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:
Posted on March 20, 2016, in Parenting Autistic Children with Love and Acceptance. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.