Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The First Seeds of Self-Advocacy

Self-advocacy has a long way back in history. The first known traces of these meetings go back to the year 1968.

When it comes to helping people with disabilities, activists have sometimes been guilty of overlooking the opinions and requests of the very same community they’re trying to advocate for. This is not new. Some people believe that individuals with certain conditions are incapable of speaking their minds or understanding their circumstances well enough to articulate their needs. More often than not, this is far from true. Disregarding or underestimating their insights can cause a rupture between what advocates think it’s best for them and what actually is the best for them. That’s how self-advocacy was born.

Self-advocacy is a social movement that was born in Sweden during the 1960s. The story of how it came to be is very telling. After an organization for children with intellectual disabilities formed by parents adopted “We speak for them" as their motto, disabled people at the meetings decided they wanted to speak for themselves and started to voice changes they wanted to apply on the organization. National conferences were held all across the nation, and participants made statements addressing how they wanted to be treated by society.

We are people first
It’s no surprise then that the movement had a lot of success and spread to Great Britain, the United States, and Canada. In America, one self-advocate declared very eloquently during a conference in Oregon in 1974: “I’m tired of being called retarded - we are people first.” And so the "People First" self-advocacy movement began and became an international organization formed by people with intellectual disabilities.

To become a self-advocate, you have to be a member of the group the advocacy is for. For example, self-advocacy for autism is done by autistic individuals. It can go from communicating preferences and choices to family and caretakers, to speaking in conferences and creating projects to gather other self-advocates with the goal of defending and improving community’s  rights, conditions and lifestyle, going as far as testifying in the Senate or carrying a political career.

This is a philosophy that most of these organizations have chosen. They’ve been investing their efforts in a rights-based approach to disability policies, urging society to become more inclusive and accept them. Not only in secluded meetings and places thought for them, but in public spaces shared with everyone else. This is especially important because while advocates might be more concerned about safety, self-advocates want as much autonomy as they can get to live their lives on their own terms and be happy. Because of that, many good things have come from self-advocacy, like the concept of “supported decision making,” which allows individuals to choose a supporter to provide decision-making assistance without having to depend on him or her completely.

If you’re part of any of these groups, don’t be afraid to speak up your mind. There are many myths and misconceptions surrounding mental health and physical disabilities, and there is no one better than the ones living with these conditions to talk about them and provide a window for the world to understand their reality. Advocates will always be invited to participate in these causes, but it’s crucial that self-advocates’ voices are heard and taken seriously. At Autism Soccer, we want to accompany our children every step of the way, providing our help and love when they need it and let them discover the world on their own. Contact us and join us today!

Self-advocacy movements now focus on raising the voices of the unheard. It's a fight for those who are ignored, with human rights that are not fitting for them.

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Tokenism: What Is It?

Tokenism is often seen as a common way to include minorities in social environments, but it is wrongly developed and causes people to feel left out and insulted.

“He who sells you the token instead of the coin always retains the power to revoke its worth, and to command you to get off the bus before you have reached your destination.” This is the way Martin Luther King Jr. described tokenism in his 1963 book called Why We Can’t Wait. It virtually signals everything that’s wrong with these early attempts to create a more inclusive society. Even if the intentions are good, a poor execution will never be enough until the promise that tokenism makes is truly paid.

But what tokenism exactly is? It’s basically the practice of including a few symbolic members from underrepresented groups and grant them places in the workforce, the media or any other kind of activity, with the purpose of avoiding accusations of social discrimination. And what’s the promise? That this mandatory inclusion will someday lead to a more a democratic and inclusive society.

Because minorities have always struggled to gain visibility, this practice emerged as a way to give them a voice, although artificial.  Even though sometimes it can seem like a good place to start, tokenism carries a risk of becoming an ineffective solution. How many times have you seen actors that seem to just be in a movie's cast because they’re part of a minority group? This usually leads to stereotypical representations that, more often than not, help to perpetuate wrong ideas about these groups. Malcolm X put it like this when talking about racial discrimination: “What gains? All you have gotten is tokenism — one or two Negroes in a job, or at a lunch counter, so the rest of you will be quiet.”

What about children?
Children with autism and other psychological conditions also suffer from its patronizing consequences. We shouldn’t involve children with special needs in certain activities just because we need to fill a quota, but because we value their insight and we want to learn about who they are as individuals. We should always give them a real voice.

