Winner of 2013 Sedona Film Festival's, Heart of the Festival Award
Written by Elesia Ashkenazy
Laura Nagle is an self advocate on the autistic spectrum. She has given various presentations on autism over the past five years, particularly on topics related to educating others about autism and promoting the civil rights aspects of neurodiversity.
Elesia: Tell us more about how this film came to be. Were you approached with an idea for this project, or did you envision this project and seek out the necessary folks to make it happen?
Laura: I discovered that I am on the autism spectrum when I was 53. I found the Northern Arizona chapter of Autism Society of America and got involved. Soon I was doing panels and presentations. My mentor, Susan Marks, eventually asked me if I would be interested in doing a documentary. I agreed! Lots of people were involved with the production, and filming took over a year to complete.
Elesia: You did a thorough job of summing up sensory sensitivities in the movie. Please share with us again how clothes can feel like sandpaper or broken bits of glass, yet a gash or a deep cut could go unregistered by someone on the autistic spectrum.
Ari Ne'eman Appointed to the National Council on Disability
Written by Savannah Nicole Logsdon
Good News for the Autism community, and for the cross disability movement as a whole. Ari Ne'eman has been announced as one of President Obama's latest Presidential Appointees. He is currently awaiting confirmation by the senate for a position on the National Council on Disability. You can read the press release on the White House website here, as well as the names and Bios of other Appointees.
This is a big step forward for the Autism Community, particularly (but not exclusively) for the Neurodiversity movement. Ari has been pushing for the needs- and rights- of the Autistic community for years, and to have him appointed to the NCD is certainly the next move in his unrelenting efforts to promote our cause. He has also been involved in cross-disability efforts, an important thing to keep in mind.
I have written about my year in autism self-advocacy. I have a lot to celebrate and a lot to be thankful for. I think 2012 was a year of great accomplishments for our community, despite moments of deep sadness, moments of fear and moments of injustice toward us.
Some days were so sad, many of us could barely keep breathing.
Autistics continue to be murdered by family members, only because they are autistics.
Others are still abused, neglected, denied life saving measures and dying, sometimes because they cannot, or will not, speak.
The Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) continues to defend the shock “treatment” on disabled people as if this is not torture.
Autistics are still the go-to diagnosis when uninformed and biased people try to justify mass murder.
“Science” continues to come up with absurd theories for causes of autism, while being lazy about research for improvements in our quality of life.
Schools are still denying inclusion to disabled students who are eager to learn.
At least two of them did. They spoke on our behalf, eloquently and without drama or hyperbole.
Michael John Carley and Ari Ne’eman spoke about, to and for us, autistics. Not only about one group of autistics, but about all autistics. Because, in the end, we all need and want the same things: respect, acceptance, inclusion and support/services.
The Congressional Hearing was about the Federal Response to the Rising Rates of Autism. Several people were invited to talk about us. As it is sadly the practice, no one from our community was considered worth of listening to. But, as we have learnt, we must not be silenced. As a result of our protest, Michael J. Carley, from GRASP, and Ari Ne’eman, from ASAN, received the late invitation.
Non-speaking Autistic Advocate Speaks about Myths Surrounding Disability and Independence
Written by Amy Sequenzia
Throughout my life I heard comments about how difficult everything would be for me, how I would never be independent, or have an independent life. If I could grow up to live independently, I would prove that my life had value. If the perception was that I would become an adult who could not live independently, that would prove that I was too damaged, that my life would never be fulfilling.
It was said that my future would be very bleak because of the many needs I have, because I communicate in a different way, because I cannot take care of myself.
It's no secret that more males than females are diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. Evidence shows that there are differing behaviors between autistic males and females. Some feel the diagnostic criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorders, the DSM IV has neglected to address this important issue. The theory of autism being a form of an "extreme male brain" may be at work as well—and not always to the advantage of us unique and varied autistic ladies!
When people question if autism is really different in females than it is in males, I find myself thrown back into a nice neat square box from which it seems there is no escape.
I have written about how functioning labels are not helpful, how they help perpetuate myths and how labels don’t really tell our stories.
I wrote from the perspective of someone who was labeled “low-functioning”; someone who has been called “retarded,” “too severe,” “without human dignity."
Some autistics who are labeled “high-functioning” also wrote about how such label is unhelpful in their lives and how their struggles are dismissed, ignored and rarely acknowledged.
Why does it seem like very few people are listening?
Many autistics use the blogosphere to self-advocate. Part of this is a rebuttal to messages that we see as damaging to all autistics. Messages like some articles about the “science” behind studies - like the one stating that autistics are not capable of romantic relationships; messages of pity and fear, propagated by advocacy organizations; the disregard for our lives when one of us is murdered; and the constant talk of a cure.
Doctoral Student Seeking Autistic Adviser for ASD Study on Sexuality
Written by Jessica Penwell Barnett, MA
I am a neurotypical doctoral student at the University of Windsor. I am doing my dissertation study on sexuality and its social context in the lives of people on the autism spectrum. I am looking for someone on the spectrum who would be interested in acting as an adviser on my study. I will provide an honorarium in appreciation of your time and expertise.
My study is an investigation of sexuality and romance as it is experienced by people with ASD. I am interested in people's personal accounts. I am also interested in the social and legal context of those accounts. For example, how do laws and service policies impact sexuality? I am approaching this topic from a sexual and disability rights perspective.
"I am non-speaking, I am happy and I communicate. I do not want to speak, I want to be respected."
Written by Amy Sequenzia
A couple of weeks ago someone read my article “Being Happy” and wrote a comment on Facebook. This person seemed to believe that I must want to speak, that I would be much happier if I could speak. I did not read the comment, I only heard about it. I cannot verify the exact words because the comment is not available anymore.
But I can say this: I don’t know if speaking would make me happier; and no, I do not want to speak.
Happiness, at least my happiness today, has to do with things that I have accomplished in my life, especially in this past year. That’s when I became more active in advocacy, when my articles began being published on line, when I became more involved with my autistic community.
I had never before thought about my life and where I am now in these terms: from ableist to self-advocate.
It might seem strange to think that I could have sabotaged myself into saying things that diminished my life and my struggles. But I did. And I believe this is not very uncommon.
From the moment I began to type until I finally let my voice reveal my real thoughts, I typed stereotypes and misconceptions about myself, about autism, about life as an autistic.
I was a child who had just started to type and some people saw that I had intelligence to be explored. But according to pretty much everyone I was “trapped,” “suffering from this terrible impairment” and “isolated from real life” - I “had autism.”