One of the popular catch phrases in my profession is that ‘people are the experts in their own lives’. In the social work profession, we acknowledge that when it comes to talking about experiences, identifying goals and deciding what happens, clients know best. This is also called self-determination.
When it comes to autistic people, this seems to be a really hard concept for people to accept. The mainstream media, many parent support groups, education departments, researchers and professionals who work with autistic people, seem to have a lot of trouble seeing autistic people as the experts in their own lives.
Justifications for research on autistic children, publishing stories about them in the media and subjecting them to many hours of behaviour modification therapies is that they experience ‘challenging behaviours’, have ‘difficulty coping with peers’ and are ‘disruptive’ or ‘violent’. Time is spent trying to improve their eye contact, sit still…
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