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Autistic Self Advocacy in Hounslow

A guide for building a supportive and inclusive community


Introduction

Autistic people face many challenges and barriers in society, such as stigma, discrimination, lack of access to services, and isolation. These factors can affect their well-being, self-esteem, and autonomy. However, autistic people also have unique strengths, skills, and perspectives that can enrich their lives and communities. One way to empower autistic people and promote their rights and dignity is through self-advocacy.

Self-advocacy is the ability to speak up for oneself and one's needs, preferences, and interests. It also involves making informed decisions, expressing opinions, and taking action to achieve one's goals. Self-advocacy can help autistic people to gain confidence, independence, and respect. It can also help them to access the support and resources they need, and to participate in social, educational, and professional opportunities.

This document aims to provide some guidance and suggestions for working towards autistic people in Hounslow to be developing as self-advocates. Working together as a community, we can build on individual strengths and support each other in living as full and equal citizens.

Why is self-advocacy important for autistic people?

Self-advocacy is important for autistic people because it can help them to:

  • Understand themselves better, including their strengths, challenges, needs, and preferences.

  • Communicate effectively with others, such as family, friends, professionals, and service providers.

  • Assert their rights and responsibilities, such as privacy, consent, access, and inclusion.

  • Make choices and decisions that reflect their values and goals.

  • Seek and receive the support and accommodations they need, such as adjustments, adaptations, and assistive technology.

  • Challenge and overcome the barriers and discrimination they face, such as stigma, stereotypes, and exclusion.

  • Learn new skills and knowledge that can enhance their personal and professional development.

  • Explore and pursue their interests and passions, such as hobbies, education, and career.

  • Connect and collaborate with others who share their experiences and perspectives, such as peers, mentors, and allies.

  • Contribute to their communities and society, such as through volunteering, activism, and leadership.

How can we support autistic people to develop as self-advocates?

Supporting autistic people to develop as self-advocates is a collaborative and ongoing process that requires respect, trust, and empowerment. Here are some ways that we can support autistic people to develop as self-advocates:

  • Listen to and value their voices, opinions, and feedback. Respect their communication styles and preferences and provide them with accessible and clear information.

  • Recognise and celebrate their diversity, individuality, and identity. Acknowledge their strengths, skills, and achievements, and encourage their self-expression and creativity.

  • Involve them in decisions and choices that affect them. Provide them with options and alternatives and respect their autonomy and consent.

  • Provide them with the support and resources they need and want. Ask them what they need and how they want to be supported and follow their lead. Provide them with reasonable adjustments and accommodations and respect their boundaries and limits.

  • Empower them to act and achieve their goals. Help them to identify and pursue their interests and passions and provide them with opportunities and guidance. Support them to overcome challenges and learn from mistakes and celebrate their successes and progress.

  • Connect them with other autistic people and allies. Help them to find and join groups, networks, and organisations that share their values and vision. Encourage them to seek and offer peer support, mentoring, and friendship.

  • Advocate with and for them. Help them to understand and assert their rights and responsibilities, and to challenge and change the systems and structures that oppress and exclude them. Stand with them and amplify their voices and respect their leadership and agency.

Conclusion

Autistic people have the potential and the right to be self-advocates, and to live as full and equal citizens in society. By working together as a community, we can support autistic people to develop as self-advocates, and to build on their individual strengths and collective power. We can also learn from and with autistic people and create a more supportive and inclusive community for everyone.

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