Monday, June 29, 2015

Continuing the discussion on inclusion in the classroom

Inclusion is a bit of a buzz word, I guess. It is thrown around to assure everyone that schools are supportive and understanding of students with extra support needs. But the reality of attending school as a Neurodivergent person is a bit more complicated than being told you are included.

A persons physical presence in an environment is not actually an indication that they are included in a meaningful way. It is possible for a persons presence in an environment to be treated in such a tokenistic way that being “included” actually makes them more of a victim, and no one notices because it is called “inclusion” and words like “positive” and “support” are used.

Let’s talk about school again for a bit.
image: purple box over a light grey shadow,
with the words "Is that real inclusion?"


The way the school system is set up relies on compliance to work.

Everything is on a schedule, even eating, drinking and bathroom use.

Read for 15 mins, spelling for 15 mins, write for 30 mins. Be quiet, concentrate, keep up. If you don’t, you are “falling behind”. If the pace set is too slow, too bad. Even unstructured time has a structure….. sit here to eat, walk in lines, no running on concrete, only play on the equipment on Tuesday, etc. etc. etc.

If you are a person who finds it difficult or undesirable to comply it is likely that you will do things that will be labelled as “problems” or “defiant” or “troublesome”. You are likely to be subject to a behaviour management technique known as “Positive Behaviour Support”.

PBS is there to encourage compliance.



The teachers track and log “problem behaviours”. They look for patterns, then devise solutions for the kids to comply with. They do sometimes change the environment or schedule (this is when it can work well), by my experience is usually that they “teach” the kids a strategy.

There is a strong emphasis on rewards, which sounds good….. unless what happens in reality is this: The high achieving, already compliant kids get lots of rewards, the kids who draw attention to themselves with “problem behaviour” get lots of rewards for doing little things that everyone else is just expected to do with no reward, and the kids who are “average” or manage to hold it together at school and achieve surface compliance get overlooked.

How does this impact students? Well, high achievers love it, unless they are singled out by other kids and labelled as ‘teachers pets’ or ‘favourites’ and experience shaming or bullying, or unless they just prefer to not be the centre of attention. The “problem behaviour kids” get lots of attention and rewards, leaving other kids (because kids are smart) realising the “problem kids” are being coerced with rewards to do very basic stuff - this often leads to resentment and frustration (eg “Mrs Sutton, I’ve been finishing my spelling test properly every single week, and I find them really hard, but I’ve *never* had a reward for it like {child} does” and “Mrs Sutton, can I please have a turn on the iPad this week, I haven’t had one yet this term because {child} always gets them in free time for not being noisy in maths”- both said to me when working as a relief teacher). The kids in the middle somewhere ….. they start to think that it doesn’t matter what they do they will never be good enough or get noticed. They are probably right.

There are other issues that contribute to the creating of victims within a system of “inclusion”.

If you ask for environmental accommodations, the school is limited in what they can do because of the availability/willingness of staff to supervise and the physical constraints of the existing buildings.

Teachers are not trained to support children with a variety of needs, learning styles, challenges, disabilities, or even really at different stages on the learning continuum. By this I don’t mean that all this is not mentioned at Uni or in classrooms. I mean that it is mentioned…. given lip service to… but ultimately teachers are neither properly trained or properly supported to do these things well.

The assessment system still requires teachers to measure against a standard, so they teach to that standard. Teaching to that standard requires a certain amount of time and paperwork, leaving the teacher tired, stretched beyond one persons mental, emotional and physical resources, and relying on compliance from the kids to get through it all.

So, back to PBS. Evidence based it may be…. just like ABA….. but I’m not convinced it is a good approach in schools because unless the school staff are unusual they are still applying a one solution fits all style of thinking to it. I often say to people…. “yes, ABA works. It does what it says it will do. It eliminates unwanted behaviours, but at what cost? And who gets to decide what behaviours are unwanted?”

PBS identifies unwanted behaviours, and looks at when they are occurring, and tries to look at why. Problem is, what if, for example, the behaviour identified is a coping behaviour? What if it is lashing out at kids in the playground, when usually the child is quiet and “well behaved” in class? The teachers might see that and think because it occurs in the playground it is being caused by something in the playground (reasonably logical assumption for a lot of kids). But what if the real cause is in the classroom and the child involved has been holding it together in the classroom because the rule there is ‘be quiet and concentrate on your work’? The teachers might be insisting on the wrong change. Then when that doesn’t work they slowly but surely revert to strategies like shaming and punishment without looking further. The child becomes overwhelmed then and shuts down. The behaviour stops. The PBS is deemed effective. The child is traumatised, but now there is no behaviour to track, so no one notices or cares. Backs are patted and outcomes are achieved. Inclusion and mainstreaming are deemed successful. Celebrations all around, but what really happened was a child was broken.

