Saturday, May 1, 2010

Blogging Against Disablism Day: Awareness for "Professionals"

"Professionals," usually with the best of intentions, speak on behalf of persons with autism disorders. In many cases, persons with autism disorders do NOT need help speaking (or communicating in any form) and advocating for their needs and desires. Autism does NOT equal inability, nor are all people with autism alike. Many individuals with high-functioning autism (not all) prefer and CAN advocate for themselves.
Unsolicited advocacy is advocating for people withOUT written or verbal consent. Unsolicited advocacy stifles the desire for personal growth that many persons with autism disorders need and want. I neither have a desire nor need for a "professional" to "advocate" on my behalf.
The following are a list of strategies that professionals can use when assisting persons with autism (Autistic Disorder, PDD-NOS, or Asperger's Syndrome and at any functioning level) This list uses the term "autism" because I am a person with high functioning autism. (Some, if not all, of the strategies can be used for people with other developmental disabilities and mental illnesses.)
  • Speak DIRECTLY to the person who has autism, not to a bystander.
  • RESPECT PRIVACY! Do NOT, under ANY circumstance, speak to the autistic person's boss, medical professional, relative (close or distant), friend, or any other person without WRITTEN or VERBAL consent.
  • Teach self-advocacy. People with autism are not hard to teach if you UNDERSTAND that ALL people with autism want to learn and are DIFFERENT. People with autism need opportunities for personal growth. Do NOT stifle these opportunities.
  • Be concrete and literal (if applicable), and use whatever communication method the person with autism needs.
  • Respect our TIME; it's too valuable. If you are a job coach or other professional visiting a person with autism at work, ask if he or she has TIME to talk. Do NOT just enter and start "chatting."
  • Remember, that people with autism, like all people, were hired to DO a job. Many autistic people require more mental and physical energy and effort to complete work effectively and efficiently at criterion level.
  • Don't question excessively at work. It's NOT the time or place to do so. Work, for any person, takes effort. People with autism need to focus harder than typical people. RESPECT that.
  • If questions are unavoidable, either write them down (if the person can read) or say them. As a general rule, do NOT ask more than three.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Tangible Benefits

One of the rewards for working at an accounting firm is that I get tax returns (taxes) done for FREE! I gave Phil two W-2's  and a 1099. (I also work at Kohl's.) The next day at the office, Phil gave me my completed tax returns (1040, Ohio, and Regional Income Tax Agency). I smiled and said, "Thank you."

I really appreciate that Phil got my tax returns done efficiently. Phil, thank you for your consideration. Again, I highly enjoy working at Light and Associates.

Friday, March 26, 2010

What does RESPECT include?

Dora Raymaker posted an excellent post, here. Autistic adults are NOT "trapped" in a child's mind. Autistic disability is developmental; that means autistics PROGRESS throughout their lifetime. (Of course, autistic people do NOT progress without treatments, services, supports, and accommodations.)

Here is another of Raymaker's posts that advocates beautifully.
I have feelings, and they CAN be hurt. Autistic people are NOT emotionless like some would have you believe.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Autistic In Pain - NO "Joy of Autism" here

Pain does not have to be experienced physically. Emotional pain, the kind that comes from loneliness, is extremely devastating. My autistic disability is a PAINFUL way of being. Yes, painful, NOT joyful. Autistic people, by definition of autism and Asperger's, face enormous challenges, struggles, and deficits.

Autistic people with Autistic Disorder, PDD-NOS, or Asperger's Syndrome have neurological impairments in functioning skills. I do NOT glorify autism disorders.

My Work Is PART of My Life

I have a wonderful job at Light and Associates, an accounting firm. I have an amazing boss. My co-workers are very friendly, helpful, and polite. I have absolutely NO complaints about anyone at Light and Assoicates. NONE!

If it weren't for my job, I would have nothing worth living for. I have no friends.

Should an employment opportunity be the only thing that makes someone happy in life?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Communication is NOT speech!

Thank you to Dora Raymaker, autistic adult, (Autistic Disorder) for advocating for autistic people. When she blogged for on the "autism page," Raymaker did a wonderful job.

In the aforementioned post, Dora Raymaker advocates for me. Spoken language, especially speaking in complete sentences, can be highly challenging. Sometimes, I'm all "worded out." Thanks to the speech therapy I received from preschool until 8th grade, verbal communication, pragmatic language (includes figurative) and some social skills are easier to understand, interpret, utilize.

Why is my job at the accounting firm so amazing? The BENEFITS of self-disclosure!

As I have mentioned, I work at Light and Associates, an accounting firm. Phil and Kathy Light, Linda, and I are currently very busy. As per previous post, I have disclosed "Asperger's Syndrome" to Phil, Kathy, and some other individuals at the office. (The office includes several companies.) I have received positive feedback from Phil and Kathy.
  • I gave Phil the thank you letter. I wanted to thank him for hiring me and the extremely thoughtful cards and "bonuses" he put inside. Later, I told him, "I hope the letter didn't embarrass you. I'm very self-conscious about how other people perceive my written and spoken words. Phil said, "It's okay if you feel more comfortable expressing your emotions in writing." I replied, "Thank you." I didn't say anything else, but these words really gave my self-confidence a boost. I really appreciate Phil's understanding and acknowledgement of my communication challenges.
  • Phil often says, "Thank you for your hard work." Again, his statements make me feel GOOD about myself. One of Phil's sons came in to the office to see him. Phil introduced me to him and said, "This is Katie." Then he told his son that I am a hard worker. Phil, thank you for your kind words. I enjoy making Phil and Kathy look good, especially to their family members and clients.
  • Phil said this due to his previous statement, but I will not post it due to confidentiality. He stated, "You know all about dealing with challenges? You've had some of your own, right?" I answered, "Yeah." I didn't make eye contact because I was uncomfortable. I was uncomfortable because I knew he was referring to "Asperger's," but he did NOT say the word "Asperger's." Phil, if you read my blog, feel free to use the word "Asperger's" if applicable.
Disclaimer: Each bullet point indicates a different occurrence.