My friends, Amy Nelson and her husband Gareth, are the founders of Aspies For Freedom
, a website forum for people on the Autism Spectrum in which I am a member of. Her and husband are very unique and interesting people to talk to. They have different ways of thinking, a more positive way of thinking about the Autism Spectrum which is why Amy and Gareth created Autistic Pride Day, a day for any one on the Autism Spectrum to get to celebrate the strengths and unique intricacies about being on the Autism Spectrum. While chatting with Amy on Facebook, I asked her questions about Autistic Pride Day.
This is the Q and A with Amy Nelson:
When were you diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum (Aspergers, …)?
I was diagnosed in 1997.
How did you form aspiesforfreedom.com? When did you form the site?
Gareth and I formed the site in 2004, with 2 other aspies we know called Wolfy and Shadow. We wanted to create something proactive and positive, that wasn’t patronising, which many groups were at the time.
What was the idea for Autistic Pride Day on June 18?
The idea for APD was to counter the many negative autism cure events and dates that were happening at the time. We wanted to make something truly positive.
Why ask others to celebrate Autistic Pride?
We want people to enjoy the day any way they choose, including celebrate if they wish.
How can others feel more positive about who they are to celebrate pride in themselves?
It’s a kind of positive self-fulfilling prophecy. I think it’s wonderful that so many people are organizing and celebrating, and that alone makes me feel so happy, to be united with other autistics all around the world.
What is your biggest strength in your life that helps you through each day?
My biggest strength is my strength! Luckily I am very strong, and just keep plodding on through adversity.
Who is/are your hero(s) in your life? What do they do to help you?
I can’t think of a hero that is alive at the moment. But a wonderful inspiration to Gareth and I was our friend, Patty. Sadly she passed away in 2005. She was an amazingly intelligent autistic woman, a great friend and help to us. She is dearly missed.
What is your special interest? What do you like to do?
My main special interest is collecting dolls. I drive everyone crazy going on about them lol.
What positive features do you like about being on the Autism Spectrum?
I am really glad that I can be honest, not be swayed from honesty by trying to impress people and being worried about public appearances, vanity, etc.
How do you use these positive features to move forward in your life?
Hard question, not sure right now.
How do you want to help out other people on the Autism Spectrum?
The main thing I would love to do is to help autistics who are homeless or displaced in temporary accommodation. Having the security of a home is absolutely essential, but housing problems often arise as an issue for autistics at various points in their lives. Homelessness is terrible for anyone, but more so for autistics I feel. Facing the stress of communicating with strangers, moving treasured possessions, having uncertainty, etc. I would much prefer all the money being wasted on researching an impossible and phony cure would be better spent on helping adult autistics, and autistic families who are homeless.
What is success mean to you? Do you believe we can all succeed?
Success is a very personal perception. I can only speak for myself, I take one day at a time otherwise life can be too stressful. Small successes day by day add up to a lot.
How can other people (NT’s) understand people on the Autism Spectrum better?
I wish I knew a definitive answer. The best we can hope for is education, education, education.
Is it possible we can all live harmoniously?
Absolutely. However, world peace is a huge goal that we may never achieve.
Do you think people can really understand that there is no real “normal”?
Not until they experience it. Education, experience, honesty, if someone like Stephen Spielberg came out and admitted he was on the spectrum it would immediately improve millions of our lives. People who have that ability have a duty to act, in my opinion.
What do you look forward to in the future?
Tomorrow and APD!
Autistic Pride Day 2011 starts today June 18 and like any other Autistic Pride Day beforehand, we need to feel energized to fulfill our unique perspectives, intricacies, and build our self esteem to feel just as proud as any Neurotypical feels. It does not matter who you are and what you like, you really are who you AUT to be!!
More posts coming for Autistic Pride Day June 18 as well as The Second Annual Autistic Artistic Carnival!!