How To Be An Advocate In Your Spare Time ...
Even if you only have an hour or half an hour to spare each week, or want to remain anonymous, there are still many ways in which you can help improve life for all people on the autistic spectrum. Here are a few ideas to jump-start your imagination. Some might take a few hours a week - others might only take 5 minutes.
Educate one person, and you're an advocate.
- Join your national autistic society, or an international advocacy organization like Autism Europe. Express your views, and lobby for the views of other people on the autistic spectrum to be heard and represented by the society.
- Find out if there's a local autism society near you. Consider joining it, or offering to talk about your experiences as a person on the autistic spectrum, or getting in touch through them with other young adults on the spectrum, or talking to the parents of a child who has similar problems to those you had at that age.
- Check out the psychology section in your university library - do they have many good and up-to-date books on autism and Asperger's, or one tatty copy of "The Empty Fortress"? If the latter, write to the librarians suggesting some books which you think the library ought to consider stocking. You might even offer to donate one or two.
- Learn HTML and build a website. This needn't cost anything - many web accounts throw in some free web-space, and some organizations such as Geocities, Tripod and Angelfire will give you a free webpage.
- Go to Amazon Books , and write a reader review of a book on the autistic specrtum which you particularly like and recommend (or which you hate).
- Educate your tutors, supervisors and friends about the autistic spectrum.
- Write a first-person account of your experiences, and send it to a web-page such as On-Line Asperger Syndrome Information and Support which will put it on-line for you (or write an account of your university experiences and send it to this site).
- If a newspaper, book, or web-site perpetuates inaccuracies about the autistic spectrum, write a civil letter or e-mail to complain and suggest how they could become better-informed.
- Join a volunteer network or befriending scheme such as that run by the National Autistic Society. When it comes to working with other people on the autistic spectrum, we can have unique insight to contribute.
- Many universities and colleges participate in fundraising for charity. You could suggest an autism-friendly project as a worthy cause. In an ideal world, we woudn't be dependent on other people's charity, but in the current world, money can make a big difference.
- Keep informed about proposed legislation in your country that might affect people on the autistic spectrum such as legislation on discrimination against people with disabilities.
- Find out who your MP or congressperson is, and contact them to express your views and encourage them to represent the interests of people on the autistic spectrum. If you're a US citizen, you can even e-mail the White House.
- Join in discussions on a newsgroup or a web forum.
DISCLAIMER: I've tried some of these myself, but not others. As in all things, you follow any of these suggestions at your own risk ...
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