Remembering Sandy

Parenting Autistic Children With Love & Acceptance are devastated by the news that Sandy Kinnamon, who had been missing since Sunday, was found deceased earlier today near her home in Allen, TX.  Sandy was formerly a part of the PACLA team, an advocate, an ally to the autistic community, a friend, and most importantly, a loving mom to her beautiful daughters.  Sandy helped to build the PACLA community by advocating for autism acceptance.  In her words and in her actions, she was helping to make a better world for autistic people.  We have lost a dear friend who was known for her compassion, dedication to her daughters, her sense of humor and generosity.  We are overwhelmed with grief for our friend, who has touched so many lives in the autism community.  While this is an incredibly sad day for us at PACLA, we find comfort in knowing how much she meant to so many.   We were all privileged to know Sandy and call her our friend.  
Please share your stories about Sandy at her memorial page:

https://www.facebook.com/RememberingSandyKinnamon/?fref=ts

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Image is of Sandy, beautiful and smiling at the camera

Introducing: The Little Free Neurodiversity Library!

We are so excited about another neurodiversity lending library!  The Little Free Neurodiversity Library serves the community of Omaha, NE and is run by the awesome and multi talented Erin Human.

 

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Image is a blue little free library box with a gray roof filled with multi-colored books.  The letters underneath are LFNL.

 

1.Can you introduce and tell us a little about yourself?

Hello, I’m Erin, cartoonist, blogger, book lover. I’m married with two kids and a cocker spaniel and we live in Omaha. Originally my husband and I are both from the East Coast but we moved to Nebraska in 2006.


2. How are you connected to autism & the neurodiversity movement?

I am autistic and have neurodivergent family members. Since I realized I was autistic I’ve made lots of autistic and otherwise neurodivergent friends too!


3. What thing or things motivated you to want to start a library in your community?

I opened a Little Free Library in 2014 when a PR company reached out to me to promote their campaign on my blog. I love reading and I love sharing books! After following the Ed Wiley Autism Acceptance Library for a while and seeing the idea of a neurodiversity library begin to catch on, it suddenly occurred to me that I could combine the two and make a Little Free Neurodiversity Library.


4. What goals do you have for your library?

The main goal of my library is to educate my community about neurodiversity, autism acceptance, and disability rights. I’d like help some high quality but lesser-known books about neurodiversity and disability, and their authors and editors, to reach a wider audience. And if somehow this could bring together people with a shared interest in neurodversity, even better!


5. How can people support this project?

One way people can support LFNL is to purchase something from my Amazon wish list: http://www.amazon.com/registry/giftlist/LCLMTFOOIKSE

Another thing people can do is to purchase something from my Redbubble store where I sell LFNL shirts, totes, stickers, and more – all of the proceeds from Little Free Library designs will go directly toward purchasing items for the library.  And of course, Liking and sharing the Facebook page is much appreciated!


6. How will you run the library? (space, dates, etc.)

The Little Free Neurodiversity Library is run through my official Little Free Library, Charter #11920. The updated catalog can be viewed at http://lfnl.libib.com and anyone who wants to borrow a book can email me at littleneurodiversitylibrary@gmail.com to arrange a pickup.


7. What has the response been from your community and others?

The response has been great so far from the neurodiversity community and from other local Little Free Library stewards. And also I’ve had tremendous support from the neurodiversity librarians who came before me. I’ve already received three wonderful donations of books and a DVD. The LFNL is still very new so I’m working on getting the word out to the Omaha community; I’ve got a small but growing catalog so I would love to start lending out these wonderful books!


8. Is there anything else you’d like us to know or want to share?

I’d just like to encourage people to email me if they have any questions about the library, neurodiversity, what books I recommend – or if they want to start a neurodiversity library of their own. I’m happy to help when I can!

To learn more about Erin’s Little Free Neurodiversity Library, check them out on Facebook and also, check out Erin’s blog too!

Here’s another article about the LFNL: BookRiot

#PACLAOWies Double OWie! Autonomous Press/Ink & Daggers

PACLA is excited to reveal our 5th and 6th OWie Awards!  

 

The 5th OWie Award in April goes to:  

Autonomous Press!

