Check out these Autism Acceptance Month Activities that celebrate neurodiversity, autistic pride & autistic culture!
In Person Events:
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/ASANLASaturday, April 2nd – Autism Speaks protestThis 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 groupOur monthly support group for Autistic adults will run as usual at the South Bay LGBT Center in Torrance.Saturday, April 9th – Autism Acceptance Chalk FestivalThis 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 & FundraiserAnother 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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:
We are so excited about Unbound Books! This is a brand new autism acceptance library serving the community of Modesto, CA. Their mission, from their Facebook page:
“At Unbound Books Autism Acceptance Library, we believe in a world where Autistics control the discourse on all autism related topics, one where their voices are not only heard and respected, but sought out. A world where Autistic people are recognized as the ONLY experts on Autistic people and the issues that affect their lives.
We want the next generation of Autistics to grow up in a world where they will not be bullied, abused, or murdered by the people who were supposed to protect them. To be free from ableist “interventions” that promise to make them “indistinguishable from peers,” and often come with a side of PTSD.
Instead, we envision a world where Autistic people are not only accepted, but embraced as valuable members of society.
Our mission is to help create that world by challenging the way people think about autism. But we cannot do it alone. We can amplify Autistic voices, but you have to be willing to listen. We hope you will join us.“
We asked the founder, Lana Thomas to answer a few questions to introduce the PACLA community to this amazing new project that is going to help change the conversation about autism in their community!
1. Can you introduce and tell us a little about yourself?
I am 41 years old. I’m allistic and neurodivergent. I have epilepsy. I’m married to a neurotypical man and together we have a twice-exceptional (Autistic + gifted) daughter. I live in a community that is deeply entrenched in the pathology paradigm, so I am trying to change that.
2. How are you connected to autism and the neurodiversity movement?
Unfortunately, the neurodiversity movement is literally non-existent in my area as far as I can tell. I actually had never heard the term “neurodiversity” before my daughter was identified as autistic. I was Googling things like “anti-ABA” and “Autistic bloggers,” when I stumbled onto it. I just made it my mission to learn about autism from Autistic people, so I started following blogs by Autistic activists, joined Autistic moderated online communities, followed Autistic led organizations, and watched videos of speeches given by Autistic advocates. There’s so much information out there, but you have to sift through so much misinformation to get to it. So that’s pretty much the purpose of my library. People can find all of this information in one place without the sifting.
3. What thing or things motivated you to start a library in your community?
Well, once I started following the work of Autistic activists, and the neurodiversity movement, I would try to explain to people that the things Autistic people advocate for and support are in direct opposition to the things parents and professionals advocate for and support- even down to the definition of autism! I would bring this up and people would act as though I was some kind of radical for actually valuing what Autistics have to say about their own lives. I became frustrated at how quick allistic people are to dismiss Autistic people, so I started to think about how I could get people to listen to Autistic people. I thought about donating books to the local library, but that still left the problem of people having to sift through the bad stuff to get to the good stuff.
It was right around that time that one of the pages I follow on Facebook posted a link to the Ed Wiley Autism Acceptance Library, and it hit me- that’s exactly what we need here! At the time, it didn’t occur to me to start my own. I just thought,”That’s brilliant! Too bad it’s all the way in WA though.” So one day I commented on a Facebook post about the library that I wish there were something like that in CA. Lei actually replied to my comment & told me to e-mail her and she would tell me how she got her library started. We’ve been e-mailing each other back and forth ever since and she has been enormously helpful and supportive through this whole process. I’ve never done anything like this before, so I quite literally could not have done this without her help.
4. What goals do you have for your library?
Right now the most pressing goal is just raising money for inventory and start up costs. Once I have the graphic art done I’ll start working on the website which will have a book list, calendar of events, and links to important resources. Eventually I would like to sell merchandise to support the library. I would love to get to the point where we can have some kind of event happening every month whether that’s hiring Autistic, Neurodivergent & Disabled activists to speak on important topics, hosting events for days of cultural significance, and even organizing protests.The idea is to make Autistic, Neurodivergent, and Disabled culture so visible that it’s impossible to ignore. A force to be reckoned with.
The long term goal, of course, is liberating the masses from the damaging misconceptions of the prevailing “cure culture” and the harm and oppression caused by it.
