I mentioned in my introduction that I have involvement in the autism spectrum community, and we are in the midst of Autism Awareness Month, so I should address one thing briefly.
One of the things I do on the spectrum involves the Autism Society of North Carolina’s Human Rights Committee. I’m one of the two self-advocates on this committee, bringing my own perspectives to cases where assistance is needed. I get to visit homes in the area to check on how the residents are being handled and engaged with, so there are no concerns.
As you can guess, I’m not at liberty to discuss cases, but I will mention that the individuals I work with tend to not be high-functioning, which makes for an interesting challenge. At times I have to go back and think about when I was five or so, when I had more behavior issues. When I was presented with this opportunity, it stemmed back to my experiences in Philadelphia working with children who were higher on the spectrum, last going back to 2011. I think back to when I was 4 or 5, and there was concern that I would end up another Rain Man, if you will. I would be smart enough to potentially go for a college education, but my social and life skills dragged slightly. I had to go through two years in special education (kindergarten and first grade) before being mainstreamed into standard elementary school the next year. Eventually I stopped needing an IEP as well. Made it relatively far, all things considered.
This time it is mostly older individuals who are still working on their basic life skills. I get to ensure that they are not treated as “subhuman” and that all standards involving medication and restraints are within legal reason, or even needed at all. Sometimes we don’t need it, and as a self-advocate, I always think it’s in the methods of teaching social mores that we are helped. However, I’m allowed the chance to figure out what is best with all ranges of the spectrum.
This is the first time in about four years that I truly felt I was making a difference in the autism spectrum community. Our hope is that those who need care in North Carolina in any way will be taken care of as they should, and can grow as people. It’s also part of why I believe autism awareness can go a step further, as autism acceptance. That’s another post later this month 😉