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Image: blue/green certificate with green filigree frame.  Top left is stamp of PACLA icon.  Bottom of image is watermarked with an arrow shooting through an open window.   Green text in multiple fonts reads: Honoring Autonomous Press.  In appreciation of your radical activism & shifting the Overton Window toward Autism Acceptance & the Neurodiversity Paradigm.  Thank You!       Parenting Autistic Children With Love & Acceptance

 

From the Autonomous Press website:

Autonomous Press (also known as AutPress) is an independent publisher focusing on works about disability, neurodivergence, and the various ways they can intersect with other aspects of identity and lived experience. We are a partnership of  disabled workers including writers, poets, artists, musicians, community scholars, and professors. Each partner takes on a share of the work of managing the press and production, and all of our workers are co-owners.

 

PACLA loves Autonomous Press and if you are the parent of an Autistic child, you should too.  The book “The Real Experts” from Autonomous Press , which was also edited by PACLA contributor and moderator Michelle Sutton, is the first book that every parent of a child with a new diagnosis needs to read.

 

While most books that are geared toward parents of autistic children promote the tragedy and medical models of disability and autism, “The Real Experts” is different.  It’s a resource for parents who choose to embrace autism acceptance and who celebrate neurodiversity.

 

Autonomous Press is pushing the Overton Window and centering the experience and writing of disabled people, who are far too often denied a voice in conversations about us!  

 

Thank you to Autonomous Press and we can’t wait to see what you do next!

 

Autonomous Press on Facebook

Autonomous Press on Twitter

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Our 6th Special Ally OWie award goes to Ink & Daggers Illustration!

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Image: blue/green certificate with green filigree frame.  Top left is stamp of PACLA icon.  Bottom of image is watermarked with an arrow shooting through an open window.   Green text in multiple fonts reads: Honoring Ink & Daggers .  In appreciation of your radical activism & shifting the Overton Window toward Autism Acceptance & the Neurodiversity Paradigm.  Thank You!       Parenting Autistic Children With Love & Acceptance

 

Congratulations and thank you to  Ink & Daggers for your activism and for pushing the Overton Window toward acceptance.  Even in the face of harsh criticism, Ink & Daggers has held their ground and pushed back against intensive interventions and ABA therapies that harm autistic people.   

 

Through their art, Ink & Daggers celebrates autistic communication, neurodiversity, noncompliance and honoring the stim while also helping to bring attention to therapies that dehumanize and traumatize to show people that there is a better way, based on love, respect and acceptance.  

 

Thank you to Ink & Daggers for your activism as an ally to the autistic community!

 

Ink & Daggers on Instagram

Ink & Daggers on Facebook

Ink & Daggers on Twitter

Honoring Amy Sequenzia #PACLAOWies

Parenting Autistic Children With Love & Acceptance is excited to reveal the fourth OWie Award in April!  

Awarded to Autistic Activists who are changing the conversations and shifting the Overton Window toward acceptance!

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Image: blue/green certificate with green filigree frame.  Top left is stamp of PACLA icon.  Bottom of image is watermarked with an arrow shooting through an open window.   Green text in multiple fonts reads: Honoring Amy Sequenzia in appreciation of your radical activism & shifting the Overton Window toward Autism Acceptance & the Neurodiversity Paradigm.  Thank You!       Parenting Autistic Children With Love & Acceptance

 

Congratulations, Amy Sequenzia!

 

Amy  had the second highest amount of nominations for an OWie award!  We love Amy and she is also a part of the PACLA moderating team.  In addition to PACLA, Amy writes for Autism Women’s Network, Ollibean and at her blog NonSpeaking Autistic Speaking, and is a leader in the grassroots Boycott Autism Speaks Movement.  

 

From Amy’s bio:

I am a non-speaking Autistic activist, writer and poet. Once said to be less than human, I found my voice and I now make sure I am heard.

I have epilepsy, which sucks and slows me down but does not stop me, and cerebral palsy, which does not suck.

I look and am very disabled but I have self-determination, my thoughts are my own and my words flow from my brain through my fingers to the screen. I need help with the rest.

NeuroQueer, human rights activist, civil rights activist, disabilities rights activist.

