Last year, following the autism hearing in the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, I wrote a piece Mr. Wright, is autism an epidemic or not? Why not give real examples of how to make a financial impact? In the article I used an example of how getting more autistics employed could make a real impact financially in our country.
It was pointed out to me that the way I framed it, it read that only a fraction of the autistic population would be able to gain employment. An adult self-advocate pointed out to me that this is not the case, that real employment should be a goal for the entire population. And this self advocate is correct and I regret the way I worded that article.
It is worth noting that a self advocate was informing the parent of a child with multiple disabilities, including intellectual disability, that employment should be a goal for all. There is an important lesson in that apparent role reversal. Self-advocacy does not mean one advocates only for one’s self, nor for only other self advocates. This simple message often gets lost in the stereotyped presentations of self-advocates and parents.
The autism community is broad. No one person will advocate great change. No segment of the population will be very effective on its own. We are going to work together or we are going to fail.
By Matt Carey