I hope you had a happy autism awareness day, or at least remembered that we have an autism awareness day. Today, I thought I would talk about being an autistic self-advocate.
As a young adult with Autism, I have first hand experience when it comes to advocating for myself, so it seems natural for me to write about my experiences. As a bonus, I’m fairly certain I haven’t written about this too much before so it’s fresh material. This is gonna be a long post. You might want to get comfortable.
First, a definition: Self- advocacy is just that,- advocating, or taking actions on your own behalf. This sounds simple enough, but for autistics, it’s a bit harder than it seems. The most noticeable facet of autism is that we have difficulty expressing or communicating verbally – some of us are non speaking. This means that even the task of telling people what we want can be a real struggle. It is much easier for us to communicate through writing, but that is of no help in a conversation.
Since we autistics lack verbal communication and executive functioning skills, a lot of us have to rely on others. Just as how a person with a limp may need help climbing a set of stairs, so do we need help managing ourselves.
A lot of us autistics are dependent on those around us and would struggle to live on our own. This is not something that we really want, thus we desire to be able to live and work on our own, hence self-advocacy. Talking to people and managing ourselves are things we struggle with, but to move forward we have to be able to stand on our own. It is a terrible thing to feel that one is completely reliant on others in order to live.
“Humans crave compassion, never pity. To be able to live by and for ourselves, we need to be able to know ourselves, know what our needs are, and we need to know how to get what we need. “
This blog isn’t going to end with me giving out some magic bullet solution to this problem for anyone who’s interested. If a fast, easy, omni-applicable strategy worked there would be no need for anyone to work on these issues.
We do have a number of resources we can use to help ourselves along the way. Executive functioning coaches can tutor you in managing yourself, and there are a number of autistic self advocacy groups that can help us learn to improve our skills. It’s not an easy road for anyone, but we all have to follow it to its end.