Neurodivergent.

Disabled.

Autistic.

Proud.

 

Amy is also a published poet.  Her young fan, Fallon says this about Amy and her poem “Respect”:

My favorite in the book is “Respect”.   One of the reasons I like this book is because the poet has disabilities, like me.   For one thing, we are both Autistic.  It actually makes me feel good.  I guess you could say that we are both pretty smart.  

“Respect”  teaches what is the name of the poem.  Sometimes, she might not feel respected.  Sometimes, I feel that way too.  I think she knows that she is perfect the way she is.  Maybe people without disabilities don’t think that about us sometimes.

An anonymous parent who nominated Amy for the award had this to say:


Her writings really helped me stand up for my daughter in many situations. She really made me re learn everything I had learned about anything. You all have🙂 but there’s one article that sticks out in my mind that really changed everything for me. She was talking about a sad incident in her life/ but it made me realize the bad info and how I’d fight my hardest for my daughter to get respectful education/therapy and relationships.

But I’m so thankful for her writings. I’m so sorry for the injustices that have been done to her. She’s extremly brave for sharing. I’m nervous just writing this nomination..😬. But long story short/ she woke me up and made me aware.

Thank you, Amy for your work, your writing and your activism that is shifting the window and making a better world for Autistic people every day!

#7DaysOfAction-Guest Post by Mark Neary

Several days ago, we were alerted to this petition about the outrageous and state sanctioned abuse of a young autistic man in the UK who was being kept from his home, his family and community.   Our moderators are largely North American and Australian based,  but we wanted to know more about this.  As it turned out, our friends in the UK said this is not an uncommon thing to happen to disabled people in crisis in the UK.   We wanted to bring attention to this with a guest post on our blog from disability advocate and parent, Mark Neary:

TW: Abuse, institutionalization, ableism

Seven Days of Action by Mark Neary

A few weeks ago, I was invited to join a social media group that had been set up by the relatives of people with learning disabilities that are currently trapped in Assessment & Treatment Units. This issue hits a painful nerve for me because 6 years ago, my son went for 3 three days respite as I was unwell and it took 358 days to get him back home again. Only then and the intervention of a High Court Judge who declared that for the whole year, Steven had been unlawfully detained and his Article 5 & Article 8 Human Rights had been breached.

The families had reached desperation point. All the official channels for challenging the detention remained sealed. We knew that a big push was needed if their sons and daughters were ever to make it back home. Hence, the campaign “7 Days of Action” was started on 18th April 2016. The aim of the campaign is to raise public awareness of the kinds of impoverished lives lived by the learning disabled people in these Units. Ultimately, the aim is to bring pressure to bear on the decision makers and to bring these good people home. They haven’t committed any crime. In most cases, they don’t have a diagnosed mental health condition. They are there because they are learning disabled and the State doesn’t want to fund a life for them in their own homes.

You may be asking, what is an Assessment & Treatment Unit. It’s a good question. One thing is for sure through the evidence of the campaign is that neither assessment, nor treatment takes place there. They are holding pens. Warehouses for people who the State is not prepared to fund home care for. Whilst someone is in an ATU, the cost is normally bore by the NHS. The Local Authority and the Local Clinical Commissioning Groups don’t have to pay a penny. And there is the rub. When it is time for the person to be discharged, neither of the aforementioned groups is in a hurry to pick up the cost of providing the care and the person is left to vegetate in the ATU.

Here are some alarming ATU facts and figures:

As of 30th September 2015 there were exactly 3,000 people in specialist learning disability inpatient services.

According to their care plan, 950 people (32%) do not need inpatient care.

1,300 people (43%) had been in their current service between 1 and 5 years

895 people (30%) had been continuously in these services for 5 years or more

1,225 people (43%) were in an inpatient service more than 50km from their home.

The average weekly cost per person of an ATU placement is £3563

2,155 people (72%) were given antipsychotic medication in the 28 days before the census date.

Seven Days of Action believes that it is important for the human stories behind these figures to be told. So, over the seven days, seven stories will be told and published on the blog each day.

Stories like Eden, who is now entering his 8th year in an ATU. Eden has gained 16 stone in weight in those 8 years due to the heavy doses of anti-psychotic medication he is injected with weekly. He is fed his food through a hatch.