My ultimate dream would be for Unbound Books Autism Acceptance Library to become a huge national non-profit with a majority Autistic, 100% neurodivergent board of directors that would offer jobs with great pay and benefits to Autistic, neurodivergent, and other disabled people to run libraries across the country either on site or through mail from their homes. They would be able to create their own schedules. We would also hire Autistic mentors for Autistic children and have Autistic led workshops for parents, professionals, educators, police, etc. I love the idea of creating jobs by promoting acceptance and educating people about neurodiversity.
5. How can people support this project?
You can visit our Facebook page and click on the Donate Now button which will take you directly to our You Caring fundraiser page. You can also help by “liking” and sharing our Facebook page.
(You can also find the fundraiser here!)
6. How will you run the library?
We are still in the start-up phase right now (building inventory, tending to administrative requirements for starting a business, etc.) but we have a few locations we’re looking into and we will post site info, dates & hours on our Facebook page as soon as we have a location secured and a big enough inventory to be able to start (we currently only have one book.)
7. What has the response been from your community and others?
I haven’t quite gone public about it until now, but I did mention it to some local teachers in my area and they actually seemed pretty excited about it. The support from the Autistic community has been amazing. I was kind of nervous about undertaking a project like this as an allistic, but so far it seems like people get what I’m trying to do and that I’m not trying to speak for or over anyone. And honestly, if I didn’t have the support of the Autistic community I wouldn’t do this at all, because if the community you’re trying to serve doesn’t agree with what you’re doing, then you are not really serving them.
8. Is there anything else you’d like us to know or want to share?
I just want to thank everyone at PACLA for your support and for giving me this opportunity to talk about my library. And I want to thank Lei especially for her patience and support in this process. And I want to thank all the amazing activists who have taught me so much and who continue to teach me everyday.
Thank you Lana, for making a difference in your community and for working to make a better future for Autistic people!
Image description: Two flappy red and orange people figures made of geometric forms, each standing atop a two-tone green and blue mountain shape, with a blue sky background. Text reads: Change the world. Not your Autistic child.
Are you planning an event that celebrates Autistic people, Autistic Pride or Autistic culture? PACLA wants to help you get the word out about your event!
Image: Light textured background. Multicolored text reads: Are you planning an Autism Acceptance Month Event? Is your event inclusive, accessible, pro autism acceptance, pro neurodiversity? Does your event celebrate Autistic Pride, Autistic Acceptance & Autistic Culture? If so, we weant to hear about it & put it on the PACLA blog!
Send us the information by March 16, 2016 to:
Top right of image has off centered PACLA logo (by Because Patterns) Two flappy red and orange people figures made of geometric forms, each standing atop a two-tone green and blue mountain shape, with a blue sky background.
Bottom right of image has a blue lightbulb and blue puzzle piece with red circle backslash symbol to indicate no puzzles, no lighting it up blue.
By Amy Sequenzia
TW: Graphic description of Filicide
About the Autism Society of America
First, I want to say that this post refers to the National Organization. I don’t know all the chapters but I know that while some are terrible, others are great to their communities, and some are run by Autistics.
I should be trying to sleep. Today was Disability Day of Mourning, the day we remember disabled people murdered by their parents or caregivers. We do this because the media likes to find “excuses” for the murderers, portraying the victims as burdens on “exhausted parents” who “of course” had good reason to murder their children.
We do this because the idea that disabled people are “non-persons” is not really controversial in many circles.
So, by the end of the day I was exhausted, drained. Then I received an email from the Autism Society of America (ASA). After some Facebook exchanges I needed a break. I had a seizure, spent some time reading some fun conversation about other things, recovered a little but couldn’t sleep, so I decided to write.
It is not uncommon for me to be exhausted by the end of a day when I type a lot. Today, though, what drained me was the reason for all the typing. First, typing about disabled people who were murdered, about how they were murdered simply for being disabled, and how their lives were nearly forgotten. Then, the ASA email.
Remember, today is Disability Day of Mourning. We use a hashtag on social media. Every respectable – or claiming to be respectful – disability advocacy organization knows about it. ASA decided that today was a good day to announce the keynote speakers of their National Conference.
Why are those two things related? Because the keynote speakers are the authors of a book – “In a Different Key” – which is generating a lot of discussion in “autism circles”. In the book, the authors make very clear that people should “understand” parents who murder their Autistic children. Apparently because murdering us is just a “oops, I murdered my child but they were Autistic, so I have an explanation”.
