To be a Self-Advocacy Leader of any group, people have to remember that there are different roles of leadership in the world. Everyone leads and follows at the same time whether they realize it or not. However, leadership takes ownership in the person’s life empowering them to take on their struggles head on and use their struggles as a platform to build their life. For example, someone who is non-verbal and not able to express their words through their physical voice, needs to express their desire to communicate by using assistive and augmentative communication devices that will help them use their voice. They are still leaders! Many Non-Autistic people believe that many people who can’t communicate through their physical voice have no rights and can’t stand up for themselves. Thus, this is where the problem arises because a lot of people have a problem thinking outside the box.
Thinking outside the box is a continuing issue for most people in the world because most people look at standards of what they want in society without deviating from the standards. This is a problem! This is why organizations like Autism Speaks are hopeless places for people to turn to. However, it’s also an easier place for people to turn to because the media promotes them. The media does not realize that this organization is not helpful because the media can not deviate from the way society sets these standards, for example, with physical voice and eye contact.
There are many ways a person communicates. For example, imagine everyone you met in the world were deaf or blind, then we would all be either using sign language to each other or braille. Think about this and even other examples! Then, if there were a minority of people talking and seeing well in society, everyone probably would consider people speaking and seeing, lost, dead, souls throwing them in institutions to make them society’s normal. Now let’s go back to reality! In reality, the majority of people use eye contact, talk with their mouths, can see, walk, and hear well. The rest of us are the minority who can not make eye contact or talk with our mouths or can’t see or can’t walk or can’t hear well. The more Non-Disabled people realize that disability is a part of the human experience, the more they will realize that leadership is a part of being human too, the more everyone will have fulfilling lives in an inclusive society without struggling through pain and having outbursts. However, many people in the world do not see the full picture and can not think outside the box.
When someone has a creative mind, they can think outside the box and by thinking outside the box, the person knows they will make mistakes and grow more. The world wants to be perfect, but perfection does not exist. Perfection is just a bad assumption to make. I noticed that many of society’s standards are not very realistic because of the ‘perfect’ factor. People want to be perfect, so they forget about humanity. Being human is not being perfect, being human is just a way of providing ourselves with being more of a creative thinker. There are different ways of being creative too. Everyone has their own mind where they experience the world differently from their peers and family. Organizations like Autism Speaks needs to realize this too!
At my current job leading groups for an agency in New York City, I love my job and I love helping others in the Disability community who have similar or different disabilities than myself. It’s been a great experience so far and it only will get even better. I lead groups two days a week as a pilot program that can lead into a great endeavor of personal experience to help for outreach. I create presentations each week and meet with the people who go to the day hab centers and live in the residences the agency provides for them. This experience I have will lead more to an empowering movement in the whole disability community for everyone including myself. Let’s get started on thinking outside the box about Disability!