Stories like Robert, who is 250 miles from his home. Even the Responsible Clinician in Robert’s case is supporting his move back home but the Local Authority is not prepared to fund it.

Stories like Tianze, who was moved from Scotland to England. His family moved home to be near him and then the commissioners moved him again. Since being in the ATU, Tianze has started self-harming and he is repeatedly subjected to prone restraint.

Stories like Stephen, who has now been away from home for five years. His family were recently blocked from hiring a respected psychologist to offer a second opinion on Stephen’s care.

Stories like Jack, who regularly gets anxious about his home leave being cancelled, which leads to his home leave being cancelled.

Stories like Chris. 5 years ago a High Court Judge ordered his Local Authority to provide a home care plan for Chris but it took a further five years for Chris to return home.

Stories like Thomas, who died in an ATU in 2015. His mother had made repeated, desperate attempts for the Unit to arrange medical treatment for Thomas. Her calls were ignored and Thomas died.

Where are the Human Rights of these seven guys and the other 2993 people currently detained in Assessment & Treatment Units? It is easy to overlook this when learning disabled people are viewed as not quite human.

Recently, most of the British reported on their front pages the story of a dog that had been held in appalling conditions by its owner for two years.

Eden’s story will probably not make the front pages.

To follow the stories on the blog and find out how you can support the Seven Days of Action campaign, see here: https://theatuscandal.wordpress.com/

To meet the families and supporters of the campaign, you can join the Facebook group at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/450610325109249/

Or you can follow the campaign on Twitter at #7Daysofaction

Thank you for your support.

 

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Honoring Respectfully Connected #PACLAOWies

Parenting Autistic Children With Love & Acceptance is excited to reveal the third OWie Award in April!  

Awarded to Autistic Activists who are changing the conversations and shifting the Overton Window toward acceptance!

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Image: blue/green certificate with green filigree frame.  Top left is stamp of PACLA icon.  Bottom of image is watermarked with an arrow shooting through an open window.   Green text in multiple fonts reads: Honoring Respectfully Connected  in appreciation of your radical activism & shifting the Overton Window toward Autism Acceptance & the Neurodiversity Paradigm.  Thank You!       Parenting Autistic Children With Love & Acceptance

The team at Respectfully Connected had plenty of nominations, individually and as a group.  We decided to honor all of them this week for our Third OWie award in April.   

 

In gentle parenting communities, there is often so much ableism, as if parenting disabled, autistic or neurodivergent children has different rules and expectations of respect than parenting typically developing children.  We love Respectfully Connected because they combine radical autism acceptance with gentle and respectful parenting.   

 

From their blog:

“This blog exists to share the authors stories, with the hope they will empower and encourage other parents on their journey with the knowledge that there is a gentler, more compassionate way of raising autistic children than much of society tells us, and that close attached relationships are very possible.”

 

Their blog is also a great resource for information on autistic parents and autistic parenting, as the majority of their contributors are autistic parents.  

 

One anonymous person said of Respectfully Connected writer Court Thatcher:


“Court’s writing on Respectfully Connected has been incredible and her work has been important in the realm of parenting neurodivergent children.”

 

Another anonymous person who nominated Respectfully Connected contributor Briannon Lee wrote:  

 

“Briannon has been involved in initiatives that have had far reaching effects on autistic people. She has committed to important roles in Respectfully Connected, Autistic Family Collective, and Neurodiversity Connect. These things have contributed to improving the lives and rights of autistics. Her wider writing is also fantastic and her huge efforts deserve recognition.”

 
Because every individual at Respectfully Connected received at least one nomination, and because of the work they are doing to change the world and make it better, fairer, more accepting and more inclusive for Autistic people, we honor them this week and thank them always!

Thank you, Respectfully Connected!

Honoring Kassiane of Radical Neurodivergence Speaking #PACLAOWies

Parenting Autistic Children With Love & Acceptance is excited to reveal the second OWie Award in April!  

Awarded to Autistic Activists who are changing the conversations and shifting the Overton Window toward acceptance!

