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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

Saturday, June 02, 2007


Empowering Allies

Phil Schwarz wrote this great piece titled "Identifying, Educating and Empowering Allies" which was posted on from the 2004 Autreat session. Here is a paragraph:

Characteristics of Good Allies

Again, the gay community's model points the way here: the number of parallels between characteristics of good straight allies to gay people, and characteristics of good non-autistic allies to autistic people, is striking and significant.

But the gay community is not the only one with relevant models and experience here. In fact the following list was adapted from a women's rights organization's manual for male allies. (NY State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence Bulletin, What Makes a Good Male Ally?):

* They are able to take direction and leadership in work as an ally from autistic people.

* They understand that autistic people's empowerment is not a threat, but rather an additional strength.

* They listen to autistic people and have a willingness to "call out" other non-autistic people on autistic people's issues.

* They do not try to define the problems that autistic people share with them.

* They are willing to take a stand on issues of discrimination and exclusion by being vocal about them.

* They advance their perception of autism and autistic people by listening and talking to us and by challenging "conventional wisdom" & stereotypes about us.

* They model behavior for their friends and other non-autistic people by letting others see their example.

* They work to help unburden other non-autistic people of the misconception that autistic self-advocacy is about "attacking parents"

* They are willing to hear autistic people's reality "full out", with the realization that there are aspects of this reality that will be foreign to them.

* They are not struggling with their own identity and self-esteem, and do not need to prove that they are "normal"

* They are nonjudgmental — which implies equality and respect.

* They understand that autistic people know that all non-autistic people are not "the enemy".

* They are working to change the culture of mainstream autism organizations so that other non-autistic people can publicly voice their support for autistic self-advocacy.

* They don't assume that high-profile people in the "autism establishment" are automatically allied with us because of their credentials or positions of organizational leadership.

* They have done their personal work to become aware of their own issues relating to the issues autistic people face.

* They listen, but don't try to "fix" the problem by themselves.

Considering the discussion of yesterday, Phil recommended that we all take some time to read that piece once again. Thank goodness we have people who want to stand together and parents and supporters who want to learn.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never seen that list. I think its great. If Phil is reading, can I turn that list into a video? I'll make sure Phil get's full credit.


9:06 AM  
Blogger Suzanne said...

CS- you'd be The Man to take on that project! I hope you do. suz

2:06 PM  
Anonymous -Brian- said...

Even though I had not seen that list before, after reading it, I find that everything that I have said has been in keeping with that list.

That's the point--if you have goodwill within you, and are willing to stand up to discrimination with allies on your side, then whatever you do will match with others. It's not a matter of who you are, but of what you do, and how supportive you are of others, towards a goal (that goal being the advocacy and encouragement of autistic individuals, and their families, and their communities, and their lives). Any form of discouragement is counter-productive towards that goal. Each and every one of us needs personal support.

A person need not have read the list or even heard of it to practice its principles...

4:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wanted to leave some support for you and your work today. I think this is a great list. And I think you host a great blog and that The Autism Acceptance Project is wonderful. Perhaps every one knows this - just wanted to remind YOU. - Missy

11:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think my favorite part of your blog has got to be the name. I wanted to recommend a read from Dr. Blaylock regarding autism

11:04 AM  
Anonymous -Brian- said...

As far as the causes of autism, that, in itself, is veering away from the joy of autism, as people search for professional answers rather than listening, with their soul, to the flow of the autistic child, adolescent, or adult.

The real joy is not in knowing the details (scientific or otherwise), but in the landscape of the autistic mind as it searches beyond the facts of daily living into the unknown beyond anyone's imagination...with pure joy...

7:34 AM  
Blogger Raechel said...

My name is raechel and i have an 11 year old sibling with autism. I created a blog special for siblings because i wanted siblings to have someone like them to talk to. the url is tell your kids about it! Thanks!

2:20 PM  

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