Sunday, November 1, 2020

It Is Time

 Leeanne Marshall post Autistics Speaking Day 2020: It Is Time on The thoughts of One Autistic Person tumblr

Autistics Speaking Day 2020: It Is Time

It would be so easy to discuss the worldwide pandemic for my blog post. The impact it had (and continues to have) on me despite there being few cases of Covid-19 in my local area (the few cases are all in hotel quarantine). However, I think the world needs some positive news. Besides, it is time. Time for me to reflect and provide an update on my first two Autistics Speaking Day blogposts. To be honest, I have attempted to reflect and provide updates on these posts several times on previous Autistics Speaking Days but each time I either come up with an idea that is more relevant/important or I can not seem to find the right words on the day, leading me to write about something else. Not today though, I am determined to get this positive reflection/update Autistics Speaking Day post done.

Back in 2012, I wrote my first Autistics Speaking Day post here:

In this post, I mention that in the past, I had previously stayed silent on comments that I should have confronted. I challenged myself to speak up if/when these comments were brought up in future.

In 2013, I wrote my second Autistics Speaking Day post here:

I mention in this post that I still needed to work on advocating (communicating) for myself. Another para graph I included was “I do not yet know if I can succeed in holding down a job typically for neurotypicals (a teacher). I am sure however, that whatever my career ends up being, it will be related to education in some way and will hopefully be around including Autistic individuals in general education settings.”

It is at this point that I once again start thinking about ditching this writing and starting over with another post. I am worried this comes across as bragging, however, I will persist despite my worries. I completed my teaching degree in the middle of 2014 but ultimately, I decided being a teacher was not for me. That said, my jobs, my advocacy volunteer work etc. have all been related to education and indeed, inclusion of Autistic individuals (and people with other disabilities) in mainstream school settings. For starters, I am a casual academic at a local university. I am involved in an autism topic as a guest lecturer, an assignment marker and (sometimes) a tutor. Students in this topic are usually enrolled in teaching, education or disability studies degrees. This means I am influencing current/future teachers and their attitudes towards Autistic people by my involvement in this topic. Importantly, last year I was paid to assist in writing the case studies used for one of the assignments to ensure the case studies seemed to be real, diverse and included a range of issues for Autistic people.

Since late 2018, I have been part of the Inclusive School Communities (ISC) project as both a member of the steering group and a mentor (young, disabled person) connecting with the project schools. This project is about making schools in South Australia more inclusive for students with disability. Earlier this year, I wrote a report for this project based on two focus group sessions at a South Australian high school. The report went through issues faced by students with disability at school and suggestions for what this school (and other schools) could do to work on these issues, as well as what the school was doing well. I included 9 recommendations at the end of the report for schools. If readers are interested, the report is publicly available here:

Through meeting each other in the ISC project, two other school mentors and I got involved in advocacy volunteer work. We have had discussions with a Ministerial adviser regarding what needs to be done to make schools more inclusive and to save a local high school that has been making a lot of changes to be more inclusive. I personally also spoke at a rally to save the school. I am pleased to report that the school was indeed saved, a win in 2020.

So, as you can see from the above information, I have indeed been involved in the inclusive education space (just not as a teacher). As to the other problem I had, well, I am no longer silent when I should be speaking up. In fact, I sometimes worry that I dominate meetings with the other mentors in the ISC project (though they assure me that while I speak a lot, I do not dominate). Overall, I have certainly come along way since 2012-2013. Just goes to show how much personal growth and experiences can happen in 7/8 years. I have certainly done what I challenged myself to do in 2012 and what I wanted to do in 2013. I believe my efforts will help other Autistic people (and other people with disability).

……To my readers, I think now it is time for you to do some reflection. In what ways do you make the world a better place? For your local community, for your friends/family and/or for yourselves?

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