Manifesto! #AutismPositivity2014

By Elizabeth Vosseller

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Growing Kids Therapy is proud to participate in the third annual Autism Positivity Flash Blog! The purpose of the flash blog is to end Autism Acceptance month with a bang, sharing messages that rail against negativity and stigma of autism. This year’s theme is “Expressions of PosAutivity” ~ celebrating diverse ways of expressing ideas and flexible communicating. Hellllooo! Rapid Prompting Method (RPM) is all about flexible communication. For non or limited speaking people with autism who lack the motor control to communicate via speech, RPM allows them to point to letters on a letter board to spell their message.

A RPM session takes place around a cognitive lesson where clients learn new information, answer questions and, as their skills on the letter board permit, communicate their opinions and reactions to the ideas we have discussed. Whenever I plan a lesson, I try to choose a topic that will be interesting to my clients and that will stimulate some thoughtful creative writing. Because RPM presumes competence, we do not repeat lessons with the same client! However, I often use the same lesson with different clients because it is interesting to see where clients respond similarly or differently. Lessons often take on a life of their own, going in directions I did not expect. This lesson on Humanism led to some powerful creative writing from my clients. Here is the complete lesson. The answers to questions within in the lesson were provided by Ian, a 15 year old, nonspeaking client with autism, who moved to Seattle, Washington but recently spent his Spring Break with me in Northern Virginia for his first time exposure to RPM via an intensive RPM boot camp (oh yes, much more about Ian and that incredible experience in a blog coming your way soon!). I am also featuring some of the creative writing responses of other clients you have already met. These “voices” resonate with PosAutivity!

*The lesson (which is presented verbally to the client) is in regular font, my comments or spontaneous questions are in italics and the clients’ responses via the letter board are in all caps.

HUMANISM

Humanism refers to any philosophical, moral, political, artistic or scientific system with a human, not religious, frame of reference. In humanism, some believe that the ideals of human existence can be fulfilled without regard to religion. The Humanist Manifesto of 1933 took the position that the universe was “self-created;” that mankind was a part of nature. A manifesto is a written or verbal declaration of intentions, motives or views of the author.

Name two systems to which humanism refers. ART AND SCIENCE

What did the humanists believe?  BELIEVES SCIENCE NOT GOD DEFINES MAN

Why would a manifesto be helpful to talk about a controversial topic? ALLOWS A TOPIC TO BE CLEARLY DEFINED

Renaissance humanism refers to a revival of classical literature and philosophy that began at the end of the Middle Ages, or middle of the 14th century. Renaissance humanism features several important intellectual figures, including Nicolaus Copernicus and Leonardo daVinci. Nicolaus Copernicus was a mathematician, economist and astronomer who declared that the earth orbited around the sun. Though Copernicus wrote “On the Revolutions of the Celestial Sphere” several decades earlier, it was not published until his death in 1543 as his theory was in direct conflict with teachings of the Catholic Church.  Leonardo daVinci worked as an artist, musician, architect, inventor, engineer, anatomist and geometer. In his drawing Vitruvian Man, daVinci superimposed two views of a nude man in a circle to illustrate mathematical proportions of the human body as described by Roman architect Vitruvius. Vitruvian Man was said to reconcile the main two parts of our being; the physical and the intellectual.

What period of time does the 14th century refer to? 1500s (Ian used the number board to respond to this question)

Tell me one thing you learned about Copernicus.  HE HAD TROUBLE WITH THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

What was one of Leonardo daVinici’s occupations? PAINTER…..what is his famous painting?…MONA LISA (*Note that I had referred to daVinci as an artist. I did not mention that he painted nor did I mention that the Mona Lisa! This is simply knowledge that Ian has acquired over his life time of listening.) 

What was significant about the Vitruvian Man?  BLENDED BODY AND MIND

I showed Ian the picture of the Vitruvian man and asked, “what impresses you about this picture?”….SYMMETRY OF THE BODY

The difference between humanist and religious theories are their understanding of what constitutes truth. The humanist regards truth as something constantly evolving. Religious theory identifies a static, unchanging revelation from God as truth. A humanist is generally skeptical and open minded. Religious theorists are often unwavering and live according to theological dogma. Dogma is a principle or set of principles provided by any authority as incontrovertibly true.

What is a difference between humanism and religious theorists? HUMANISTS DEFINE TRUTH VIA SCIENCE, RELIGIONISTS DEFINE TRUTH VIA GOD

Now that we have talked about both sides of the spectrum – where do you fall in terms of humanism and religious theory? I CAN SEE MERIT IN BOTH SIDES

Creative Writing: A basic difference between humanism and religious theories is weather something can change or evolve over time. In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue to prove that the world was not flat. In 1543, Copernicus declared that the earth revolved around the sun; the planets did not revolve around our round world.  Each declaration required education, hypotheses, experiment and declaration to be introduced to an apprehensive audience. Define a topic that you know a lot about. Do you have a hypothesis or “new take” on that topic? Given the chance, how would you research or experiment to determine if your hypothesis is correct? In the event that your experiment yields proof of a breakthrough or new perspective, can you think of an audience that would be apprehensive about your findings?