In a paper published by Unicef, tokenism was used to describe those instances in which children are apparently given a voice, but in fact have little or no choice about the subject or the style of communicating it, and little or no opportunity to formulate their own opinions. How can we create true solutions to their problems and needs if we’re not ready to listen to what they have to say? We don’t necessarily know what’s best for them and there’s no point in trying to advocate for a cause if you do not include, truly, those who you are fighting for.

How to avoid bad tokenism
Stop focusing so much on which minority group people belong to, and start treating everyone as individuals. Value their opinions individually and try to understand that everyone’s circumstances are not the same. Don’t underestimate children’s abilities and virtues, nor ignore their interests. If you want to include them in a panel or a project, make sure to let them know why they’re there and give them an opportunity to voice their opinions.

Positive discrimination can have many benefits, but what’s truly important at the end of the day is that individuals are valued for who they are, not for the condition they suffer, nor for their race or gender. We want our children to feel loved, represented and we want them not to be afraid to speak up whenever they desire! At Autism Soccer we believe in the potential of each of our kids and want to see them happy and confident. Contact us to learn more about our projects and activities. Join us today!

If you notice someone is being treated with hipocrisy or falsely, stop them in the act.

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Friday, November 24, 2017

Famous Actors with Autism You Didn’t Know about

Actors deal with autism too and represent this condition on the big and small screen for those at home.

When we think about Hollywood celebrities, we rarely wonder about what’s going on in their minds. Actors might seem pure extroverts that enjoy all the attention and fame, but that’s not always the case. Even though it might seem like the life on the spotlight and an acting career would be the last choice for people on the autism spectrum, some actors have gone out of their ways to talk about their diagnosis and how autism has impacted their careers and lives.

When we talk about famous individuals, autistic actors are a rare sight. You’re more likely to find musicians and scientists on this field. But one thing’s true: autism didn’t stop them from taking a chance and work hard to star in some of the most remembered films and TV series of all time. It wasn’t easy, sure, but they kept going and took control over their futures. Here are three actors that live with diagnosed autism and you had no idea about it!

Daryl Hannah
Eighties iconic actress, Daryl Hannah, made her first appearance in 1978’s film The Fury, and then went on to participate in productions such as Blade Runner, Wall Street, Splash and Kill Bill: Volume 1. She’s worked alongside directors like Ron Howard, Quentin Tarantino, and Oliver Stone and co-starred with Hollywood stars like Tom Hanks, Harrison Ford, and Michael Douglas. But one thing she’s spent most of her life in private is her battle with Asperger’s Syndrome.

She opened up about it publicly in 2013. “I was a little odd and incredibly introverted and withdrawn when I was young,” said Hannah about her childhood. She suffered bullying and has explained in interviews that doctors recommended having her medicated and institutionalized. Fortunately, her mother disagreed, and she was able to find in acting a vehicle for her vivid imagination.

“It’s confronting and always has been. But it’s the way I am; the way I have always been. I’m still not great in crowds. I’m fine one on one, but in larger groups, I lose my sense of self. Big events are always uncomfortable for me, and I don’t know if I will ever grow out of it. I try to keep those feelings under control, but it takes a lot of focus and concentration, and energy. It’s not always easy.” Dannah described in an interview with The Weekly. She now lives a calmer life as an environmentalist activist and has worked in the popular TV series Sense8.

Dan Aykroyd
You probably remember comedian, actor, and producer Dan Aykroyd for his works on Saturday Night Live, Ghostbusters and The Blues Brothers. The 65-year-old actor has been diagnosed with Tourette's since he was 12 and Asperger’s Syndrome since the eighties. Curiously, Ghostbusters came to be thanks to his condition.

“One of my symptoms included my obsession with ghosts and law enforcement — I carry around a police badge with me, for example. I became obsessed by Hans Holzer, the greatest ghost hunter ever. That’s when the idea of my film Ghostbusters was born.” He told in an interview with Daily Mail. That’s for anyone who says that individuals on the autism spectrum can’t be creative!

Matthew Labyorteaux
Although Labyorteaux has never been a huge celebrity, people remember him fondly for his work in 1977’s House on the Prairie. He’s also notable for his roles as a voice actor in films like Mulan. The truth is Matthew didn’t walk until the age of 3 and didn’t talk until he was 5. According to his mother, doctors held little hope that he could ever live a normal life.