Then, because it “worked” for some kids, when it doesn’t work for others (remember the “problem behaviour kids”?) they are labelled as “just disruptive” and the goals for them become condescending things like “doesn’t disrupt others learning”. Their presence is tolerated, but the teachers pretty much give up on them and just want them to not interfere. These are the kids who later on it will be recognised “slipped through the cracks”. We aren’t told the system failed them, because admitting that would mean we’d have to look at the system, and besides…. it worked for everyone else, didn’t it?

The other thing PBS fails to take into account is effort. Teachers assume high achievement equals high effort and low achievement equals low effort. We know this not to be true. In my family I have one son who barely tries and archives top marks, and one who tries so hard he exhausts himself, but still an’t “keep up” with his age peers. PBS requires effort from the kids, but does not acknowledge that high effort can still result in not meeting goals set for you by other people who do not understand the real problem.

One thing I have found over the years is that consistently, when I presented my document about my son to the new years teacher/s, the ones who choose to implement my suggestions have without fail commented to me at some stage in the year that the whole class was benefitting from the changes they made for L. Simple strategies, like those mentioned here, can prevent the “need” for behaviour modification programs.

I also want to say that my Autistic kids aren’t the only ones I feel are failed by PBS. 9 yr old K is happy at school, involved in many extra creative and performing arts activities, and achieving well academically. Last week she said to me “I just don’t get chosen for awards, Mum. I try and try, and I think I’m doing well, but the teachers don’t notice”. I for one would love to see some research done on how kids find PBS, as it is done to them.

I think that is probably the key to why I object to it, actually. It is done *to* the kids and for the benefit of the teachers. Learning should not be done to someone. Teachers are seen as gatekeepers, not partners. If the student does’t do it the teachers way they are “wrong”. The teacher is not seen as having an obligation to figure out how to do it differently to support the child, the child is expected to respond to being shown how to do it the teachers way, then become “successful” using the strategies imposed on them.

In my sons years in school he had one teacher who really understood that. My son flourished in that class. He loved it. It was the best year ever for him, and every year at school after that was a slide further into frustration until we pulled him out last year in favour of homeschooling.

The rub for me is I am a big supporter of both public education and inclusion, but I cannot wait for things to change while my kids attend. It is not safe for them. They are at home, and I continue to advocate for change while people look at me incredulously because "why should you care? your Autistic kids aren't even at school!!" 


The fact is, I care because all children miss out when we fail to approach education from a mindset of inclusion. I have non-Autistic children attending school (because they want to). I want them to be able to attend a school that accepts their siblings and supports them well. That is not going to happen in the next 10 years. The system as it stands is too broken.

For inclusion to be real, and successful, it requires measures to be put in place in the planning phase. Those things need to be physical, structural, environmental, and taken into account when drawing up plans for buildings. They need consider the social, emotional and academic needs of students and be taught to teachers while they are training. They need to be included in policy document and curriculum. 

While inclusion continues to be an afterthought to satisfy policy makers and quiet those who celebrate diversity but are seen as dissenters, the education system will remain a dangerous place for my Autistic children to be. But I will keep speaking out in support of real inclusion and real acceptance of diversity.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Autism and Bullying: Facts and Strategies


Bullying is a big issue for many Autistic people. We've dealt with it in our house, and I know many readers of this blog will have dealt with it too. My Autistic son was bullied at school. By "friends", peers, and even teachers. It was heartbreaking and exhausting for both him and me. Sadly, our society and education system tend to at the very least excuse or minimise bullying, and at worst support the bully by blaming the victim for what happened. 

In this infographic I present some facts about bullying, and some strategies to deal with it. My suggestions are not an exhaustive list by any means. Readers may want to leave their own ideas in the comments. 

I am happy for people to share the image, but please credit me and link back to this article, or to my Facebook page when you do. If you wish to print the image or otherwise reproduce it for your own use, please click here for access to the downloadable PDFs.

There is an image description following the image.

You can click on the image for a better look at it. 






