My Speech at the Autism Society Self Determination Conference

When you think of your future, you have lots of ideas.

So do I.

Remember when you finished high school? What were your plans?

My plans are similar. I want a college degree. I want independent living one day. I want a relationship. I want a fulfilling job. I must try to get these despite my autism and my not speaking and all the challenges this brings.

From our earliest ages people with autism are used to being told what to do.

Touch your nose!

Touch your head!

Look at me!

Hands down.

All done!

Self-determination means having the right to express what I need to achieve my goals.

This means that the unique and individual needs of people with disabilities need to be addressed. My needs are different than the cookie cutter. This means that agencies, like Regional Center, and others, that support us in our adult lives, need to be adaptable.

I want to get the right support. The support I need may be very different than what other people with disabilities, or even other people with autism need, to succeed in college and in a career. I am a bright enough guy to know my needs and the kind of support that will enable me to achieve my goals. I want to be sure that the support and services I will receive after high school will be what I truly need and not based on the needs of other people with different plans or different talents.

My experts have missed the mark most of my life. Kind of like a tennis player who keeps missing the ball or hitting it to the wrong court.

That’s why I would really like to plan my own course and have a say in my own life.

We need partners to support us, not planners to tell us where we belong.

Isn’t that supposed to be the objective of all the services we have received all our lives anyway?

I warn you about one thing though. A consequence of teaching autistic people to type is that we have opinions and we have determination. Once we can express them we will demand a voice in our own futures.


10 responses to “My Speech at the Autism Society Self Determination Conference

  1. Bravo Ido! Thank you for leading the way for our children with autism. The future is much brighter for them for having you as a pioneering voice. May you achieve all your goals! We are rooting for you.

  2. Bravo, Ido – I hope the “experts” are listening!

  3. “A consequence of teaching autistic people to type is that we have opinions and we have determination. Once we can express them we will demand a voice in our own futures.”

    Love this – if you don’t tweet, may I quote you on this and tweet it?

  4. I just wanted to say how incredible you are. I’m currently reading your book (almost finished actually) so far it is extradonairy. I’m a 20 year old, striving for a degree to work with children who have special needs and I must say after reading your book, I have a new outlook on the way I should approach these children and also a new outlook on my life altogether. Thank you for giving me the self-determination to keep going. You’re so inspiring Ido, it’s amazing wheat you are doing for non-verbal autistic children. Keep being fantastic! 🙂

  5. Thank you Ido. Your words have made me go from crying to laughing in a matter of seconds. You remind me what is important for my very bright, non-speaking four year old. By the way , your book gave me the confidence to start teaching my little boy to read. To be honest he was already teaching himself, but your book allowed me to believe in him.

  6. Hi Ido,
    I love your blog. I have twin boys (both have autism and are non-verbal). I was curious. What app do you use on the ipad to communicate? Thank you

  7. Dear Ido- I am reading your book and cannot put it down. Thank you for being such a brave and honest advocate for so many who haven’t been able to unlock that door yet. As a teacher of students with Autism for 21 years, I have always found each student such a unique individual. I have always had a deep passion for helping my students communicate more and your insight will take me and my students to a whole new level. I too can see it on their faces when they are in there and they can feel my love for them. I only wish I could have learned this sooner – I want to go back and help some that I feel I let down. I will make it my mission to engage any and all teachers to try to see each of them from the inside out! Best of luck in your future and career! Sincerely, Joanne Wallace -M. Ed. and still learning…

  8. The saying Nothing About Us Without Us is still so very true!!!

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