About his childhood, his mother remembers: “He slept standing up in his crib, and when anyone would try to pick him up he would scream and try to get away. I spent months on the floor with Matthew screaming and me holding him down telling him that no matter what he did I would love him." He then picked an interest in acting and went on to live a pretty normal life.

As you can see, for these artists, acting became a way to cope and overcome the difficulties that living with autism can bring into our lives. Acting can be a good vehicle to channel anxiety and strong emotions! At Autism Soccer, our goal is to provide exercises and techniques to strengthen our kids’ mental health and help them live a happier life!
The arts are not exempt from this unique condition, and within it, many artists thrive.

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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Five Jobs Autistic Individuals Are Perfectly Suited for

This condition is not considered a hindrance but an asset in these jobs!

More often than not, people that live on the autism spectrum might feel like there isn’t a place for them in the world. When everyone else is looking for career opportunities and college applications, it’s pretty normal that they feel lost or overwhelmed. Where do they belong? But being born this way doesn’t mean that they can’t find success or feel fulfilled in life. After all, it doesn’t really matter who we are, we all have to do the same if we want to understand where we are heading: we have to look into ourselves to find our strengths and use them in our favor.

It’s no different for autistic individuals. While it’s true that finding a stable job is harder, that’s changing every day. As we continue to raise awareness and destroy myths surrounding autism, we’re becoming a more inclusive society ready to value all the talents and potential that autistic adults can offer to the world! If you’re a parent, help your child explore their abilities and find out what they like from an early age, so there’s nothing that can’t stop them in the future.

Professor Grandin, from Colorado State University, explains that both high and low functioning autistic individuals have poor short-term working memory. This means that jobs that involve retaining important information for a short period of time might result very stressing for them. That way, jobs as a cashier, waiter/waitress, market trader, receptionist or ticket agent might not be a very good idea, as so many tasks would need to be handled at the same time and they would involve high levels of social interaction.

However, autistic adults do show a good performance in long-term memory, which opens a window for a whole other set of career paths. Grandin actually divides career opportunities based on three main areas: occupational choices for visual thinkers, non-visual thinkers and non-verbal people. With that in mind, here are five of the jobs that could go perfectly with autistic individuals!

Computer programming and software
Jobs involving technical knowledge on computers are perfect for both visual and non-visual people who are good at math and managing data. Programming has a lot to do with coding and working with algorithms, both of which require good logic abilities. By choosing a path on computer science, individuals can choose between working as a freelancer or with technology companies. It can even be self-taught, and it will satisfy the curiosity and intellect of people living on the autism spectrum.

Animal trainer or veterinary technician
It’s no surprise that autistic children find great comfort in the company of animals. This probably won’t change when they get older, so working with animals can alleviate stress and help them to stay calm. Possible occupation choices include pet groomer, dog trainer, veterinary technician, pet sitter, livestock caretaker on a farm or even an actual veterinarian. For people with poor verbal skills, this career path brings the benefit of not having to interact with too many people, only a lot of animals!

Journalism and Research
They say true objectiveness is one of the hardest, if not impossible, things to acquire in journalism. Autistic people’s pragmatic and methodical worldview is actually ideal for facts and news analysis. This is a great choice for non-visual thinkers and can also be done as a freelance. Thorough attention to detail may also make several types of research careers a good choice, such as statistician and textbook writer.

Drafter or Manufacturer
A great choice for visual thinkers. Drafters work doing engineering drawings, detailed technical drawings or plans for machinery, buildings, electronics, infrastructure, sections, among others. Then they can move up to become designing specialists. On the other hand, jobs in manufacturing are perfect for people who enjoy repetitive movements and an ordered environment.

Scientist or laboratory specialist
Who says your girl or boy can’t make a career in science? It will be highly competitive, but autistic individuals will find the quiet and full-of-knowledge world of science quite appealing. They can work in fields like mathematics, physics, and biology. People with high functioning autism would be comfortable in a work environment that focuses on using their technical skills rather than their conversational skills.

At Autism Soccer, we love to see our kids facing new challenges every day, developing new skills and finding themselves in the process! We’re here to support them in every step of the way so they can go on and have a healthy life full of rewards and happiness, surrounded by people who love them! That’s the real definition of success.

