I dream, by Paul Kotler
I dream of the world to be hearing my voice, to change people's ideas about some struggles of autism, and for hope to be realized by others with autism.
I have one sister, a nephew and as of last week a newborn niece. In my free time, I like to listen to music and play ice hockey. I am planning to eventually pursue behavioral sciences psychology. I am currently in college and write my own blog.
Without a way to communicate, people treat you like a child and can only guess your needs and wishes. Frustration beyond words. No way to connect intellectually.
At age 14 I began a new approach that was the environment I needed to learn to communicate by typing. The method was called Rapid Prompting. People were astonished that I had understood everything all my life, so that was liberating. Having a way to communicate changed me and the feeling of despair left.
On becoming an advocate:
I was accepted to The Autism Campus Inclusion (ACI) Summer Leadership Academy in 2012. It was a week-long training by the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN). It was the only time I came to realize and accept myself as a person who communicated through typing.
A person who is well spoken is valued for their intellect, and often those who are not able to communicate their ideas are held in lower esteem. In the case of people with cognitive differences, often their odd behaviors and difficulty in social situations can tarnish a first impression and make building respect with neurotypical peers very difficult. People with ASD are not unaware of this inequality of esteem either, and it can often be hurtful.
It is my sincere hope that in the next decade every person with a cognitive difference that has a goal is able to meaningfully pursue that goal by their own hard work and the support of others. Neurodiversity is a tool in the transition from a world that thinks about us as damaged goods to a world that values our input. I predict that in the decades to come, Neurodiversity will replace the disease model way of thinking and that the dour attitude that surrounds ASD will lift. When that occurs, we can focus our efforts on creating systematic change in how we evaluate the value of other people.
Paul is an autism advocate and blogger. In addition to his work for autism, Paul is a college student and a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. He has presented on numerous occasions at New York University, and also at Holy Family University and JFK Rehab. His writing has been published in OT Practice and American Journal of Occupational Therapy. Paul's perspective can be found by visiting his blog, diverseautism.wordpress.com.