Change for Rhode Island

Autism Acceptance

Re-orienting the science, education, and societal attitudes towards Autism to one of acceptance. This means moving away from “pathology” and “cure” language to one of tolerance and eventually acceptance. This includes altering public and work spaces to meet our needs as individuals, so that we can participate in the world more fully. Embracing the social model of disability is key to understanding that the world was not built with us in mind, in the same way that it wasn’t built for short people or anyone outside an accepted “norm”. This has left us either doing work far below our capability or unable to work at all. We can do better.


End Applied Behavior Analysis

ABA claims to “improving specific behaviors, such as social skills, communication, reading, and academics as well as adaptive learning skills, such as fine motor dexterity, hygiene, grooming, domestic capabilities, punctuality, and job competence”. This is a rather large, unrealistic list for one therapy. First off, “improving specific behaviors” means removing self-regulatory self stimulation because it is unsightly, ie. dog training Autistic people to be socially acceptable. The rest is a mix OT and tutoring that could just as easily be left to the trained professionals do. ABA is largely inconsistent and not well regulated. Many now say they don’t used strict ABA and instead use a “mix of styles”, but they still teach kids they can’t say, “No,” and their feelings will be dismissed. PTSD is a common result of ABA.

Meaningful Work

Acceptance means developing work programs for Autistic adults to allow us to work to our capacity. This could mean not forcing us to the 9 to 5 model, but rather a goal-oriented one. This may also include work from home models, management & employee training, and office modifications. Employees will be more resistant to helping disabled workers if they believe they are receiving “special treatment” or if they will be put-upon to clean up others’ messes. This kind of thinking is indicative of the environment as a whole. Oppressive or over-worked environments are not healthy for anyone regardless of neurotype and could not function well enough to include Autistic workers. Government incentives to make changes, prep staff, and so forth would help ease transitions. Without decent models that don’t pay Autistic less for the same work, this may be trial and error. Each Autistic person has different needs and capabilities. Cookie-cutter thinking will ultimately exclude.

Autistic Pride Day

As many times as we try to explain to people that “pride” in this context is celebrating of right to dignity, confidence, and self-respect, people do not seem to get beyond, “Why are you proud of the disability/disorder/illness? Why should be support that?” The LGBT movement went through much the same because of being classified as a mental disorder for many years. There are still people that cannot accept difference as anything other than disorder. We think that kind of simplistic world view, these simple boxes to which we all must conform, is the problem. A pride day would help people come to acceptance as it would help people see us, not their preconceived understanding of us.