AUTISM KEYNOTE RESOURCES

This is by no means an exhaustive list of resources. They are curated for the purposes of accompanying my June 17, 2020 keynote for the Diversity Best Practices EmERGe 2020 conference.

As the autistic experience becomes better understood and as autistics take agency and autonomy of how we are seen, the knowledge base will no doubt shift and become more comprehensive. I have done my best to collect resources that benefit autistic voices. There is, however, no single party line from us. As we are all unique and complex, these resources might not apply to everyone and some autistics might feel not represented. My intent is to make this a working page wherein discussion, mutual understanding, and work-related advocacy can occur. The non-autistic world needs to see who we truly are.

If you would like to contribute to this list, or would like to advise me of incorrect information or updates, please do. This is about collecting what we’ve learned and creating something positive. I am not the voice of autism. I am just one.

Veneranda Aguirre email link or email vene_aguirre@yahoo.com

Lastly, I apologize for the crude state of the site. I will do my best to make the page more navigable with time.

Veneranda Aguirre final

WHAT AUTISM IS AND WHAT IT IS NOT:

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?

Different Brains: ASD can be associated with intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination and attention and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances. Some persons with ASD excel in visual skills, music, math and art.

“Aspie” Quiz

The goal of this test is to check for neurodiverse/neurotypical traits in adults. The neurodiversity classification can be used to give a reliable indication of autism spectrum traits prior to eventual diagnosis.

You can choose to participate in our long-time evaluation of score-changes over time and help us to calibrate the test (you need to login with a valid userid or register a new userid to do this) or go directly to the simplified test.

Talent in autism: hyper-systemizing, hyper-attention to detail and sensory hypersensitivity

“We argue that hyper-systemizingpredisposes individuals to show talent, and review evidence that hyper-systemizing is part of the cognitive style of people with autism spectrum conditions (ASC). We then clarify the hyper-systemizing theory, contrasting it to the weak central coherence (WCC) and executive dysfunction (ED) theories. The ED theory has difficulty explaining the existence of talent in ASC. While both hyper-systemizing and WCC theories postulate excellent attention to detail by itself excellent attention to detail will not produce talent. By contrast, the hyper-systemizing theory argues that the excellent attention to detail is directed towards detecting ‘if p, then q’ rules (or [input–operation–output] reasoning). Such law-based pattern recognition systems can produce talent in systemizable domains. Finally, we argue that the excellent attention to detail in ASC is itself a consequence of sensory hypersensitivity. We review an experiment from our laboratory demonstrating sensory hypersensitivity detection thresholds in vision. We conclude that the origins of the association between autism and talent begin at the sensory level, include excellent attention to detail and end with hyper-systemizing.”

Good Mental Health for Autistic Girls and Women

Dr. Tony Atwood’s video lecture on the emotional intensity experienced by autistic women

New research shows ‘high functioning’ is an inaccurate autism label

“Dr Alvares said the study showed ‘high functioning’ was an inaccurate label that could have detrimental real-world effects.

‘By presuming that they have better functional abilities we’re potentially really denying them access to the supports or the funding that they may be eligible for,’ she said.

Chief executive of Autism Awareness Australia, Nicole Rogerson said it was nice to have the issues with the ‘high functioning’ label confirmed by research, but it was something the community has known for ‘a long time’.”

“Ultimately what we’ve got to stop doing is stop using those labels, and start looking at the individual in front of us,” she said.

WORK RELATED ARTICLES:

Hiring Autistic Workers

CBS Sunday Morning: “Nearly three years ago, when tech giant Microsoft announced that it was starting a pilot program to hire autistic workers, they received more than 700 resumes within a few weeks. German software maker SAP has instituted a program to bring people with autism into its workforce worldwide, and other companies are following suit. By all accounts, giving those on the spectrum an opportunity to use their talents productively has been a tremendous success. Lee Cowan looks at the changing face of workplace diversity.”

Autistics Make Good Social Psychologists:

Gollwitzer and senior author John Bargh analyzed results of an online quiz taken by 6595 respondents from 104 countries. In this quiz, participants attempted to predict how people in general will react in a social situation—what Gollwitzer calls “Social Psychological Skill.” The quiz included questions such as: Do people feel more responsible for their behavior in groups than as individuals? (No) Does catharsis work: If I am angry, will taking out my hostilities on a stuffed doll make me feel better?” (No) On average, do people work harder in groups or as individuals? (As individuals).

Surprisingly, those with ASD traits had slightly better scores on these questions than those without those traits. Gollwitzer said that the general nature of these questions likely allowed ASD individuals to view the situation analytically, without needing to assess emotional or mental states of individuals. This skill may help them compensate for their difficulties in reading others’ mental states in order to function in a social society.

