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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Writer/Curator/Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project. Contributing Author to Between Interruptions: Thirty Women Tell the Truth About Motherhood, and Concepts of Normality by Wendy Lawson, and soon to be published Gravity Pulls You In. Writing my own book. Lecturer on autism and the media and parenting. Current graduate student Critical Disability Studies and most importantly, mother of Adam -- a new and emerging writer.

“There is no hope unmingled with fear, and no fear unmingled with hope.” -- Baruch Spinoza

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Helping or Hindering: ABA cases and it's role in discrimination of autistic children. That's the topic I will write on soon. Keep checking in for it.

I've called OISE at U of T. They too do not take kids with autism. Everywhere I ask,we get turned down. I keep asking myself why? With all the legislation to provide equal rights to education, WHY? I know we can't legislate prejudice away, but maybe it's a step in the right direction. Without legislation and advocacy, where will our children go?

I am disappointed with the ABA schools -- I called Montesorri School for Autism -- and although it's director is so very nice, and she wants to integrate, she is new and her program only services half-days for kids with autism. So too, it is too specialized. The goal of integrating is not yet achieved here.

We need a small school to start the model for integrating autistic kids -- providing enriched programs and IEPs (Independent Education Plans) to service everyone from the gifted to the delayed, while keeping them together. In such a school, the neurotypical kids can build their self-esteem by learning to help and teach those that require extra assistance, thereby building a future model for tolerance in our society. In autism, where expression is largely different or difficult, I truly believe that exposure is also important. We must never underestimate the cognitive abilities of autistic people. Just because the manifestation or output is atypical, it doesn't mean that autistic people aren't absorbing everything that is presented. We need a school that honours this while providing supports so that people with autism feel empowered and can build their self-esteem. I am shocked how we are being turned away at every school. The alternative is that I do this myself -- and I already have people ready to jump aboard. It will have to start small, and as I said, the model will be built so that it can be supplanted to other schools. What I envision is a plan that will finally make Ontario legislation for inclusive schools possible, successful and efficient.

As for the piece I am preparing on ABA cases, I believe the plight of parents is the same as mine-- the struggle to educate our autistic kids. I don't believe in the slow-paced approach and isolation that ABA programs cultivate (most therapists won't expose kids to new things until the task is "mastered" -- thereby totally viewing the typical response as the means to the end). The main and big difference is the legal argument used -- constructed with semantics like disability, inability and dependence -- the view that in the end, strips away the dignity of autistic people as people who want to be independent, are abled, require special assistance, but also have equal rights. When I get frustrated with autism, it is my problem, not my son's. This frustration is built from years of my growing up NOT exposed to different people. Now that I've learned otherwise, I believe we must grow and nurture a youth that wills support and include our kids in society.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of all the blogs so far, I identify with yours very much. I am new to Toronto (via NY) and the healthcare system is so unusual as well as the long waits to see a developmental pediatrician. I think the dx will not be a surprise, perhaps PDD NOS. There are good days though when my husband and I think, are we crazy- our son is chatting, counting, & affectionate. But then a moment later using visual regard for any and all wires in the house. And I thought Rubix cube was a mystery to solve!
An integrated school is brilliant but it will be a tough sell to the parent's of NT students because although there are benefits of the NT students being "mentors" it could also be distracting when in pursuit of their academic endeavors, perhaps. However, clearly for the child on the spectrum it is a win-win situation.
Best wishes,

7:24 PM  

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