Image title: Autism and Bullying: Facts and Strategies

Copyright statement: 

©Michelle Sutton *www.michellesuttonwrites.blogspot.com.au *Please credit when sharing *Do not reproduce without written permission

In a yellow box at the top left of the image:
Definition of bullying:
Bullying is repeated verbal, physical, social or psychological behaviour that is harmful and involves the misuse of power by an individual or group towards one or more persons….
Bullying can involve humiliation, domination, intimidation, victimisation and all forms of harassment…
source: http://www.schools.nsw.edu.au/studentsupport/bullying/definition/

In a blue box in the top middle of the image:
Facts:
In Australia 62% of Autistic students report being bullied once a week or more.
In contrast, around 20% of students without disabilities report being bullied once a week or more.
Bullying affects a persons mental health and wellbeing. People who are seen as being different are often targets of bullies.
source: https://www.qld.gov.au/disability/children-young-people/bullying-disability-mental-health/

Below the blue box is a diagram with 10 figures representing people. 6 of them are highlighted purple. This image represents the 62% of Autistic students who report being bullied at school.

In a green box in the left and middle of the image:
What to do:
Listen! If someone tells you they are being bullied, do not brush off their feelings or concerns. Take them seriously. Write down what they tell you in as much detail as possible.
Comfort and reassure! If someone is being bullied, they are likely very upset by the experience, even if they do not express this in a way you would expect. Reassure and comfort them. Tell them you care and you will get them help.
Get help! Find out who can help, tell them what is happening and ask them to help.
Help looks like: confronting a bully and letting them know their behaviour is not OK, removing a bully from the situation so they no longer have access to their target, being with the victim to provide moral support until they feel confident again, educating all members of the community about the value of diversity and difference, teaching all members of the community how to stand up to a bully both for themselves and in support of others.

In a red box down the right hand side of the image:
Do not:
encourage the use of “social skills training” for the Autistic person as the solution to them being bullied
assume the Autistic person is over-reacting or just upset because they aren’t able to “interpret social situations”
say things like “just because you didn’t like what they did does not make it bullying”, “if you didn’t react they would stop”, and “that’s just life, you need to toughen up and get used to it”
All these things are victim blaming
Do not:
be satisfied with signing a petition or pledge or statement against bullying. Social media activism has it’s place, but “awareness raising” is not a suitable stand alone strategy to deal with bullying

In an orange box along the bottom of the image:
Remember: People who are bullied are victims.
No one “asks” to be bullied. No one deserves to be bullied.

Monday, June 8, 2015

What Autistic children learn from adult responses

This post is a follow on from my article "Every moment is a learning moment". I have tried to summarise the ideas I wrote about in a clear and succinct way. As with my other infographics, this is not an exhaustive list. 

I am happy for people to share the image, but please credit me and link back to this article, or to my Facebook page when you do. If you wish to print the image or otherwise reproduce it for your own use, please click here for access to the downloadable PDFs. 


There is an image description following the image.

You can click on the image for a better look at it.





Image title: What Autistic children learn from adult responses
Copyright statement: 
©Michelle Sutton *www.michellesuttonwrites.blogspot.com.au *Please credit when sharing *Do not reproduce without written permission

There are three coloured boxes on the page. From left to right blue with the heading "Child does", light red with the heading "Adult responds", then purple with the heading "Child learns". In each square there are 3 sections going down the pageant each section spans the width of the page, so goes over each colour. 

Information presented in each section reads as follows

Child does 
Meltdown 
looks like: crying, yelling, hitting, kicking, 
can be caused by: sensory overload, environmental stress, social stress, anxiety, tiredness, lack of ability to process information
Adult responds
Raises voice, shames child (e.g. “how rude!”), excludes child, states “you can come back when you are calm”
Child learns
I am only acceptable when I do not express my feelings
Adult responds
Stays calm, acknowledges child is having a hard time, states “I am here. I will help you once I know what you need”
Child learns 
My feelings are valid and I am acceptable even when I am overwhelmed and struggle to stay calm

Child does
Shutdown
looks like: not speaking, not making eye contact, hiding, running away
can be caused by: sensory overload, environmental stress, social stress, anxiety, tiredness, lack of ability to process information
Adult responds 
Raises voice, shames child (e.g. “don’t be such a baby”), excludes child, states “if you want help you have to use your words”
Child learns
I am not acceptable when I cannot express my feelings
Adult responds
Stays calm, acknowledges child is having a hard time, states “I am here. I will help you once I know what you need”
Child learns
My feelings are valid and I am acceptable even when I am overwhelmed and struggle to express myself

