I am currently working on an assignment for my Special Education (SPED) class where I am supposed to work come up with two resources for use in the classroom for autistic students. I was thinking about just posting this on Facebook, but I decided to put it here because I can write more and reflect on it a bit more.
Well, I decided that I was going to do this assignment on self-advocacy curricula (which is the latin plural, whereas the American English plural is curriculums, but I digress.) or documents. In an attempt to appease and possibly subvert the expectation, I am doing a self-advocacy curriculum from Autism $peaks and a self-advocacy curriculum from The National Autism Resource and Information Center (NARIC) and the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN).
What becomes blaringly (but could also be glaringly) obvious at first glance is the Autism $peaks document is for parents and teachers (mostly parents). It’s for the adults who have been advocating for the student since they were a kid. I get it and am fine with the audience being for adults, but upon looking at Autism $peaks a bit more, I found that there is one more document for autistics. Let me point out that it’s one page and then four pages of an example compared to 10 pages in the parents manual. Self-advocacy is such an important and simple of a task that all it takes is one page to get the job done according to Autism $peaks.
Compare this to the 74 pages of the NARIC and ASAN. Another thing to look at is to see the writers. Now, the 1-page Autism $peaks article could have been written by an autistic, but almost half of the page is dedicated to a neurotypical doctor.
Some other things that can be noted in the document for autistics is the comment: “I have autism, but it does not define me…” (5). One bullet point on a slide that doesn’t take into account or discuss the opposite opinion (of identity-first language like autistic or autistic person) compared to 7 pages on this same topic that looks at both sides, but reaches the conclusion at the end that identity-first language should be used because you cannot separate the person from their autism just as you can’t separate a person from their skin color.
The NARIC and ASAN self-advocacy document is 74 pages of autistics writing about self-advocacy looking at different positions (at least in the case of the identity-first language, whereas the Autism $peaks self-advocacy document is one page most likely not written by an autistic and an example that maintains their own viewpoints without introducing any other opinions.
Which would help a autistic teenager more? One written by Autism $peaks that is one page long and only maintains their own viewpoints or NARIC and ASAN that is 74 pages and discusses the other viewpoints logically (pointing out where there are logical or moral flaws in the arguments)? I’ll leave that up to you.
I guess, the irony that I alluded to in the title is that Autism $peaks chose to do an in-depth 10-page self-advocacy document that was directed toward adults and caregivers and a 1-page self-advocacy document directed towards autistics. Good job helping autistics advocate for themselves, Autism $peaks! (That should be read with heavy sarcasm)