My blogger for today is John. John started RPM in November, 2014 in a workshop in Atlanta. I was immediately smitten! I told his mom that John is “happiness contained in skin!”. You just can’t be around John without catching that happiness! I find myself smiling throughout our sessions together. In my last visit to Atlanta in March, John and I did a lesson on Ari Ne’eman, co-founder of the Autism Self Advocacy Network. How did John get this skilled on the letter boards in 4 months? He and his mother have practiced together every day since that November workshop!! Here is what John has to say about autism and self advocacy. (*Note: my comments or questions are in regular font, John’s responses were spelled on a letter board and are presented in all caps).
Who are we talking about today?
What did Ari Neman start?
AUTISM SELF ADVOCACY NETWORK
What paper did I say this article is from?
Tell me something about Ari in a full sentence.
ARI COFOUNDED ASAN IN DC.
Tell me what Ari said about his diagnosis.
HE FOUND OUT AT TWLEVE AND WHEN HE READ ABOUT IT HE FOUND TALK OF NEGATIVITY AND JUDGEMENT.
How about your experience with your diagnosis and responses to you?
ONLY HAVE INTEREST IN SUPPORTING OTHERS WHO DO NOT TALK.
What is ASAN?
ASAN IS A AUTISTIC SUPPORT GROUP BY AND FOR AUTISTICS
What are your thoughts?
I DO THINK THAT NO ONE BUT AUTISTICS SHOULD SPEAK FOR AUTISTICS.
Ari talks about the effort to meet expectations in the non-autistic world, including the demand to make eye contact. Let’s talk about that one.
EYE CONTACT IS IRRITATING.
I read Ari’s thought on both assimilation in the non-autistic world and the need for community.
I AGREE THAT IT IS IMPORTANT TO HAVE A COMMUNITY TO HANG OUT IN. EVERYONE NEEDS TO BE COMFORTABLE IN THEIR OWN SKIN. I ALSO THINK IT IS IMPORTANT TO BE A PART OF THE REGULAR WORLD.
So, what are your thoughts on autism and advocacy?
I THINK THAT WE NEED TO CHANGE HOW WE LOOK AT AUTISM. ELIZABETH YOU NEED TO LEAD THE BATTLE! I WILL HELP.
Thanks for the vote of confidence, John! I have never considered myself to be an activist, but when my kids ask me (daily!) to help change the way people think about all autistic people, particularly autistics who cannot not speak or cannot speak reliably, how can I refuse? My delightful friend and autism leader, John, has worked so diligently to develop the motor skills and control needed to point, letter by letter, has a powerful message to share. “EVERYONE NEEDS TO BE COMFORTABLE IN THEIR OWN SKIN”. Yes, everyone deserves to be respected for who they are. Everyone deserves to be included – in education, in the workplace, in the community! John and I are recruiting… join us and spread the word of autism acceptance! Share John’s words and help change the way we look at autism!
~Elizabeth and John