Before I continue, I want to talk about London McCabe, the little Autistic boy who died after his mother threw him off a bridge. I want to talk about him because, in a rare case of justice being served, the murderer was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. I also read, today, about how he died. I feel empty, yet heavy with pain, when I imagine him falling, scared, breaking several bones, then drowning in pain, confused and alone, in freezing waters. His murderer, the person who called herself a mother, would find “understanding” from the keynote
speakers headlining the ASA conference. London would probably be dismissed as “not a real person”.
Back to the keynote speakers and their book. They also praise Lovaas, the father of ABA, something many Autistics (including me) call torture – Lovaas is also the one who first referred to us as non-persons.
The same speakers reject the neurodiversity movement as a valid fight for our human rights. They don’t think I, a non-speaking Autistic who needs many supports, can be part of the neurodiversity movement. I suspect they believe people who look like me cannot think either. They mock some of us, calling us “robots”.
ASA invited the authors of a book that supports pathologizing autism, as if we “suffer” from a devastating disease, a book that dismisses our efforts to be heard, a book that values the idea that we need to be changed to be seen a real people.
When I asked why, the answer was “We wanted people attending the conference to hear both [the closing keynote is the author of another book with a very different view of autism] and decide for themselves on their assessment of each keynote . We know there are people who support Steve and others who support Karen and John. We want people to hear both. We also know there are people on the spectrum who have publicly supported Zucker and Donvan including our volunteers who are autistic.”
As I responded, I don’t know who are the Autistics who agree that murdering us is defensible, and that such view should be in a book. I am also disturbed that ASA believes it is ok to let people who propagate such view be the headline of a conference as big as this one.
ASA calls themselves allies of the Autistic community. Why are they inviting people who don’t value us so they can have an audience to propagate a such hateful message?
The answer is that ASA is an ally to parents, including the martyr parents, the warrior parents, the ones who want attention, pity and “understanding”. Parents who don’t accept their children and who need validation for their complaints. It is sad that, as I said in the first paragraph, some chapters have Autistic leaders doing great community work, and are now lost in this mess because of the name they carry.
ASA National Organization wants a lot of people attending their conference and they don’t care that the “stars” are people who defend murderers of disabled, some of whom were Autistic, people.
ASA is celebrating people who “understand” and excuse people who murder us –
on the day we mourn our brothers and sisters who died because they were seen as non-people, just like ASA’s Conference headliners see us.
That’s why I was exhausted and drained today.
Remembering the ones who should not have died, while an organization that is supposed to stand with us invites me to celebrate people who can “understand” people who murdered my brothers and sisters.
Image: Two blue outlined speech bubbles on gray background. Top right reads: “Oh, hey! FYI…”
Middle left speech bubble reads: You don’t get to say you are interested in social justice and disability rights while simultaneously posting ableist garbage that portrays disability as something children do to their parents. I do not think those words mean what you think they mean! #BoycottTheMighty”
White text reads: “Enough is enough! Join PACLA as we pledge to #BoycottTheMighty!
We will not contribute to or be tokenized by The Mighty.
We as writers will not allow The Mighty to publish our content.
We will not share their content on social media.
We will not stand by as The Mighty continues to disrespect and devalue disabled lives!”
Sign our petition to the editors of the Mighty!
Check out these postings by some of our PACLA moderators to learn more about why we pledge to boycott The Mighty:
Check out these blog posts from other disability activists and advocates on how The Mighty hurts the disability community:
On Twitter you can also check out the hashtag #CrippingTheMighty
Take the pledge with us and tell The Mighty that their ableism is unacceptable!
Join Boycott Autism Speaks on Twitter tomorrow December 16, 2015 (@boycott_as) as we tell advocacy organizations what Autistics really want from them! Autistic people will be speaking, are you listening? Use the hashtag: #AutisticWishlist
I want advocacy orgs to focus on amplifying Autistic individuals more than their parents/caregivers. #AutisticWishlist #BoycottAutismSpeaks
Advocacy groups need to represent Autistic adults as well as kids! #AutisticWishlist #BoycottAutismSpeaks
My #AutisticWishlist for advocacy orgs includes providing actual services instead of just providing lip service. #BoycottAutismSpeaks
My #AutisticWishlist: Organizations that include #ActuallyAutistic parents too!
