“Autism awareness can’t stop with a list of what makes people with autism different from us. Because what is essential is the constant awareness of what makes us the same.”
Communication as a Centerpiece
The ability to communicate should not be confused with ability or complexity of thought, particularly for non-verbal children, but also for children whose language may be limited to requests and objections. Communication is not simply a behavior-reduction strategy. It is a central human need.
Presumption of Competence
“Just because someone doesn’t speak doesn’t mean they have nothing to say” – autism often interferes with communication and initiation, and masks the competence of those on the spectrum.
Strength-based, Positive Supports
Too often autism seems to result in a loss of equal treatment and an over-emphasis on differences and weaknesses.
The maze of intriguing but unproven approaches in autism can be overwhelming to parents, while many approaches that are well-grounded in research remain underused, or lack the resources required for broad implementation.
Naturalistic Settings & Methods
Not only are these the most ethical approaches toward individuals with autism, but evidence indicates that positive, inclusive, naturalistic learning approaches significantly increase motivation and learning.
Inclusion in schools & communities as a priority connected to all other supports
It can be short-sighted to pursue communication supports, behavior supports, and sensory supports without addressing the social aspects of autism and the need for connections and community. Issues of belonging, friendship, and quality-of-life should be valued and addressed alongside other goals.
Recognition & appreciation of differences in sensory processing, movement, & subjective anxiety
Certain methods may be successful in compelling desired behavior, but may not be humane or comfortable for the person with autism. It is essential to understand the need that certain symptoms may address, and to find adaptations that meet those needs – simply repressing them may produce unexpected new behaviors.
Partnership & advisory input from individuals with autism to inform research & design supports
Too often, individuals on the autism spectrum are studied, assessed and supported without their cooperation, participation, or input. People with autism can contribute important perspective, and reveal areas of need that might not be apparent.
"In the end, the best argument for inclusion is the simplest. It’s the one we know by heart – that all of us are created equal.”