Having the freedom to choose for myself!
When you have a condition that makes you vulnerable its only natural that your loved ones will want to protect you but if you agree that we all have the right to as much independence as we are able to have. Its important that we allow our vulnerable loved ones to make their own choices even when we can see they aren’t ideal. This can be hard to accept at times because our love and care can get in the way of someone living a fully independent life.
Over the past several years, there has been a huge change in the way people view disability rights and a move towards increased self-advocacy: meaning people with disabilities must be at the table making their own decisions and not having someone else making them on their behalf. This shift in perception has been reflected in western culture and it’s been a pleasure to see people grasp the concept of equality for all and freedom of choice to shape ones own life.
My autism effects me in a way where I need daily support but that doesn’t mean I don’t love doing things for myself. Just because I have an altered concept of time and need assistance with daily activities doesn’t mean I don’t want my own independence. At times I see other guys my age doing everyday things that I would also like to do for myself. Loved ones can sometimes get upset when they think about how frustrating it must be to want to live like everyone else but because of a disability we are restricted but this is where working together to build an environment where I can feel as independent as possible is so very important for me. This was especially relevant when I became an adult. I longed to do many of the things 18 year old boys wanted to do. Simple things like drink a pint. My family don’t want me drinking beer all day but they knew it was important for me to exercise my freedom to choose things for myself. So for a while I would have one or two pints a week in the local pub. Now I’m much likely to have coke but the important point is that its up to me. I have the freedom, just like any other adult to choose for myself.
Imagine having someone tell you you can’t make choices for yourself because its for your own safety. You would be pretty annoyed right. Some people may say, ‘but its for your own protection and I don’t need protection like you do.” I would say, who makes the decision as to who needs protecting from their own choices? I have autism so Im a danger to myself am I? Well what about you? Everyone at some point has been a danger to themselves I am sure. Just because I’m disabled doesn’t mean I should be allowed to take a risk or find out that a choice I made wasn’t the best. This is all part of growing. Our experiences shape us and become a part of who we are. Good, bad, life changing, almost forgettable but whats important is that we are free to follow our own paths. It may sound crazy but I want to learn from my mistakes just like you and sometimes I want to learn the hard way just like anyone else. I also want to feel like I am in charge of my own life and even though I’m aware that there will always be some things I will always struggle to do on my own that doesn’t mean that It couldn’t change with an advancement in technology or with a shift of opinion in society. The key is to always be open minded and ask yourself, what freedoms do you have to live a fully independent life?
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