My #AutisticWishlist is for advocacy orgs to recognize #intersectionality & include & embrace ALL Autistic people
Advocacy organizations should have an overwhelmingly #Autistic leadership, do not tokenize & dismiss us! #AutisticWishlist
Reject the language of pathology and embrace the neurodiversity paradigm. #AutisticWishlist #BoycottAutismSpeaks
My #AutisticWishlist would include supports & accommodations across the lifespan not cures & eugenics! #BoycottAutismSpeaks
My #AutisticWishlist: Stop scaring parents & embrace acceptance, celebrate #neurodiversity & #AutisticPride
My #AutisticWishlist: Stop promoting therapies that hurt Autistic people. Call out ABA for its abusive practices
Recognize that “awareness” hurts, we deserve acceptance and nothing less #AutisticWishlist
We need organizations that call out ableism & oppression, not ones that perpetuate those things! #AutisticWishlist
My #AutisticWishlist means economic justice for disabled people. No segregated, sheltered worskhops!
I want organizations that claim to speak for me to fight for my full civil rights, not against them! #AutisticWishlist #BoycottAutismSpeaks
I want advocacy orgs to fight for #communicationjustice & defend the rights & autonomy of nonspeaking Autistics! #AutisticWishlist
There can be nothing about us without us. #Autistics must be represented in leadership & all levels of decision making! #AutisticWishlist
Organizations need to stop dividing & grading Autistics with useless and ableist functioning labels #AutisticWishlist #BoycottAutismSpeaks
Organizations need to affirm the value of Autistic lives & stop portraying our lives as tragedies #AutisticWishlist #BoycottAutismSpeaks
I want advocacy organizations to stop letting toxic parent support matter more than my dignity & humanity! #AutisticWishlist
I want advocacy organizations to tell parents about Autistic Culture & Pride, stop painting our existence as tragedy! #Autisticwishlist
I want advocacy organizations to fight for my full inclusion in schools, workplaces & communities! #AutisticWishlist #BoycottAutismSpeaks
I want advocacy organizations to fight for accessibility, universal design & to lead by example #AutisticWishlist #BoycottAutismSpeaks
Orgs need to show the world our lives have value, stop telling people we are burdens to be pitied! #AutisticWishlist #BoycottAutismSpeaks
Organizations need to respect our humanity, not reduce us to “inspirational stories” to feel good about yourselves. #AutisticWishlist
I want advocacy orgs to respect disabled lives instead of framing our existence as burdens on our parents & communities #AutisticWishlist
I want advocacy orgs to stop telling our parents we need to be fixed & start telling them disabled lives are beautiful! #AutisticWishlist
Orgs need to stop telling parents it’s their child’s neurology at fault when they are having a hard time parenting! #AutisticWishlist
Advocacy orgs need to prioritize Autistic people as the true experts on their own lives! #boycottautismspeaks #AutisticWishlist
Autism Advocacy orgs need to follow the lead of @Autism_Women & @autselfadvocacy that are led by & for Autistic ppl #AutisticWishlist
Orgs need 2 stop saying they speak for & care about us when they’re really just parent support groups #AutisticWishlist #BoycottAutismSpeaks
Advocacy organizations must prioritize the rights & dignity of Autistic people over how parents, others feel about autism #AutisticWishlist
My #AutisticWishlist: Fight for #DisabilityJustice because the focus on “Awareness” does nothing to help Autistic ppl! #BoycottAutismSpeaks
My #AutisticWishlist: Recognize #intersectionality. Don’t leave out the voices of those who are multiply marginalized! #BoycottAutismSpeaks
My #AutisticWishlist: Presume competence & stop prioritizing spoken language over other forms of communication! All voices matter!
Tips to make holidays safe, inclusive, enjoyable and FUN for everyone.
Holidays are usually a time for big family gatherings, parties, and lots of extra sensory input. While it can be fun, it can also be very stressful. This is especially true for Autistic people.
Most of the time, Autistic kids, adults and our families want to be included. However, an invitation is NOT inclusion. There are many things to consider if you want to create a space that is welcoming. What is the sensory environment like? Is your event chaotic and loud? Is there a space to go to get a sensory break? If you want to create an environment that is friendly and inclusive, the best people to ask about how to do that are the Autistic people that you want to celebrate with. You can have a holiday that is fun for everyone and does not exclude anyone. A lot of the time, it’s simply about what NOT to do.
During the holidays, there is more noise, more crowds, more smells and lights. This is not an enjoyable thing for most Autistic people.
It’s important to remember that sometimes, we have to say “no” to invitations not because we don’t love you, but because we need to take time for self care, to have some downtime, or just to take a step back from the overwhelming sensory assault of the holiday season. And that’s okay. Do not try to make the Autistic person feel guilty for not wanting to join in an environment that is hostile to their neurology.
