Not long ago, I sat in a meeting composed of parents and professionals. The group was interested in learning more about what supports autistic people need. How would they find out? You can probably guess what their solution was: Let’s survey all the parents! Not one person suggested talking to autistic people themselves. I wasn’t having a good speech day and it didn't get any better from there. I wish I could say that I quickly and diplomatically pointed out the error in their groupthink. Some days I can. Some days I just…can’t. It left me feeling all powerless and Twilight Zoned. My identity as an advocate/activist was a joke. There was no point to my presence in the meeting and I was never going again.
And then it was another day. I remembered that being autistic sometimes means not being able to get words out and I made a plan to communicate with the group in a way that would work for me.
CHALLENGE: What do autistic people need? Ask us. Ask an autistic person in your life these questions:
1. What would you most like people to know about autism?
2. What supports do you need to do the things you want to do?
IMPORTANT: The person you ask is under no obligation to answer you. Do not go out there demanding responses and tell them I sent you. The point of this to get used to seeing people as the experts on their own lives. Any time or information the autistic person gives to you is a gift. You have no idea what it may be costing them.
If you are autistic, complete this challenge by answering the questions in the comments here. But only if you want to and have the spoons to do it.