The Dark Side of Autism in the Workplace

“From what I’ve heard in large circles, by and large, autistics don’t want to leave their place of employment but feel forced to leave. Often coping with debilitating anxiety and PTSD, autistic spectrum community members state that it is the repeated incidents of bullying, segregation, misunderstandings, discrimination, and other oppressive workplace practices that they find intolerable.”

Fake It: How We are Failing Autistic Job Seekers and What You Can Do About It

“Some folks on the autism spectrum have been forced through necessity to go into survival mode when interacting socially. They have learned sometimes it’s necessary to wear a mask or act as a chameleon, in order to fit in and avoid ridicule and bullying. In fact, out of the 1000s of autistic I know, most site being the subject of workplace bullying as the number one reason for leaving a job. What is wrong with coaching autistics to act non-autistic through the interview process? Answer: It is another way of telling autistics to don a mask and reject an aspect of self.”

‘It’s Exhausting’: The Hidden Struggle of Working Women with Autism

The result of a woman with autism being told that they are neurotypical (a term used to denote those who are not on the autism spectrum) is troubling, because, as Sommer says, “Women tend to be better at what’s called ‘masking,’ acting like a non-autistic person.” And years spent meticulously observing then mimicking behaviours in order to fit in with neurotypical coworkers can have devastating psychological effects.

“It’s exhausting for people [when] a huge chunk of your cognitive capacity is put towards acting ‘normal,'” Sommer explains. “But if everyone knows you’re autistic, you don’t have to worry about it, you can be yourself and focus on the actual work.”

Open Office: What happens when people who have trouble fitting into a traditional workspace get one designed just for them?

“The challenges of navigating the social complexities of a workplace is one reason unemployment even among college-educated people with autism appears to be disproportionately high. No good national data exist, but various small studies suggest the problem of joblessness is chronic, says Paul Shattuck, a professor of public health at Drexel University who studies autism outcomes. Anxiety, commonly experienced in people with autism, can make typical workplace competition unbearable; one Auticon employee, in a BBC report, compared his experience at his last job to the television show “Survivor.” The interview process alone is a sociability test that many people with autism are destined to fail or inclined to avoid altogether. (Some members of the autism community prefer to be described as “autistic.” Others, including those I interviewed at Auticon, preferred to be described as “on the spectrum” or as “a person with autism.” “Just don’t call me late for dinner,” said one who did not have a preference.)

Major technology businesses like Microsoft and SAP have made significant efforts over the past several years to hire more people with strong cognitive skills who are on the spectrum, recognizing that they represent untapped potential in the job market.”

A Look Inside An Autism-Friendly Workplace And Culture

“Our discussion started with the enormous grassroots activity of the past few years, the expanding corporate autism employment initiatives, and the explosion of autism in popular culture. Our focus, though, became workplace culture. Many in our autism community did get jobs, only to lose them shortly thereafter. So much of current workplace culture makes retention of adults on the autism spectrum an uphill struggle.

“I Would Love to Just Be Myself”: What Autistic Women Want at Work

“It is pertinent that autistic women have job-person and person-environment fit to thrive at work. Workplace policies and procedures influencing attitudinal, structural, and procedural change appear warranted to facilitate inclusion of autistic women in the labor market.”

86% of adults with autism are unemployed. This job fair aims to change that

‘Taccogna is one of hundreds who attended the Spectrum Works Autism Job Fair Monday at Metro Hall in downtown Toronto.<

It’s an annual, multi-city event — running in Toronto, Richmond B.C. and Montreal — aimed at fighting the stigma attached to people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in order to give them the chance to find meaningful work.’

Bottoms-Up: The Innovative Thinking Style of the Asperger’s Mind

“An innovative workplace, with a bottom-up approach doing business, by default, implements an incubator for out of the box thinking.”

The Twice Exceptional Movement: Supporting Bright and Creative Students with Learning Difficulties

“Which children fall within the purview of 2e? Some estimates say there are about 300,000 twice exceptional students in the United States. However, I think this is a gross underestimate once we consider all of the varied ways a child can have serious learning challenges coupled with extraordinary strengths….

Twice-exceptional individuals demonstrate exceptional levels of capacity, competence, commitment, or creativity in one or more domains coupled with one or more learning difficulties. This combination of exceptionalities results in a unique set of circumstances. Their exceptional potentialities may dominate, hiding their disability; their disability may dominate, hiding their exceptional potentialities; each may mask the other so that neither is recognized or addressed.”

AUTISM FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF AUTISTICS:

Spectrumly Speaking

Spectrumly Speaking is the podcast dedicated to women on the autism spectrum, produced by Different Brains®. Every other week, join our hosts Haley Moss (an autism self-advocate, attorney, artist, and author) and Dr. Lori Butts (a licensed clinical and forensic psychologist, and licensed attorney) as they discuss topics and news stories, share personal stories, and interview some of the most fascinating voices from the autism community.