Honoring- (2)
Image: blue/green certificate with green filigree frame.  Top left is stamp of PACLA icon.  Bottom of image is watermarked with an arrow shooting through an open window.   Green text in multiple fonts reads: Honoring Kassiane of Radical Neurodivergence Speaking in appreciation of your radical activism & shifting the Overton Window toward Autism Acceptance & the Neurodiversity Paradigm.  Thank You!       Parenting Autistic Children With Love & Acceptance

Congratulations to Kassiane of Radical Neurodivergence Speaking!

Yes, Kassiane is a huge part of the PACLA team….and even though we at PACLA  are incredibly biased, we also know that she is so deserving of this award!  And we are not the only ones who think so.   An OVERWHELMING amount of votes (over half!) nominated Kassiane,  and as one of her nominators who wished to remain anonymous said:


Kassiane doesn’t just shift the window, they blast it open.

 

Kassiane was nominated by so many who acknowledge the enormous debt those of us in the autistic rights and neurodiversity movements owe to her fierce and uncompromising activism.  

 

Kassiane is the very definition of an Overton Window shifter. She says the things that need to be said whether people like it or not and she doesn’t water it down for anyone. She unapologetically yanks that window forward and won’t budge an inch! There are many great activists doing amazing things to make change in various ways, but as far as shifting the Overton Window, I think Kassiane pulls that window the farthest!   -Lana Thomas

 

She is fearless and ferocious about speaking the truth. – anonymous

 

For her invention of the term “neurodivergent”, her blog “Radical Neurodivergence Speaking” and for being one of the original Overton Window movers in the autism advocacy movement.      – Elizabeth Rosenzweig

 

Thank you, Kassiane!  We appreciate you and all of the work you do to make a better, safer and more accepting world for Autistic people!   

 

……………………………………………………..

Who are the people in our community who are speaking out about injustice and ableism? Who are the people in our community who are shifting perceptions and changing the conversation about autism? Those who are perhaps seen as too “radical”, but the same ones who are planting the seeds for huge paradigm shifts?

This is the often unappreciated work of activists that goes unnoticed. But it is so incredibly important! PACLA wants to recognize the people in our community who are doing the hard work of creating a better future, a better world for autistic people.

We want to acknowledge these Overton Window shifters as we come into April. Let’s celebrate autism acceptance and those who are building a better world for all of us.

Who would you nominate as an Overton Window Shifter?

Let us know by filing out this nomination form here.

PACLA’s First OWie Award Honoring Morénike Onaiwu!

Parenting Autistic Children With Love & Acceptance is excited to reveal the first OWie Award in April!  

Awarded to Autistic Activists who are changing the conversations and shifting the Overton Window toward acceptance!

Honoring- (1)

Image: blue/green certificate with green filigree frame.  Top left is stamp of PACLA icon.  Bottom of image is watermarked with an arrow shooting through an open window.   Green text in multiple fonts reads: Honoring Morénike Onaiwu in appreciation of your radical activism & shifting the Overton Window toward Autism Acceptance & the Neurodiversity Paradigm.  Thank You!       Parenting Autistic Children With Love & Acceptance

Congratulations to Morénike Onaiwu!

 

Morénike was nominated for her tireless activism and work in the Autistic community and beyond.  She is a fierce advocate not just for autistic rights, but in intersectional activism, HIV/AIDS advocacy and disability justice.   You may know of Morénike as a board member and chair person on the Autism & Race Committee at Autism Women’s Network, as founder of Advocacy Without Borders, as the driving force behind the #JusticeForKayleb campaign, from her involvement with Respectfully Connected or from her blog Who Needs Normalcy?  


Thank you Morénike for your activism, advocacy and creating a brighter future for Autistic people!  We appreciate you!

 

Who are the people in our community who are speaking out about injustice and ableism? Who are the people in our community who are shifting perceptions and changing the conversation about autism? Those who are perhaps seen as too “radical”, but the same ones who are planting the seeds for huge paradigm shifts?

This is the often unappreciated work of activists that goes unnoticed. But it is so incredibly important! PACLA wants to recognize the people in our community who are doing the hard work of creating a better future, a better world for autistic people.

