Taylor Ulch: A Chick on the Spectrum
April 5th, 2018 is World
Autism Awareness Day
Here’s what a chick
on the spectrum wants you to know:
What Does Autism Look Like?
The truth is, you
can’t tell that someone is autistic by looking at them. Unless you’re a
clinical psychologist who specializes in spectrum disorders, its also pretty
unlikely that you would guess after spending an hour with them.
Autism has always
existed, it just wasn’t recognized until the early 20th century. Also no,
autism is not caused by vaccines, food dyes, witchcraft, or any other weird
thing you’ve heard.
Its important to
remember that autistic children become autistic adults. Autism is stereotyped
as being a children’s disability, and resources are often tailored exclusively
to autistic children and/or their families, completely ignoring autistic
Women and girls
are more likely to go undiagnosed or to be misdiagnosed. Females are often
diagnosed with ADHD, Depression, Anxiety, or Bipolar Disorder before finding
their correct diagnosis of ASD. Women are also much more likely to be diagnosed
Functioning Labels vs. Support
Terms like “low
functioning” or “high functioning” are generally considered to be outdated and
. They are no longer diagnostically relevant and they
are often used to deny autistics resources/self-agency.
Autism is a wide
spectrum, and areas in which an individual may need extra assistance vary. The
level of need is also fluid, depending on stress levels, mood, and other factors.
prefer to use “Support Levels” to convey which areas they may need assistance
and to what degree. For example, most days I need low support in managing my
routine, but need medium support with medication reminders and high support
with meal preparation.
Levels empowers me to ask for help where I need it, without the weighted stigma
of a catch-all functioning label. Its also more appropriate for use by anyone
with a chronic illness or disability.
Nothing About Us, Without Us!
#RedInstead is a
movement started by autistics as an alternative to the Light It Up Blue
Campaign run by Autism Speaks.
Autism Speaks’ advertising
depends on offensive and outdated rhetoric of fear and pity, presenting
the lives of autistic people as tragic burdens
on our families and society. In its advertising, Autism Speaks has compared
being autistic to being kidnapped
dying of a natural
, having a fatal disease, and countless other inappropriate
Only 4% of funds
donated to Autism Speaks are reinvested in services and supports for autistic
people and our families. Only 1% of Autism Speaks’ research budget goes towards
research on service quality and less than one-quarter of 1% goes towards
research on the needs of autistic adults.
Not a single
member of Autism Speaks leadership is on the Spectrum, and they have actively
rejected qualified autistic candidates.
Autism Appreciation Month
In April and year-round, you can help spread awareness
Support autistic voices and autistic lead
organizations, such as the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, and Autism Women’s
Do not use the slur r*tard/r*tarded, or use
Asperger's/autism as a joke or personality trait.
Please be patient with autistic people if we’re having
trouble understanding what you mean or having difficulty accomplishing certain
tasks. We’re trying our best!
Ask an autistic you know about their special interest!
Remember that fidget spinners are other stim objects
are not toys,
Believe autistics when they tell you that many of
their autistic traits have a positive impact on their life. Many of us don’t
want to be ‘cured’.
We only want
to be accepted for who we are as individuals, just like everyone else.
Taylor Ulch is a 2017 Community Leadership Academy Alumnus. O
riginally from Minot, she is continuing her work as an advocate from her new home in Kaiserslautern, Germany.