As an Autistic Self Advocate, I work to advance the rights, goals, concerns and self-determination of the Autistic community that I am a part of. I strive daily to promote Neurodiversity awareness and acceptance, knowing that my condition is a functional, natural and necessary difference, worthy of respect, and celebration. I push to uphold the Social Model of Disability in regard to the Autistic Spectrum, fully aware that “systemic barriers, negative attitudes and exclusion by society (purposely or inadvertently)” are the main obstacles I face as an individual on the Spectrum living in a Neurotypical world. I fight to dispel the popular belief that the Autistic Spectrum is a “disease” in need of a “cure,” understanding that there cannot be any real and honest dialogue about the Spectrum so long as the general public entertains such a prejudicial viewpoint. And, of course, this trend in thinking is not so easily reversible, since it is perpetuated by not only medical professionals, experts, and the mainstream media, but even some well-known organizations that purport to represent the Autistic community, as well. However, like many others on the Spectrum, I struggle against these factors to add my own voice, realizing how important it is for Autistic individuals to educate the public about the Autistic Spectrum for ourselves – especially when our Neurotypical counterparts fall short.
I am very active within Autistic organizations and groups run by Autistic individuals, as that is exactly how I believe that a successfully-established Autistic Self Advocacy group should function. Groups like these actually direct their organizational efforts towards more solid goals, like Autistic awareness/acceptance campaigns, and real-time support and services for adults on the Autistic spectrum. This is a complete reversal from some of the most dominant mainstream Neurotypical-run organizations, which largely ignore Autistic individuals, while placing undue focus on fact-free fear-mongering as a means to gain research funding for an ever-elusive “cure.” Overall, I view Self-Advocacy, together with Neurodiversity, as the common ground necessary for members of the Autistic community to stand upon if we are to effect any substantial and lasting positive change for ourselves within society. Both ideas are based in the Individual, which is the smallest unit of change, and the most effective place to focus upon in search of it!
I am the current director of the New Jersey Chapter of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, an organization that is for, and operated by, Autistic individuals who embrace Neurodiversity. I am also the founder of “Aspergian Women United,” a non-profit organization I created with the intention of developing a strong, Neurodiversity-based support network for Aspergian women. Feel free to view my blog, at AcidRayn.com.
For those interested, here is my post from last year:
Autistics Speaking Day 2011!