When you decorate for the holidays, it’s important to remember that strobing, flashing or blinking lights can actually be deadly. Up to 30% of Autistic people have co-occuring epilepsy. Photosensitive epileptics also want to be included but assaulting them with a potentially deadly weapon is the opposite of inclusion. Steady, glowing lights are not only significantly less annoying than flashing lights, but 100% less likely to kill someone with photosensitive epilepsy. Strobing/flashing lights can also be hard to handle for people with sensory/visual processing issues and those who are prone to migraines. You can celebrate and decorate without hurting!
How else can you make your event/holiday party sensory friendly?
- Have low light as opposed to bright or florescent lighting.
- Tell your guests that flash photography is not allowed.
- Low music instead of very loud music that makes it hard to hear or understand conversations. In addition to this, some types of music can also cause seizures in people with epilepsy. For more on that check out this or this.
- Open spaces instead of everyone being crowded into one area. It helps people with sensory aversions to touch, but it will also make ALL of your guests feel more comfortable. Nobody likes being squeezed into a small space with a ton of other people. Having an open area makes it easier for people with mobility impairments or who use a wheelchair to be able to navigate the space. It’s also incredibly difficult to be able to process and understand a conversation when there are a dozen other conversations going on around you in close proximity. For an Autistic person or someone with auditory processing difficulties, this can be a nightmare.
- Ask people to be fragrance free. For more information on what that means, check out this.
- Create a small space where people can take a break from the party if they need to. A quiet place away from the crowd to regroup.
During the holidays, we see family and friends who we may not spend a lot of time with during the rest of the year. Please ASK FOR CONSENT before hugging or kissing or otherwise touching another person. This is something that we need to especially remember when it comes to Autistic children, whose autonomy is very often disrespected by adults. If you are the parent of an Autistic child, please be your child’s ally. Do not force them to hug or kiss anyone if they do not want to. Even if it’s grandparents or a beloved aunt or uncle….. Even if the relative thinks your child is being “bratty” or “spoiled”. Your child has a right to say “NO!” And your child’s “NO!” should be respected by the people around them.
Events, parties and family get togethers are one thing, but sometimes we need to also remember to scale back on the decorations and celebrations at home as well. Parents often want to have the “perfect” holiday, but change and transition can be scary to an Autistic child. Before decorating, think about putting things out a few at a time for your child to explore or get used to first. If you celebrate Christmas, you can bring in the tree several days before you put on the ornaments. Allow your child to familiarize themselves with decorations and take cues from them about how to proceed.
Sometimes unwrapping presents can be very overwhelming. Consider not wrapping them if it’s something your child doesn’t enjoy doing. Or unwrapping one or two presents and taking lots of breaks before moving on to more. Some Autistic children do not like surprises. Allowing them to pick out their own gifts and then either wrapping them or presenting them can help alleviate anxiety about surprises and the unexpected.
Reflect on the things that are difficult for the Autistic child when picking out gifts. If a person is sensitive to auditory input, a really loud toy that moves around a lot is probably not a great option.
When giving a gift, do not expect the Autistic child to keep saying “Thank You” or force them to do so. Remember that Autistic children often communicate and react to new situations in unexpected ways. For many Autistic people, even those who are speaking, speech is difficult in the best of circumstances. Opening gifts and being bombarded with new information and sensory input is probably the absolute worst time and place to worry about manners. You can take time later to send thank you cards or talk with them about their gifts.
Always remember to stop and listen to your child, however they are communicating with you. If they start to get overwhelmed, take a break and let them know that they can choose to celebrate the holidays in their way, in their time because they deserve to have fun too.
Several members of the Parenting Autistic Children With Love & Acceptance team are attending the TASH 2015 Conference in Portland, OR. We are presenting on collaborative advocacy in the autism community and how we use our platform to promote acceptance and social change!
To see a PDF of the PACLA Poster, you can click the link below:
It has been called to our attention that a prominent advocate has deceived the community in regards to events in their personal life and in how they represented themselves. This person caused many to be concerned about their health and safety as we falsely believed they were in a life or death situation.
This individual’s deceptions should not bring into question valid communication methods such as AAC, FC, or RPM that many nonspeaking or partially speaking Autistic people use to communicate. We must not discount an entire group of people because of one person’s active deception against our community.
Unethical predators will leverage anything they can, but that does not reflect on the tools & communication methods they are using.
The truth was discovered by concerned friends of this individual. While we don’t know all of the facts at this time, we do know that this was not what they expected when they began investigating. We understand that many in the community are hurt and asking questions, we do not feel it is responsible to go into further details until we know more.