We want to acknowledge these Overton Window shifters as we come into April. Let’s celebrate autism acceptance and those who are building a better world for all of us.

Who would you nominate as an Overton Window Shifter?

Let us know by filing out this nomination form here.

April is Autism ACCEPTANCE Month!

Check out these Autism Acceptance Month Activities that celebrate neurodiversity, autistic pride & autistic culture!

 

Virtual Events:

Autism Acceptance Day & Month Virtual Event

Color The World For Autism

Tone it Down Taupe

#REDinstead

Autism Acceptance Month Poetry by Neurodiversity In The Classroom

fullmetalheart.com’s 30 Days of Autism Acceptance in Pictures

Autistic Academic’s 30 Days of “Inspiration”

 

In Person Events:

Bellevue Autism Spectrum Navigators Autism Acceptance Video Game Tournament

The event is for EVERYONE! ALL students and families, faculty, staff, educators and other professionals, and community members, can learn more about autism at college, and how providing access creates a better experience for all.

Date: Saturday, April 9

Time: 11:00 am – 4:00pm in the Cafeteria at Bellevue College Main Campus.

Parking is free in student lots.

Admission is free! Throughout the event, there will be a variety of activities and resources for all.  For the video game tournament, competitors will be playing Super Smash Brothers on the Nintendo Wii U. Be sure to check our Facebook page often for full tournament details and an updated list of PRIZES!

Speakers include alumni student, now University graduate, author, and photographer who is starting his career path, Trevor Pacelli, speaking about his experiences and giving advice about reaching for your goals. There will be a panel of students from the Autism Spectrum Navigators Program to answer questions as well. And of course, you will learn about our new program. A session led by BC’s Counseling Center Program Chair Dr. Steven G. Martel will provide information about our unique Career Preparation course series.

Check out our Facebook event page often for updates!www.facebook.com/events/477433072441486/

All ages are welcome! We will provide both an Xbox Kinect game room for children ages 4-12, as well as a quiet room for our guests who need some space to get away from the fun for a bit.

Please join us in helping to spread the word about this event, and the access support program at Bellevue College! See you on April 9.

 

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network of Los Angeles will have five (5) major events in April of 2016. These events can be seen in more detail at Meetup.com/ASANLA
Saturday, April 2nd – Autism Speaks protest
This will be on the lesser side of accessibility, since Autism Speaks events are consistently inaccessible. However, it should be relatively accessible compared to most protests, since our plan this year is to sit/stand by a table and give out free earplugs and sunglasses. The location is the Pasadena Rose Bowl.

Thursday April 7th – South Bay support group
Our monthly support group for Autistic adults will run as usual at the South Bay LGBT Center in Torrance.

Saturday, April 9th – Autism Acceptance Chalk Festival
This event belongs to another organization, Autism HWY, which hosts the annual chalk festival in Covina. ASAN will join with an information table. ASAN members are also involved to perform their artistic work on the stage (poetry, music, etc.) and to draw in a dedicated ASAN chalking square (as well as additional spaces if they choose to purchase one).

Saturday, April 16th – Autism Acceptance Walk & Fundraiser
Another other organization’s event: the Autism Society of Greater Long Beach / San Gabriel Valley / Orange County, one of the better chapters. ASAN is invited as an information vendor.

Lastly, we will end the month with our second annual Sitmming Potluck Party. It’s the least urgent, so we’re still working out the details, but it will most likely be on Saturday the 30th in Whittier.
What is a Stimming Potluck? Well, it’s like a food potluck, but instead of food, we all bring our favorite stim toys that we’re willing to share.  There will also be general party elements like games and movies.

 

Autism Women’s Network & Ed Wiley Autism Acceptance Lending Library Acceptance Month Screening of Spectrum: A Story of The Mind

Autism Women’s Network & The Ed Wiley Autism Acceptance Lending Library are teaming up for a screening followed by a Q&A panel with the filmmaker and participants of the award winning film Spectrum: A Story Of The Mind.

The library will host one viewing party at the Stanwood-Camano Community Resource Center in Stanwood, WA on April 23, 2016 at 4:00 pm.

Autism Women’s Network is currently seeking donations for ASL interpreters, captioning the film, accessing appropriate technology & more to conduct viewing parties and make these events possible!  You can donate to help make this happen here.