Child does
Lash Out (“Aggressive”)
looks like: may hurt others physically, throw things or say hurtful things
can be caused by: sensory overload, environmental stress, social stress, anxiety, tiredness, lack of ability to process information
Adult responds
Raises voice, shames child (e.g. “how dare you?”), excludes child, states “That is naughty! You need to use self control”
Child learns
I am only acceptable when I do not make mistakes
Adult responds
Stays calm, acknowledges child is having a hard time, states “I can see you are feeling bad, but it is not OK to hurt people. Let’s find another way to help you feel better ”
Child learns
My feelings are valid and I am acceptable even when I make mistakes and struggle to stay calm

In an orange box across the bottom of the page are the words
Every moment is a learning moment. 

What are you teaching Autistic children?

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Every moment is a learning moment

People learn all the time. 

Think about it. We are all always learning. 
Drink the last of the juice, it is gone. Lesson learned.
Throw a ball inside, things get knocked over. Lesson learned.
Give a compliment, get a smile. Lesson learned.
Don't study, get a poor mark. Lesson learned.
Forget to wash your clothes, nothing clean to wear. Lesson learned.
Plant a seed, grow a plant. Lesson learned.
On and on.
Every day. 

Communication is a skill we must learn.

My typically developing two year old is currently having a language explosion. Multiple new words every day. He's been watching us since he was born. He is good at reading non-verbal cues and at mimicking verbal communication. This week alone he has acquired the all important skills of using the phrases "but, Muumuum...", "not fair!" (complete with foot stamp), and "that's mine!". He has six older siblings to learn from. He has also learned "yes, please", "bless you", thanks Mum", "I love it", "what happened?", "Are you OK?" and "Go Swannies!", among other things. We support his developing language as best we can by encouraging, modelling and interacting with him. 

My Autistic son at the same age was still pretty much non verbal. He said Mum and Dad and babbled a few other phrases, but that was about it. He did communicate though. He had been watching us since he was born. He used a complex system of hand gestures (some his approximations of the sign language we had taught him, some his own), verbal utterances, and sound effects. He was communicating, and we understood him fine. We had to interpret for him to be understood by people outside the immediate family, but he was communicating. By the time he was six he was talking, but still difficult to understand. He now uses spoken language, but feels like it is very hard work and it costs him a lot of energy. We support him as best we can by encouraging, modelling and interacting with him.  

My Autistic daughter 'spoke well' from a young age. She had been watching us since she was born.  The words came, but she had a lot of trouble communicating her needs. The slightest stress and she did, and still does, find speech very difficult. She will stop speaking, or say things she doesn't mean to, or just yell and scream. She finds this incredibly embarrassing. Her meltdowns are a way she communicates with us that she is not coping. There are signs before the meltdown too, hints in her posture, her tone of voice, the words she uses. We support her as best we can by encouraging, modelling and interacting with her.  

Every time my kids interact with me, communicating in their own ways, they learn something. When I respond to 2 year old R's approximations at verbal communication with respect and encouragement, he learns that I value him and his communication attempts. When I respond to 16 year old L's efforts at verbal communication with respect and encouragement, he learns that I value him and his communication attempts. When I respond to 8 year old G's meltdowns with respect and encouragement, she learns that I value her and her communication attempts.

Every time we respond and react to our children's communications they learn something. 

So, it bears thinking about what we want them to learn.

When our children are working hard to learn, but finding it frustrating, do we want them to learn that their behaviour makes us uncomfortable enough that we will punish them for trying to communicate their feelings and frustrations? 

When our children are overwhelmed, do we want them to learn that we are not interested in helping them unless they express their overwhelm in a way we find acceptable? 

When our children are doing their best, but their best doesn't look like what we expected, do we want to tell them that their best is not good enough for us? 

Because those things are what happen when we expect Autistic children to communicate in the same way as non-Autistic children. Those things are what happen when we expect Autistic children to respond the same way to a classroom environment as a non-Autistic child. Those things are what Autistic children learn when we respond to their communications with admonitions, rebukes and corrections. 

Every moment is a learning moment. 
image: a toddler climbing a set of concrete stairs
words: fb/amazingadvanturesautism
"every moment is a learning moment"

With every reaction, every response, we give the child information about what we think of them, and how much we value them. 

Is having things done the way we expect, the way we prefer, the way we are most comfortable with, worth telling our children they are not good enough? 

