We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
We are so fortunate to live in a country founded on this principle which gives its citizens a voice to secure these rights and be governed by the consent of the people. Our country has not always lived by this standard, but it has come a long way and still must strive forward to live this ideal.
One frontier is in the area of people with disabilities, including autism. How can we start? (These are just a few ways, and are ideas from autistic people themselves)
1. See an autistic person as a complete individual with thoughts, feelings, preferences, and dreams. They are more like us than not. Accept, respect, and include them as people of the human race. Treat them as you would want to be treated yourselves.
2. Emphasize communication. Communication is not just vocal speech. It can be written, typed, gestured, spelled by pointing, signed, or pointing to pictures on an ipad or device. We need to teach communication at all costs, support it, and take time to listen to them. It is the primary way a person can be known and have some self determination for his or her own life.
3. (Here’s a neat idea from Jennifer Byde Myers, founder of Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism. I’ve also added some of my own ideas along with it) Create an Autism Corps, like the Peace Corps. Train a generation of young men and women to work with autistics who need support in daily living skills and communication. Include autistic adults in helping families with newly diagnosed children “find the ropes” in knowing how to care for, understand, and advocate for their kids.
Happy 4th of July!!!