If you are interested in doing a viewing party with AWN, contact Amanda at Autism Women’s Network for more information:  amanda@autismwomensnetwork.org

Introducing the MacDonald Autistic Pride & Neurodiversity Lending Library!

Autism Acceptance Libraries are popping up all over!  We are so excited to highlight the work of Rebecca MacDonald and the MacDonald Autistic Pride & Neurodiversity Lending Library in Boston, MA!

 

Can you introduce and tell us a little about yourself?

I am a 45 year old mom of four Autistic children living in the Boston area with my husband, kids, and two cats. I self-identify as being Autistic, after giving much thought to the way that I have always perceived and interacted with the world, despite suppressing myself for so long in an effort to blend in. Two of my children are nonspeaking, and I have been learning Rapid Prompting Method (RPM) to teach them academics and to learn to communicate by typing.

How are you connected to autism & the neurodiversity movement?

When my kids were diagnosed, the main “resources” available were therapies aimed at changing who they were, such as ABA, and organizations such as Autism Speaks. I never felt comfortable pathologizing autism or “mourning” for a child who is diagnosed, and therefore never fit in with parents’ groups and was frequently at odds with educators. From early on, I was always searching for ways to teach my kids to communicate that were respectful of their neurology and learning styles. When I discovered RPM, I also began to discover blogs and books by Autistics, as well as the neurodiversity paradigm, and it gave me a great deal of insight into both my kids and myself. I realized that many people are unaware of the concept of neurodiversity, and the fact that there is so much information out there from Autistic and otherwise neurodivergent people that could expand and change their perceptions in much needed ways.

What thing or things motivated you to want to start a library in your community?

There are many parents out there who love their Autistic children but don’t know how to best support them. They have been fed nothing but fear and negativity about autism: that autism is a disorder that must be fixed, that their children need traumatizing therapies if there is to be any hope of a decent life, and that their children are not competent human beings capable of expressing themselves in a meaningful manner. Even more importantly, there are the teenagers and adults who have been told these things their entire lives and grew up believing them; I want to create a resource that is accessible to Autistic people and their families so that they can hear the voices of Autistic people.

What is both astounding and heartbreaking to me is that many families and professionals don’t realize that what is recommended to help Autistic people is often harmful and dehumanizing because it is designed without the input of actual Autistic people. Both Autistic people and their families need to hear from people who are like them or their family member in order to question what so-called professionals tell them. I have spoken to many parents who didn’t quite feel right about a therapy (such as forcing a child to repeatedly complete a meaningless task or forcing eye contact while the child cried), but were intimidated and made to feel that they were terrible parents for not wanting to help their child!

 What goals do you have for your library?

My goals for this library are to reach as many people as possible and make these reading resources accessible to all. I would also love to host events with local Autistic people such as lectures/panels, Q & A for families to help with supporting their Autistic family members, and any other ways to help connect Autistic people and their families to the Autistic community for support and guidance. In the future, I plan to start a non-profit that the library will be part of with the goals of making teaching and communication methods such as RPM and FC accessible to all by connecting people to providers and raising funds to ensure that ability to pay is not a barrier.

 How can people support this project?

I am at the very beginning of this project, so the best ways to support it are donations, spreading the word by sharing posts and telling others about it, and contacting me with any leads on places to set up, as it will be a mobile library.

 How will you run the library? (space, dates, etc.)

I will be able to meet people by appointment, as the library will be mobile. My next step will be locating spaces to set up on a regular basis. I have a few leads, but any help/ideas from people in the Boston area would be greatly appreciated!

What has the response been from your community and others?

I have gotten a tremendously positive response! There are many people who are asking me what they can do to support it and get involved, and many parents who are interested to learn more. Most importantly, the Autistic community has been very supportive and welcoming!

Is there anything else you’d like us to know or want to share?

I would like to thank PACLA and for your support and for publishing this to help spread the word about my library, and especially to Lei for her guidance in this endeavor!

 

You can find Rebecca’s library on Facebook and you can donate to support the library here:

Donate to The MacDonald Autistic Pride & Neurodiversity Lending Library

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