IAN

I BELIEVE THAT PEOPLE WITH AUTISM ARE ACTUALLY VERY SMART.  I WOULD PROVE THIS BY ALLOWING AUTISTICS IN THE REGULAR CLASSROOM.  I WOULD LET THEM JUST SIT THERE AND LEARN.  PEOPLE WOULD BE SHOCKED BY HOW MUCH THEY ALREADY KNOW.  I WOULD EXPECT TO UPSET THE WHOLE AUTISM COMMUNITY AND THE EDUCATION COMMUNITY WOULD FREAK OUT.  I WOULD NOT BE DETERRED BY THEIR LACK OF ACCEPTANCE. Ok, Ian, now you need to create a manifesto to go along with your findings.  Be sure to name your manifesto!  EDUCATION FOR AUTISTICS. AUTISTICS ARE SMART. AUTISTICS DESERVE CHALLENGING EDUCATION. AUTISTICS FEEL EVERYTHING.

BEN

MY TOPIC IS AUTISM  HYPOTHESIS IS THAT PEOPLE WHO CANNOT TALK ARE JUST AS SMART AS PEOPLE WHO CAN SPEAK. I WOULD LIKE TO CHALLENGE THE CONVENTIONAL THINKING THAT NON SPEAKING PEOPLE ARE COGNITIVELY IMPAIRED. I EXPECT TO FACE TREMENDOUS DOUBT FROM THE SPECIALISTS IN THE FIELD OF AUTISM AND EDUCATION. I WOULD NOT LET THEIR DOUBTS STOP ME FROM ADVOCATING FOR MYSELF AND OTHERS. I WOULD STUDY THIS BY HAVING AUTISTIC PEOPLE WHO TALK ON THE LETTER BOARD TAKE AN INTELLIGENCE TEST SO THEIR IQ CAN BE COMPARED TO THOSE WITHOUT AUTISM. ~Ben

HUAN

I BELIEVE IN EDUCATION THAT CHALLENGES STUDENTS ACCORDING TO THEIR ABILITIES NOT BY THEIR ABIITY TO TALK. ~ Huan

PAUL

I THINK AUTISTIC PEOPLE HAVE CHANGED WHEN THEY LEARN TO COMMUNICATE ON LETTER BOARD.  THEY FACE NEW CHALLENGES.  FIRST THEY NEED TO REDEFINE WHO THEY ARE IN SOCIETY. SECOND THEY NEED TO INSTIGATE A REVOLUTION IN THE EDUCATION COMMUNITY. FINALLY THEY MUST GET THE WORD OUT. STOP TREATING PEOPLE WITH AUTISM LIKE THEY ARE STUPID.

MY MANIFESTO IS CALLED POWER TO AUTISM. STOP UNDERESTIMATING NONSPEAKING PEOPLE WITH AUTISM. EDUCATE GOING ON INTELLECT NOT ON SPEAKING ABILITY. QUESTION CONVENTIONAL THINKING ABOUT AUTISM.  ~Paul

EMMA

EMMA’S MANIFESTO. I BELIEVE IN RESPECT FOR ALL PEOPLE.  PEOPLE MUST BE NICER TO EACH OTHER.  BEAUTY IS EVERYWHERE IF YOU LOOK FOR IT. ~Emma

 

My clients teach, motivate, and delight me every day. These Expressions of PosAutivity are a celebration in flexible communication, tearing apart stereotypes and pushing aside negativity! My clients and the RPM community has inspired my manifesto ~ Presume Competence! We have work to do, join us! ~ Elizabeth

Original post at: http://wp.me/p1RXHx-gX

3 Comments

Filed under Autism Positivity 2014, Autism Positivity Flash Blog, Expressions of PosAutivity, Flash Blog Posts

3 responses to “Manifesto! #AutismPositivity2014

  1. Thank you Leah for your endless hours to make this come together! I have had a great time reading everyone’s blogs! What a fabulous celebration! I am so pleased to be a part of such a joyous movement! My nonspeaking clients have volumes to say ~ Thanks for helping their voices get heard!

    • Thank you for your kind words…

      I do need to let you know that there is a team of us who worked together to make this WONDERFUL Autism Positivity Day a thing!! There is so much going on behind the scenes with signal boosting and pinterest and fb and twitter and tumblr and encouraging submissions and planning doing graphics and… well… the list is long.

      The thing that makes it such a huge HUGE job is that we have so many people participating!

      And that is made of win!

      So the past few days have been a deliriously long – but what an amazing, and uplifting response from a community of people committed to ending stigma and embracing our Autistic friends, families, and selves with love and acceptance.

      This is how change happens!

      We are making a difference!

      Thank you for participating ♥

  2. Thank you for sharing this work and joining the “Expressions of PosAutivity” discussion Elizabeth!

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