Know your Voice, Know your Identities, Know your supports, and Live a Self-Determined Life

An Open Letter to the many primary and secondary educators as well as the many professionals who try to create tokens to Autistic and other Disabled people who they don’t give proper education to own their identities and opinions,

It’s important to create a better way for the Autistic/Disabled children and adolescents of the future adults of the Disability community and the broader community in the world. It’s important as well to create a system where the adults in the Disability community today finally know their voice and their identities count too. People need to develop their own self without any one especially Non-Autistic/Non-Disabled people influencing them that they can’t do much in society. This leads to many of the children eventually living in group homes like many of the Autistic/Disabled adult peers who struggled with the teachers in the school system as well growing up without a chance to learn.

School is an important project for every child growing up. No one should be denied a proper education because many teachers don’t want to develop more patience and spend more time with their students to get them through 12 years of schooling and go to college. When I watch the amount of people entering into the caretaker world for Autistic/Disabled adults I noticed many of the Non-disabled people who work with them even some parents, don’t preserve self-determination. Sadly, I start realizing how the whole primary and secondary education system pretty much sucks in the United States. I am not just talking about the public schools, but the fact that these children are also going to Residential Treatment program schools as well that really are segregative and do suck!! It’s not even just the Disability community which is denied proper education, but many other cultures of people too who don’t get the education they need. This all leads to mental health issues and addiction.

Many educators seem to only care about the most gifted people who are usually non-Disabled or non-Autistic people to finish high school and go to college. It’s only if any student becomes a good advocate for themselves during public high school that they actually do succeed to lead their own life through college eventually earning a decent living. Instead many Autistic/Disabled people wind up going to Adult day hab centers and group homes because society gave up on them. It is a very sad situation that many of these educators and other professionals do not help my many young peers in the Autistic/Disability community to learn responsibility in order to live a self-determined life.

When these people eventually do go to group homes, day hab, and even work in sheltered workshops earning a dollar an hour in some cases, they are treated like children, and act out like children, always acting out negatively. They are considered to be ‘behavior problems’ in society because no one taught them any better about responsibilities while attending their school years from kindergarten through 12th grade. And yet, most of these people have sensory meltdowns too that were always misunderstood as tantrums instead.

Society graduated many of these people with a IEP diploma which just states that they attended school without earning grades. Moreover, these people are told to learn social skills in adult classes when these types of skills should have been taught in public elementary school with the Non-disabled students. Most of these people can’t read or do not even know what it means to understand what they read, to write an essay, to do simple math, to sign their name, or to even know how they want to represent themselves in society.

Our society created a system where Non-Autistic/Non-Disabled people will speak for many of them in the Disability community no matter what the situation entails including telling the world how they should be identified as. Many of these students in the Disability community are never given real choices because many people do not want them to be educated in school and earn a decent wage that can allow them to have independence too. Their education is pushed away from them while they are pushed to agency businesses to take care of them for the rest of their lives. Yes, many of us in the Disability community do need supports, and sometimes agencies help with these supports, but the supports should be given to us as an accommodation to live a self-determined life. We live in an Interdependent world, none of us are totally independent.

There are some people, but not many who’ve been considered lucky to not let this happen to them. However, luck was more of a determination to advocate for ourselves including some non-verbal self-advocates who fought for their rights for supports and independence. Many reached out and others continue to reach out to advocate against a system that society really pushes many Autistic and other Disabled people into: not having their own voice and identities. It’s important to always educate, teach self-advocacy, teach social skills, and teach that it’s okay to identify ourselves the way any one wants to throughout school and adulthood. Most importantly, it’s important to teach social skills in elementary school as well as teaching sexuality and gender identities to everyone no matter if the student is disabled or not. Society is so afraid of teaching any one who is not the so-called normal person in society.

We are all gifted, we can all live our life the way we want and need to, and we can all learn to be responsible self-determined adults with the supports we need along the way. Society needs to accommodate the Disability community with the many sensory and physical things that we need to be accommodated for so that we can live our life like any other person can. In the professional world, Social Workers read in their code of ethics about self-determination all the time, but many Social Workers do not practice this code of ethics unless it is to get a Autistic/Disabled person to obtain their benefits from society as a whole. Benefits are good and are needed for us including myself, but self-determination must always be preserved too. There needs to be balance between the benefits the Disability community receives or will receive, and self-determination.

When society sees a person like myself advocating for myself and working toward my goals of self-determination, they only want to create a token so that this person will speak like Non-Disabled people yet will still be considered Disabled by society. If society wants to really listen to the Disability community, they will need to allow us to speak our minds the way we feel and want to represent ourselves with our identities. It is unfair for the Disability community and most importantly it is an unfair education system for the many people who have been and are in the elementary and secondary school systems. It’s probably why bullying persists in our schools. Society needs to change. Society needs to create an education system where everyone has a chance to live a decent life and learn the responsibilities to live our lives eventually with wages that aren’t sub-minimum.

Don’t wait until they become adults because then it may already be too late! Please do all you can to educate everyone no matter who they are. We need to make the United States better than it is right now. For those educators who have begun this already, I say thank you to you, but help me create any teacher in every school to maintain any student to live their adult life with supports and self-determination.

A few people have tried to make me a token in the past, but it’s important to fight for our own voice to be heard not to be a token. I teach self-advocacy at a part time job, and will continue to teach these basic self-advocacy skills so everyone eventually will know their voice, their own opinions, and their own identities which will always be cherished.

Thank you for reading and hope everyone understands what I say!


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