Autism from the inside

When I come across instances of this folk understanding of autism, I am reminded of Edward Said’s 1978 description of the orientalist gaze, in which the exoticised subjects endure a kind of fascinated scrutiny, and are then rendered ‘without depth, in swollen detail’. Never allowed to speak for themselves, their behaviours are itemised, but not actually understood. The observer, meanwhile, is assumed to be neutral, authoritative and wise. This creates a simulacrum of the Orient, packaged for the consumption of the West. If it happened only once, it would barely be a problem; but reproduced endlessly, each skewed representation gives life and context to the next. The literary trope of autism has that same kind of memetic contagion.

Autastic

A website resource for autistics by autistics.

Autism and Employment, with Dr. Temple Grandin

“Autism advocate and author Dr. Temple Grandin discusses the importance of people on the spectrum learning how to have a job, the need for job and social skills to be taught to children, and the need for people on the spectrum to move outside their comfort zones.”

It all made sense when we found out we were autistic

Women share their experiences of diagnosis and reflect on their lives pre-diagnosis.

Telling My High School Class That I’m Autistic Is the Best Thing I’ve Ever Done

“A few days before the art show, I handed my English teacher a flyer about the event. He studied it, and called me to the front of the room to tell everyone about the show. Before I got a word out, he looked down at the flyer again and asked in front of the whole class, “Why is your show benefiting an autism organization?”

I had a choice, and the spur-of-the-moment decision I made changed the rest of my life.

“I chose this cause because I have autism,” I found myself saying, scrambling to explain further using concepts I’d memorized from a picture book about cats being on the autism spectrum.

My classmates were speechless. All of a sudden, this quiet girl with very few friends became the bravest one they knew.

I did not receive an outpouring of support or newfound friendships with my peers. My social life remained the same. A handful of people, including my English teacher, did come to my art show. However, I did learn one big lesson that day in class about having the courage to share my truth. I felt awesome for saying exactly who I was and coming out as autistic.”

What Women With Autism Want You to Know

YouTube Video of first person narratives

CHALLENGES/PROBLEMS FACED BY AUTISTICS IN A NEUROTYPICAL WORLD:

Compensatory strategies below the behavioural surface in autism: a qualitative study:

“Compensation might be an adaptive trajectory that can be differentiated from other trajectories in psychiatry, such as resilience, in which a negative outcome is avoided, behaviourally, cognitively, and neurologically, despite exposure to risk. Instead, autistic compensators, despite apparent lack of observable autistic behaviour, continue being autistic at the neurocognitive level. Importantly, compensation can generate challenges in diagnosing and supporting these individuals. Because autism spectrum disorder is diagnosed by behaviour alone, compensators might not receive a diagnosis and support until later in life, if at all. This issue is thought to be particularly acute in females, who are less likely than males to be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder despite similar underlying autistic characteristics. Even for people with a diagnosis, a neurotypical appearance due to compensation might result in support needs being underestimated in educational and workplace settings. Additionally, compensation is thought to contribute to poor mental health in autism. Compensatory attempts are taxing, need to be sustained over time, and are often unsuccessful, resulting in a cost to wellbeing.”

“Across these studies, evidence suggests that compensation is associated with a higher intelligence quotient (IQ)and executive function, which has been interpreted as intellectually conceived learned strategies. Data also indicate a link between compensation and anxiety,depression, and suicidal ideation. This link might be due to socially motivated autistic people compensating without success, which reduces their self-esteem and mental wellbeing.”

College students with autism have low graduation rate

“One of the big problems that students with autism face is the transition period and learning to navigate the college systems which are completely different from what they had to do when they were in high school,” she said.

The study found that fewer than 20 percent of college students with autism had graduated or were even on track to graduate five years after high school. Rast said some of her colleagues believe that the number goes up to 39 percent after the students are seven years out of high school.

Rast said that while the numbers increased, these students had an extra two years to complete their degree.

“We focus on adults because we’re trying to see how life turns out for adults and what kind of service could be offered to increase quality of life,” Rast said.

According to Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, 2 percent of research funding for autism in 2015 was spent on long-term issues such as the lives of individuals with autism after they graduate high school.

Autism-anorexia link ‘must be acted on’

“The NHS must change the way it assesses eating disorders to take account of a link with autism, a research charity has said.

Autistica said findings suggested one in five women presenting to UK clinics with anorexia may also have autism and tailored therapy was vital.”

