This month we're asking our autistic community members What Do You Want? What Do You Need? We're featuring their answers all April long, right here. Today we're having a conversation with Jason Ross, a self-advocate who thrives on empowering others. Please read, listen, and share.
I run Self-Advocacy/Empowerment meetings part-time, helping many people who are autistic, have developmental disabilities, ID, or mental
health issues. These people who are residents and day habilitation consumers in New York City feel that they have a voice and the same real choices
that everyone else has. I create presentations every week, and
curriculum that I try to get everyone to follow to help create a
sense of worthiness for everyone. Empowering others really empowers not
only them, but myself as well. I also run the Adaptations Facebook page
for the JCC in Manhattan part-time.
Every year on Autistic Pride Day, June 18th, I run my Autistic Artistic
Carnival on www.drivemomcrazy.com. I can't wait to see what this year's 5th Annual Carnival will show to society. I create my own art and write
stories too! I admire my dog, Skyler the Maltese dog who is
fearless in nature. I have many struggles as an Autistic person.
What are some things that make you happy? Why?
I really feel happy when I have helped people along the way on my path
of helping myself. I also work to try to change society's perception of the
disability community, because it makes me feel I am making a difference, though, I get frustrated when I can't really help others right away. I just keep on moving forward to help people and do the things that I
love to do!
I also feel happy when I organize my life, and can feel
satisfied by deep pressure on my body when I need it.
What are some things you avoid whenever possible? Why?
I avoid crowds as much as I can, and loud noises, like sirens,
firecrackers, popping balloons, and lighting that hurts my eyes. I have
multi-sensory issues that affect my every day living and it makes me
feel upset when people insist I have to do certain things when my
sensory issues become bothered. I also do not like soft touch and avoid
this as much as possible. However, I have had to compromise for society
because many people have insisted I need to be around certain things. So, I cover my ears, but probably will need to invest in excess noise
canceling headphones soon. I also do not like confrontations, but
realize sometimes it's necessary to allow others to know what you are
saying in a gentle, non-assuming way that others will understand.
What features does your ideal living space have, and why?
My ideal living space is living in an area where I can drive my car to
get to where I can go, but have easy access to using a train to get to
the urban areas when necessary. I prefer living in the country rather
than the city, but the meaningful work I do is in the city. I would love
to live in a space where I can organize myself easily, and post
on a bulletin board on my wall reminders for what I need to do each
day. I need many different types of support in my living space. I would
love to one day own a house in the Negev Desert in Israel because of the
quiet, serene, simple, natural beauty of the desert. For now, I am
living at home with my parents which is ideal enough until it's time for
me to move on.
What are your favorite books, movies, and/or TV shows?
My favorite TV show is Ghost Whisperer (on NetFlix) and many
people say I should get into Game of Thrones since it's right up my
alley, and I love looking up on the internet about The Walking Dead
series. I've only seen season one. I have been leaning towards reading the comic
book series instead because it's the original version of The Walking
Dead. My favorite books are Common Sense by Thomas Paine, and I'm loving the
book called When God Winks, by Squire Rushnell, and No Pity, by James
P. Shapiro. My favorite movies would have to be 12 years a Slave, 2001:
A Space Odyssey, and Frozen. I love listening to the song Let it Go, by
What autistic experiences would you like
to see more of, when it comes to storytelling efforts like books,
movies, and/or TV shows?
A more diversified sense of Autistic life. For example, I wish
there were more media attention on the fact that many Autistic people
live independently, with life-fulfilling experiences in the world. This
would attract Autistic people to live with dignity, independence, and
with the same supports many others get from society.
Showing how Autistic people are included in society is important. I
really loved watching "Ghost Whisperer, Season 2, Episode 4 because it
showed two Autistic people that were living together independently and
almost showed a perfect example of Autistic life. Though, there were
some glitches with that too, because the main character and the husband
said things that led to society fearing autism. I really feel
they should be showing how Autistic people are Human just like Neurotypical people,
instead of showing us like we are robots, unemotional, and/or can't do
much. We are a living example of the fact that we do get it, we just
take time to actually do it. Once we do get it, do it, we perfect it
better than Neurotypicals would have ever done it. If the media shows Autistic people need the support, but can be independent at the same
time, it will start changing society's perceptions.
What are some things you'd like the media and other people to stop saying about autistic people?
The media needs to show that Autistic people have just as much potential
as Neurotypical people do, we just need more support sometimes. They
need to stop convincing society that being Autistic should be feared. I
hope the media stops sending out messages that Autistic people need to
be cured, like we are a disease and wrong for society. The media's
message creates a sense that Autistic people are unemotional, not
empathetic, needing constant attention, and not able to grow like
Neurotypical people do. We are Human too, and we have every right to live
with self-determination, just as anyone else does and is capable of. We may
be disabled, but we are not less than Human. Self-Determination is not a
privilege, it's a right! Plus, we are not always egocentric, and ego-centrism is a Human trait sometimes, not an Autistic one. We are
trying to cope with Neurotypical standards in society which were
developed over hundreds of years because of a perception that disability
is wrong in society. Who is is to say disability or being Autistic is
wrong? Being Autistic is a part of Humanity we all need to embrace. The
media needs to realize that in Humanity, everyone lives to be the person
they AUT to be.
pushes society away from the mindset that Autistics have our own space,
have our own way of doing things, and have our communication to express ourselves
to the world. The media needs to learn that Autistic culture exists
like any other culture does! The media needs to understand that Autistic
people are not, by any means, broken, evil, or not a part of the Human
race. Humanity is a part of what makes all of us one in nature. So,
let's stop fighting. Let's stop hurting each other, and let's begin a
beautiful society the world needs now!
If you could change one thing to make the world more friendly to autistic people, what would it be?
Allow everyone to be non-judgemental and accept ALL people and animals
in nature, so anyone can live their life with the potential they have to
fulfill their life's mission. Everyone does not have the same mission,
and not everyone will live their life the same way, but everyone lives
to work hard with support from people around them. Every Autistic person
needs to be allowed to stim if they want,
repeat things when needed, or express themselves about what we want and
need (not what Neurotypicals want and need from US!) Every one,
including Autistic people, need to be Brave enough, like Sara Bareilles
says in her song, and no one should be afraid to speak their mind to get their point across when necessary, by using the communication we each feel most comfortable with.
Every voice counts in the world, Autistic or
Not, so people who try to influence Autistic voices should not be
tolerated. We all make up society, so let's make a society that the
world and the universe could be proud of, by showing interdependence
throughout the world. ACCEPT!