Every moment is a learning moment. 

What are you teaching your children? 









Friday, June 5, 2015

How to support an Autistic child in the classroom

In my article "Barriers to learning for Autistic people and how you can help", I talked about the ways in which classrooms can inhibit learning for Autistic people, and some of the ways we can help.

Today I'd like us to think about more general ways we can support Autistic children in classrooms. This involves challenging some of the assumptions we make about behaviour and the motivations behind it. It also involves teachers learning to be mindful of their reactions to behaviours they find challenging and often label as disruptive, aggressive, unresponsive and demanding. 

The information in this infographic is by no means exhaustive. It is intended only to be a starting point in identifying ways teachers may need to alter their thinking and approach. 

I am happy for people to share the image, but please credit me and link back to this article, or to my Facebook page when you do. If you wish to print the image or otherwise reproduce it for your own use, please click here for access to the downloadable PDFs.

There is an image description following the image.

You can click on the image for a better look at it. 





Image title: How to support an Autistic child in the classroom
Copyright statement: 
©Michelle Sutton *www.michellesuttonwrites.blogspot.com.au *Please credit when sharing *Do not reproduce without written permission

Classrooms are very difficult places for Autistic children. They are bright, noisy, uncomfortable and full of expectations.
In a yellow box:
Child may
"be disruptive": fidget, walk around, clap their hands, stamp their feet, vocalise loudly, hum, whistle, ask lots of questions, talk loudly to classmates, talk to themselves aloud
"be aggressive": lash out at others, throw things, yell
"be unresponsive": not answer when spoken to, hide, avoid eye contact, refuse to do assigned work
"be demanding": tell others what to do, insist on having things their way, expect things to be done a certain way every time

In a blue box:
Things you can do
*be gentle and patient
*explain to other students that the child is having a hard time
*ask other students to be gentle and patient
*reduce audio, tactile, visual and smell distractions in the classroom
*use quit and calm times to talk to the child about behaviours that are unsafe for the classroom (lashing out, throwing, etc.)
*use visuals to communicate things the child needs help remembering (e.g. class expectations, daily schedule)
*provide ear defenders and fidget toys
*not expect the child to always respond immediately
*regularly offer breaks to destress, eat and use the bathroom
*allow fidgeting and doodling

In a green box
Things you can say
"I can see you are having a hard time"
"How can I help?"
"It's OK. I understand. I am here for you."
"Don't worry, we will work it out"
"Do you need a break?"
"What do you need right now?"

In a red box
You should not
*label the child as 'naughty' or 'a trouble maker'
*raise your voice
*say anything to shame the child (i.e. "how dare you", "you should know better", "even the little  kids don't do that", "you are being naughty/rude/disruptive")
*punish the child for doing things they need to do to cope
*belittle the child if they need lots of support and encouragement
*rush the child to complete tasks or move on to the next activity
*attempt to force the child to do things

In an orange box at the bottom of the page
Remember: The child is not giving you a hard time-
the child is having a hard time and needs your help and support

In the middle of the page is an image of 4 basic person outlines, each head has a brain inside it and is a different colour, The larger person representing the teacher has a blue head. The three smaller people representing students have heads that are yellow, orange and red. 



Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Educational decisions that turned out to have probably been mistakes, and how we respond as a community

When L was younger we listened to people who said, "he should go to school so he can practice social skills and learn how to deal with society." 

We sent him to school. 

I'm pretty sure that was a mistake. 

He "coped". He did well academically. He kind of made a friend or two. He learned to conform, to follow directions, to do what the teacher said was important. 

He "coped". A bit less well over time. Until he didn't cope anymore, began to challenge the system a little, was demeaned by a teacher and we took him out of school. 

Now we are looking at a young man who will be finishing with his secondary education in 6 months or so. He has a long list of challenges that I can see have been caused by him having learned to conform, follow directions and do what someone else said was important. Some of his challenges are typical challenges Autistic people face, yes. But I can see now how I could have much better supported L by not listening to the "experts" and advocated for him in line with what my instincts were saying. 

What is the point of attending school to learn, if the environment makes the content inaccessible?

What is the point of being exposed to a society you don't understand, or have a desire to understand, to try and force understanding when the stress of being present inhibits your ability to decipher information? 

What is the point of venturing into a situation that causes you so much stress you can't unwind from it properly before you have to go back again, simply because they say it will be good for you because it is good for everyone else... when everyone else is not you and does not have the same challenges as you? 