Critics of Hannah Gadsby Don’t Understand Autism

“In The New Yorker his review of Douglas, critic Douglas Als posits that Gadsby is invoking her autism to insulate herself from criticism: “Of course, this confession silences or nearly silences any criticism you may have been harboring: How can you criticize that?” he writes. He seems to believe that autistic people are granted a level of consideration and patience as a result of our neurology, and that we can exploit that to evade judgement.

Being a “high-functioning” autistic myself, I can assure you that most of us are not in the habit of playing offensive defense with our neurology. Far from granting us leeway, disclosure about autism often leads to increased scrutiny. When I started opening up about my diagnosis, the most common response I received was “I hope you don’t start using this an excuse.”

This lack of awareness about the basic realities of autistic existence is apparent in many of Als’ reflections on Gadsby. Als writes that Gadsby is “more interested in performing truthfulness than she is in the truth of her performance,” and says her “solipsism masquerades as art.” For austistic people, that’s a familiar critique: Our sincerity is often found lacking by outside observers, and we’re often accused of self-absorption. When Als posits that the content of Gadsby’s work would be better “if only she could figure out a way of making her rage less pedestrian, of deepening her stories through metaphor, of rendering her tales more general without losing specificity,” I can’t help but think of all the times we’ve been accused of being too literal or lacking in empathy.”

Transgender, non-binary people ‘significantly’ more likely to be autistic

“A new study found transgender and non-binary individuals are significantly more likely to have autism or display autistic traits than the wider population.

Dr Steven Stagg of Anglia Ruskin University, England, published the unique study in the European Psychiatry journal in the September issue.

The study of 177 people found 14% of transgender and/or non-binary people had an autism diagnosis, while a further 28% displayed autistic traits.

This compares to just 4% of the general population.”

Call for help: We need to address suicide risk in autistic women

“For a few years now, researchers have known that suicide is a major issue for autistic people. The first population study on autism and suicide, published in 2015, shows it is the second biggest killer of autistic adults without intellectual disability, after heart disease.

The study included more than 27,000 autistic people and 2.7 million controls in Sweden. It revealed that the suicide rate among autistic individuals is nearly eight times that among non-autistic people.

It also exposed a truth that echoes my experience at the train station: Women with autism are more than 13 times as likely to die by suicide as those without autism.”

A School Put an Autistic Boy’s Desk in a Bathroom, Setting Off a Debate on Stigmas

“Eleven-year-old Lucas Goodwin arrived at his middle school in Washington State last week only to find that his seat was in a new place: a bathroom.

His mother, Danielle Goodwin, who had asked the school for a quiet place for her son to work because he is autistic and has an autoimmune disorder, posted a photo on Facebook of his desk over a toilet

“My son was humiliated, embarrassed, and disgusted at this inhumane suggestion that he work in a bathroom,” she wrote in the post, which has been shared and commented on thousands of times.”

MISCELLANEOUS:

Autistar

“AUTISTAR began with one area, the arts made by people with autism.

AUTISTAR hopes that the model of social integration shown by the arts will spread to various talents.

In addition to people with autism, AUTISTAR hopes that various models will be created to enable many people who are experiencing difficulties in participating in society due to any reason whatsoever, including not only disorders, to participate in creating a beautiful world.

AUTISTAR wants to become a cornerstone for the consideration of new models of welfare for them.

Because the way of sharing to recognize others’ talents and reward for the value of the talents rather than unilateral sharing is another way of respecting and loving each other’s shape.”

Are You A Stealth Dyslexic?

“‘Stealth dyslexia’ is a relatively recent term that describes students with above average reading abilities or gifted reading abilities who use coping strategies to hide their dyslexia. Since intellectually gifted kids are better able to mask their dyslexia by over compensating for their difficulties, they usually go undiagnosed. However, by the time the stealth dyslexic student starts secondary school, the strategies the students relied on, the strategies that ensured they did well enough at school so as to have their difficulties go undetected, begin to fall apart.

Kids with stealth dyslexia fly under the radar because they typically have very good comprehension skills at an early age and appear to be able to sound out words (decode words). They are also able to compensate for problems in decoding words on the basis of sound (phonological awareness) by skipping words they do not know, filling-in the gaps by guessing or through relying on inference and/or their general knowledge. However, these are simply compensatory techniques that ensure their difficulties go undetected. In reality they are not decoding but reciting words they have memorized.

The inability to automatically decode words jeopardizes reading comprehension. As the words get longer and more complex, and comprehension becomes more challenging, kids with stealth dyslexia begin to struggle. The coping strategies that they relied on when they were younger are no longer sufficient to compensate for their deficits. As a consequence, their reading comprehension begins to suffer. Instead of focusing on comprehending the passage they are reading, they are focusing on decoding words. This ensures that they are less likely to understand the passage they read.”

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