Being an Autism Advocate – What I can overcome and what I can’t

There is one inherent problem with being an Autism Advocate. That is that what makes a person the best Autism Advocate also makes them the worst.

Sounds strange, I know but let me break it down for you, as how I see it.

The two best types of people to be an Autism Advocate are:

  1. A person with Autism/Aspergers
  2. A parent of a person with Autism/Aspergers

Who would know more or understand better than these people? Who better to stand up for their rights than the people right in the middle of it?

ObstacleHowever, think about it. Does it makes sense for a person with social and communication difficulties and impairments to be out there, speaking out and advocating for everyone? Does it make sense for a parent, with virtually no time or money, to be devoting time and money that they don’t have to speak out on behalf of others?

Parents are tired, Autistics are introverts…. Parents are busy, Autistics are usually avoiding the crowd.

It creates quite the problem when the best people to speak are the ones that are the least likely to.

There are some exceptions and there are other people that make great advocates, but for the sake of this post, I’m generalizing the majority for the sake of making a point.

What I can overcome

Social networks have really changed the world in that, you don’t have to be a celebrity or own a national news network to reach people.

My blog posts can reach hundreds, sometimes even thousands of people in a day. My tweets and status updates are the same.

And it’s not that what I do is all that great but that the people that follow me or read my stuff are so supportive and kind that they’re willing to share it with their own networks to help me reach out further.

Sitting in the comfort of my own home, I can reach thousands so long as wonderful people allow it and support me.

What I can’t overcome

I work a 9-5 job, like many people but I feel like I could do so much more if I didn’t. I can’t write like I want to, I can’t get out there and spend time with people, I can’t do interviews with people… it’s very limiting.

On top of that, even when I’m not doing the 9-5 thing, I am often doing quite a bit around the house since my wife has Fibromyalgia. Much of my off time, and even sometimes during my work time, I am doing quite a bit of chores around the house.

I live in the middle of nowhere, which means I can’t get to seminars, conventions or even out just to meet some of the wonderful parents, doctors and Autistics within the community.

No money is another big one. I can’t even buy the books that I hear about or that I’ve been wanting to read for so long.

The desire to do more

I have an itch…. I want to do so much more. I want to be more involved, I want to be contributing far more than I am.

But at the same time, I need to be a little proud of myself. I’ve been able to do quite a bit despite having so much limiting me.

The same is true for so many other advocates out there. If you reach an audience, whether that audience is 2 people or 20,000 people… just think of all that you’ve been able to overcome to achieve that. And think about, not only how good that feels, but how much good that does.

I think we’d all like to do more… and the more we do, the more we will want to do. That’s what makes an advocate a good advocate, I think.

If you’re an Autism Advocate, or any kind of special needs advocate, I want you to know that yes, I am bragging a little in this post.

It’s ok to brag a bit, so you should to. Don’t make it a big deal but feel good about what you are able to accomplish.

Even if you do find some obstacles that you are unable to overcome, you should be proud of the obstacles that you can overcome. You should be proud of yourself.

About Stuart Duncan

My name is Stuart Duncan, creator of http://www.stuartduncan.name. My oldest son (Cameron) has Autism while my younger son (Tyler) does not. I am a work from home web developer with a background in radio. I do my very best to stay educated and do what ever is necessary to ensure my children have the tools they need to thrive. I share my stories and experiences in an effort to further grow and strengthen the online Autism community and to promote Autism Understanding and Acceptance.

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5 Responses to Being an Autism Advocate – What I can overcome and what I can’t

  1. Sabrina August 4, 2011 at 9:17 pm #

    “I have an itch…. I want to do so much more. I want to be more involved, I want to be contributing far more than I am.”

    Oh My, you just read my mind. That is what I have been thinking the whole time.. every day, week, month.

    But then I add, My lack of knowledge.

    I consider my self pretty good to speak in public. I do also know I know how to reach people and make them pay attention to what I say.
    But find my self at lost here. Would love to be an advocate, but when? how? how$$$?

    So right now I’m taking it slow. Meeting people, knowing the community, learning, watching. But most of all WORKING with my kids.

    My Whole day is focus on my kid therapies of early intervention and helping my daughter to understand why is her brother who he is. And also to help her be herself. And raise both of them.

    I know what you say I live what you write. And you are doing more than me. You are writing and been so clear with what you write. Thanks.

  2. samantha August 4, 2011 at 10:23 pm #

    You “get it”… It does wonders for other parents.
    Yours,
    A fan

  3. mylindaelliott August 5, 2011 at 1:50 pm #

    I work as a disability advocate. That is a good thing, at least for me. BUT because of that people think I can stop what I’m doing whenever they want. Like in years past the school system thought I could just run over there when my daughter with Autism was having problems. At some point I started asking everyone “Does your job just let you leave like that?” Working as a disability advocate is wonderful but it has it’s own disadvantages.

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