Some skillsets are particularly interesting within the spectrum world. 

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Cults about Autism you Should Evade

People might try to fool you into buying something within these autism cults.

Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 68 children is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This represents a large increase in the number of reported cases, taking into account that in 2002 the same institution estimated that 1 in 150 children was diagnosed with this disorder. This is a big difference, don't you think? These numbers, in addition to pointing out the number of children affected, also indicates a large number of parents concerned about their children's health and future.

Unfortunately, their concerns may not end there, as there are people at a social and criminal level who may want to take advantage of their vulnerability and use the argument of discrimination against people with disabilities to sell magic formulas.  

Avoid the so-called autism cults

Dealing with the autism spectrum disorder is not easy. Each child may represent a different case that tests the emotions, patience, vulnerability and optimism of the parents. The different situations that can occur lead them to seek all possible help and information in order to calm the symptoms and even cure the disorder. At that moment, the so-called autism cults can appear; these are groups or associations that usually propose alternative medicines or treatments to improve and cure the condition of an autistic person.

These cults can propose diets, procedures and even supplements with which they promise to help the patient. The problem? The costs of these miraculous procedures and magic formulas are high, and they have no endorsement from any reputable medical association. In many cases they are not even able to identify whether or not the treatment they offer is appropriate for the patient. They also avoid saying that their formulas may have side effects that treat autism, but make the patient's body sick.

This does not mean that some alternative medicines could not help a child with autism; it means that you should be very wise when choosing complementary treatments. Parents should be very meticulous, they should always investigate thoroughly if any studies support them and if those treatments are really worth it.

Also in these cases parents and family members have to identify those who use manipulation as a technique to seek clients and give credibility to their work. The ableism, a belief that a person without a disability is better and has a better life than those who have any, is often used as an argument and justification for their treatment. Ableism often leads to discrimination, so many scammers use that situation to say that pharmaceuticals and scientists don't want to make a cure for that reason.

This is a problem that people still have to struggle with every day, but it cannot become a valid argument for selling hope and treatments without any kind of endorsement or proof.

The best way to manage your resources to treat autism and give patients a better chance for improvement is to go to real specialists and follow treatments, such as ABBA therapy, that are supported and have many years of experience treating children with autism.

You can also visit Autsim Soccer, an institution that uses sport as a treatment to improve children's social skills, while integrating them into a fun and healthy environment. If you want to know more about them, do not hesitate to follow them through their social networks. You surely will be delighted with this initiative!

These often rely on false claims and prophetical messages to draw in unsuspecting people into their webs.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Spectrum Women: The community

This website focuses on the day to day from autistic and spectrum women.

The world of women is complicated and interesting. While for some it might seem strange to phrase it this way, the reality is that the female brain and the challenges they face on society are huge, at best. This turns out to be one of the harsh realities that women within the spectrum face in the world when they know their condition. And there’s not much information about the spectrum, separated by gender either. But some women have gathered together under the wing of Barb Cook, and created the first ever community for females within the spectrum.

What’s Spectrum Women?

Born out of the desire to face the world with the help of loved ones and valuable information, Spectrum Women grows to be a website devoted to educate and promote association within the females of the spectrum disorder. Barb Cook is the founder of a movement that wants to touch as many lives as possible with the utmost respect and love for the unique characteristics of each women.

Within the pace you can find valuable information for the people within the spectrum and all those that want to get in depth knowledge of the viewpoint for the people with this condition. Spectrum Women focuses on teaching, on reaching out in a different way to the people that have a neurodivergence of any level. This open platform doesn’t limitate their possibilities, and helps them reach and transform their lives into something more positive and above all, inclusive. They offer events, create meeting, gather interviews to relevant figures of the world of autism disorders and and allow writers to create content to reach out to other audiences.

The big world is less daunting when you face it with people that resonate with you. This website helps you connect and know yourself and your endless possibilities in a positive and interactive way. Spectrum Women focused on education, and on creating awareness for one of the most common conditions in the XXI century.

Here at Autism Soccer we believe in the connection, we believe in the power of information, and above all, in the hidden force of information. Contact us to see how you can collaborate with us to take sports to the children that need it the most. Become a guardian, a donator or an enabler of the initiative that will change the world, once children at the time!

Websites like this work to encourage women to be open and confident regardless of their condition.

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