What is the point? 

Hindsight is, of course, a brilliant clarifier. It is also a bit torturous. I can't be completely sure things would look that much different now if L had been homeschooled all these years. I still do think things would have been much easier for him. 

Today we were at the doctor for an appointment as part of developing some transition to adulthood strategies for L. We were discussing learning and schooling, friendship and social exposure. Two parts of the conversation have lingered prominently in my mind. 

We talked about the stress of completing text heavy, socially complicated school work tasks. The doctor said (not exact words....) that there is no point pushing a person to complete academic tasks in order for the teachers to tick bureaucratic boxes if the stress ends up causing an anxiety disorder. 

We talked about how often L leaves the house (or, doesn't) and how much he interacts with friends (or, doesn't). I outlined what L's week looks like. The doctor asked, "are you happy with that?". My reply was, "L doesn't need a lot of friends or social time to be happy. He is happier with very limited numbers of friends and very limited time outside the house. If he is happy, I am happy." The doctor looked at L, "Are you happy?" L replied immediately, "yes." And that wise doctor smiled a genuine smile, nodded, and said, "Good. Then keep doing what you are doing." 

That is the point, isn't it? When we set out to raise our children, we want them to grow up to know what they want, to know how to live their lives in a way that achieves what they want, and that they be happy. 

When L was attending school he was not happy. When he was (more or less) forced to keep someone else's schedule, obey someone else's rules, meet someone else's expectations - no matter the physical, mental or emotional cost to him - simply because everyone else did it and it would be "good for him", he was most decidedly not happy. He was, in fact, desperately unhappy. 

I know that there is no benefit to worrying that past decisions were mistakes and are going to cause problems in the future. I know that in my head. But as a mother, I can't help thinking on this at times. What if....? 

What if I missed the point entirely back then? What if the cost of that to my son will be his well being and happiness in the future? What if it is too late now to fix the damage done by my decision? 

Why am I sharing this? Not sure really.
.... maybe as a kind of confession. 
.... maybe to clear my mind.  
.... I think I'm hoping someone will be able to tell me it will all be fine even though I know that no one can promise anyone that. 
.... I think I want you all to know that this is hard for me, and for L, and I know it is hard for those of you who are walking similar journeys. 
.... I think I'm looking for community who understand. 
.... I think I'm hoping that from within community who share experiences we can all learn and grow and do better. 

Is that the point? Community growing together.....  acknowledging when we don't get it right and trying to make change? Realising together what doesn't work for our kids and being prepared to do something different and stand with each other as we do? 

No answers from me tonight.... just musings. Still learning, still growing, still trying, right alongside my son who lives with the results of the decisions I made. It is a heavy responsibility, this parenting job. 


Monday, June 1, 2015

The language of "Autism awareness" and the language of Autism Acceptance

I've said many times that I am not a fan of "Autism Awareness". You can read more here:

What does awareness get us? 

I will not "Light it up Blue"

World Autism Awareness Day 

Awareness vs Acceptance

Lastly, in my Autism is not an illness series published on Different kinds of normal, I specifically addressed the issue of the way we speak about Autism

This infographic is a summary of how the language used in the push for "Autism Awareness" contributes to the negative dialogue around Autism, and how the move toward ACCEPTANCE of Autism counters that. 

I am happy for people to share the image, but please credit me and link back to this article, or to my Facebook page when you do. If you wish to print the image or otherwise reproduce it for your own use, please click here for access to the downloadable PDFs.

The is an image description following the image.

You can click on the image for a better look at it. 





Image title: Autism Awareness versus Autism Acceptance 
Copyright statement: 
©Michelle Sutton *www.michellesuttonwrites.blogspot.com.au *Please credit when sharing *Do not reproduce without written permission

On the left in a blue box a group of words titled "Words typically used when people are aware of Autism".  The words in the box are: epidemic, struggling, symptoms, lost, syndrome, behaviour, deficit, disorder, tragedy, tantrums, suffering, challenging, therapy, burden, cure, hopeless, treatment, puzzle, compliance.

On the right in a green box a group of words titled "Words typically used when Autistic people are accepted". The words in the box are: diversity, support, value, community, strengths, belong, identity, achieve, accommodations, competence, advocacy, self care, love, celebrate, unique, understand, worth, goals, respect. 



A question at the bottom of the page reads "Which words do you use when speaking about Autistic people?