Thursday, June 13, 2013
CONSULTATION AND ADVOCACY- RELATIONSHIP BASED APPROACHES TO AUTISM NORTHEAST PA
In my fourteen years of journeying with autistic and developmentally different persons, I have always presumed intellect and known that they possess inherent strengths and passions. I have seen two very divergent attitudes towards autism, one which seeks to eradicate autism and is willing to implement any strategy, even by force and coercion to seek to alter the person to fit into the mainstream. I find this a degrading and inhumane approach but it is often a core attitude present in behavioralist approaches. Wanting to embrace the autistic person, to understand their experience, to support their struggle, and to help them navigate through the mainstream, I developed the Northeastern Pennsylvania Regional Autism Acceptance Project. The Northeastern Pennsylvania Regional Autism Acceptance is unique in that it provides consultation based on a relational and existential approach as well as educational advocacy. The goal is to help the person find meaning, and to be able to forge emotional connections. This is accomplished by respectfully entering the world of the autistic person and helping them gain understanding of the world of others. Though referred to as the Northeast Pennsylvania Regional Autism Acceptance Project, this work has spread beyond Pennsylvania and consultation has been provided both across the nation and abroad. It is my hope that through this Project, people will not only develop greater awareness of autism, but a greater acceptance, a willingness to understand, to see autism as a mode of being rather than a 'disease' and to see autistic persons as persons of value and in need of dignity and respect.