Friday, September 18, 2015

Listen… and Help Others Hear

We lack diversity in the autism community.

Think about what you see, online and in the media. I see upper-middle class parents, able to afford iPads and tutors and official diagnoses. I see parents who have the resources to fight for IEPs and physical accommodations.

I see self-advocacy leadership that has been fortunate (and hard working, certainly) to attend universities, travel the nation (or even internationally), and have forums that reach thousands.

What I don't see? Most of our actual community. The real community that represents autism's downsides. The marginalized communities, ignored and excluded from our boards, our commissions, our business networks.

How did my lower-income parents, without college educations, give me a chance to be more? How did they fight the odds? They did, and now I am in a position of privilege. But I don't seem to be making much of a difference.

Demand that your charities seek out the broadest possible array of advisers and board members. Remember, much like our schools, your community is nothing like some other communities. From my nice exurb, I can forget what inner-city and poor rural schools are like. I can forget what parents without means have to fight every day. Coming from a 72% Hispanic community, with Hispanic leadership at all levels, I can forget what it is to have minority voices silenced.

Remind yourself, there are voices with experiences unlike yours or mine. We need those voices in leadership positions. Don't make excuses. Reach out and add those people to committees and boards. Involved them. Make allowances for their special needs and socioeconomic situations, too. If you have to find ways to help someone be heard… then find those things you can do.

Don't make excuses. Make change.

2 comments:

  1. This is a good realization. Listen to help others hear. Thank you for sharing these point to ponder.

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  2. Thank you very much for your openness and honesty I am doing a school project for my development service program and have chose to follow your blog, I have enjoyed all of your posts so far! especially this one, Being on a few committees myself, it really made me ask myself am i doing enough? anyways thank you again and good luck on your MFA.

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