Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The difficulties of self-advocacy

After a long succession of posts about politics and the world, I have finally decided to return to posting about something more personal--the topic of Asperger's Syndrome and autism. In my first post in this blog, I discussed awareness efforts and the ways in which Asperger's Syndrome is misunderstood. Now I plan to discuss the difficulties of actually raising awareness. Last year I decided that the SSU campus was lacking in inclusive groups to provide social support for students with disabilities. DSS only offers academic support, and the Delta Alpha Pi Honor Society is exclusive to those with high GPAs, so I decided I should start a new group to offer more social support, especially since I felt a lack of such support as a freshman despite being part of the MOSAIC program.

Trying to build support for my group idea hasn't been easy and has taken up a lot of time. I attempted to get out the word of my idea to those interested both this year and last by distributing fliers, but that never really worked. Initially the only real support I had was from an LSS specialist and a Psychology professor. One thing I started to do successfully beginning in the Spring 2010 semester was raising awareness through showing the film I am in called The Asperger's Difference and answering questions during screenings and brown bag lunches. I have been doing this ever since, but starting this school year I got the idea to start my own disability support group. I started attempting to find people who were willing to get involved. I didn't find a substantial number of people until a screening in December. I got acquainted with some people who were sympathetic and interested in helping me start, and over the course of this semester I have tried to arrange meetings with those people. I often procrastinated (which can be an issue for me even when I care about something, since it isn't always easy for me to forge ahead) and they were often busy, so it was hard to make things work. However I did have a recent success when one of the people I met at the screening introduced me to several friends who were also sympathetic and interested in getting involved.

One way in which I have tried to attract more people is lay out more specific goals for the group. I came up with one idea after I participated in the Tunnel of Oppression and saw that the disability room was lacking in covering non-physical disabilities. My hope is that if do get this group started, we could contribute to next year's Tunnel of Oppression by adding more information on invisible disabilities.

Trying to pull off something like this takes a lot of effort and there have been ups and downs, but as far as I am concerned, it is worth it. I will continue to keep up my efforts to make SSU a better campus for those with invisible disabilities.

1 comment:

  1. Good work. I'd still like to see this film. And I'd be happy to advise you if you need an advisor for a club to support your activities. Perhaps the STAR may be interested in doing an article on your activist work as well.