Calling all autistic college students

10 Aug

A representative of the Autistic Social Action Committee mailed me to ask me to help draw attention to this. Happy to oblige.

Wanted: We are looking for independently communicating autistic individuals who are successfully attending an institution of higher education. Those classified as Asperger’s or any other type of autism are equally welcome. We hope to create a regularly updated blog of autistic individuals attending an institution of higher education for the purpose of changing public perception of autistics in the eyes of parents, professionals, the media, the general public and our own communities. In addition, we hope this blog will serve as a valuable resource for autistics currently in higher education or entering it in the future. We aim for readers who will follow our blog to leave with an understanding of the extensive possibilities of the autistic neurology.

Requirements:

Standard rules of English grammar and spelling will apply, according to either US or UK English (depending on location).
Weekly updates will be expected of all bloggers on the topic of their college experiences. The purpose of these updates are to provide an insight into the unique challenges autistics face in higher education, yet also the many successes that we can achieve. We are looking for bloggers who will provide an open and honest discussion of their experiences, celebrating and stressing their positive experiences while providing practical advice on how to deal with negative ones.
Bloggers must be currently attending an institution of higher learning as of the Fall 2006 Semester.

How to Apply:

Contact AutisticAction@gmail.com by August 22nd with:
A brief biography of yourself (no more than 250 words)
An example of a blog-type entry you have written in the past on any topic that conforms to standard rules of English
A 500-1,000 word description of how you feel about being an autistic and what your plans for the future are
A brief description of your current life situation including, but not necessarily limited to, name, what college or university you are currently attending, age and year in school, area of study, hobbies and personal interests and any current or past employment.
Any past involvement in autistic advocacy, neurodiversity or policy issues will be looked upon favorably and should be included in the application
Applicants should feel free to provide links and/or information about to any websites they maintain or to any of their writings or personal projects.

Who we are:

The Autistic Social Action Committee is a Manhattan-based advocacy and community organization for autistic individuals of all ages and interests. We seek a movement away from the paradigms of disease and epidemic, neither of which are accurate or conducive towards autistic success and prosperity. We believe that autistic individuals hold the inalienable right to live as they are and that their neurological type should be respected and honored along with other forms of human diversity, such as race, religion, skin color or national origin. Our goals include providing a forum for autistic adults to interact with each other and promoting the growth of autistic culture and community. It is our belief that any effective and meaningful venture to provide services for autistic individuals requires the consideration by and the involvement of the autistic community. In addition, we seek to ensure the best possible educational environment for autistics of all ages, noting with concern the proliferation of segregated and inappropriate placements and the difficulties facing autistics of all types in higher education. Finally, we seek to change public perception of autistics by fighting against damaging stereotypes and promoting the success of autistic role models and community leaders, both for the purposes of inspiring the autistic community and educating the general public.

7 Responses to “Calling all autistic college students”

  1. Becca August 10, 2006 at 10:11 #

    So… they want our work (and 1000 words is a lot of work for this autistic higher education student) but only if it doesn’t sound ‘too autistic’ when we write? To change the public perception so that the world thinks autistic people who can study at the highest level are only the ones that can reliably write normal English prose? Facilitated communicators need not apply? It sounds like this idea will create another unaccurate picture of a sub-group of autistic people, to me.

  2. Julie August 10, 2006 at 13:09 #

    I immediately thought this would be great for my son, an Aspie who just completed his master’s degree and will be starting a PhD program in a couple of weeks. But those requirements… He would have no problems with the standard English part, but “insight” is not his strong point. Also, I wonder if he knows how to celebrate and stress his positive experiences while providing practical advice on how to deal with negative ones. I’m going to send him this link anyway. He’s one of the most interesting people I know.

  3. anonimouse August 10, 2006 at 14:20 #

    Heck, just the simple task of illustrating that young autistic adults go to institutions of higher learning should be enough to dispel many of the myths being circulated by the Autism Speaks/CAN crew. (i.e., that if you’re autistic, you’re doomed to be rolling around the floors of a special education classroom racked with autistic entercolitis, as per RFK, Jr.)

  4. Ballastexistenz August 10, 2006 at 14:48 #

    I’ve already asked them what’s meant by “independently communicating,” and provided the example of a woman I know who spoke at a conference on a panel. The two other panelists were a middle-aged man who used FC with some physical support and a young man who spoke.

    The middle-aged man made clear that his words were his own through his fairly limited speech and a few gestures. The younger man spoke but constantly asked his mother what to say and didn’t seem to say anything without her prior coaching and approval.

    This is where I have the problem with assuming that it’s the person using FC who’s going to be less “truly” communicative and more “influenced” by others thoughts, and who has to prove they are who they say they are.

    Plus being asked to prove you exist is something a lot of autistic people get every day, and being given a Turing test before you get listened to is pretty demeaning.

    Another thing I did not address but should have, is that for many autistic people, utterly standard English or a certain number of words is prohibitively difficult for anything besides things like college/university assignments and presentations and such. Watch “Autism Is A World” at some point and look at how time-consuming it is for Sue Rubin to write a speech, are you sure she or anyone who types that slowly (or types faster but comes up with words that slowly) is going to want to write a giant application for this? What about people such as the first man I described earlier, who uses a huge vocabulary but highly non-standard sentence structure? If he were in college, would his words be disallowed from this because they weren’t perfectly standard English?

    (This is going to be particularly an issue for people who gained access to speech or typed communication at a very late age. Most people that I know who did that have a lot of trouble with standard sentence structure — there are neurological reasons for this — but some go to college.)

    It seems like they don’t just want autistic college students, they want primarily the most able autistic college students, which would be a waste.

  5. Ari August 11, 2006 at 04:35 #

    I’ve made this clarification previously and I’m glad to do it again here. FC users are welcome and encouraged to apply. The point is to give a complete view of the spectrum, not just the “shiny aspie” stereotype. There’s a reason it’s the Autistic Social Action Committee, not the “Asperger’s” or “Asperger’s & HFA” or what have you organization. We believe in rights for all autistics and we welcome anyone who shares our ideals and can help us work towards them.

    The main focus of the requirements is to ensure that people who will be willing to blog regularly and make a committment to that that they can keep apply, but we’re very willing to be flexible on the exact application requirements if someone can convince us of that. It would be very bad for the project if someone dropped out in the middle. I’m sorry for the confusion and I hope that addresses your concerns. Please feel free to e-mail if you have any further questions.

  6. Babbler August 11, 2006 at 07:01 #

    Sounds interesting. But how do you determine if a blogger actually has autism/Asperger’s?

  7. andrea August 12, 2006 at 02:31 #

    “A representative of the Autistic Social Action Committee of the Autistic Social Action Committee mailed me…”

    Am I getting absolutely barmy, or is that a Department of Redundancy Department moment?

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