CJ is a little behind schedule! Before wrapping up her experience of the AMTA2012 nat’l conference, first things must come first! See, the two most important events of the year, for The Musical Autist, both happened at the beginning of October….
So first, and most importantly, was the AutCom2012 nat’l conference, which was the first weekend of October and conveniently right here in Maryland. Both Laura-Sun and CJ were in attendance. Laura-Sun as autistic self advocate and CJ as her support. First let’s describe the AutCom organization, specifically for our music therapist readers. With CJ being fairly new in the field of music therapy, she is often surprised with the number of MTs who have never even heard of the Neurodiversity Movement, especially those who offer direct services to those on the spectrum. This makes her even more passionate about her work as a disability rights advocate and ally.
What’s important to realize is that out of the vast number of autism organizations out there, groups like AutCom….you could say they’re the “underdogs” in the autism world. It is safe to assume that any organization which promotes the Neurodiversity Movement is also implying that they are not pouring their efforts into “curing” autism, but rather accepting and accommodating autism. Think about the majority of nonprofits out there that use the “cure” rhetoric. Without feeding into the autism debates and controversies, the differences are simply so important for MTs to gain awareness in, because the “acceptance vs. cure” models will inevitably impact treatment philosophies and modalities in the years to come.
With all of that being said, let’s discuss “AutCom,” which is the abbreviation for Autism National Committee, and the host of the conference which we attended. From AutCom’s homepage, they are:
“an autism advocacy organization dedicated to ‘Social Justice for All Citizens with Autism’ through a shared vision and a commitment to positive approaches.”
The Musical Autist aligns themselves wholeheartedly with their message.
In the face of social policies of devaluation, which are expressed in the practices of segregation, medicalization, and aversive conditioning, we assert that all individuals are created equal and endowed with certain inalienable rights, and that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Just as we envision communities based on the cultivation and support rather than the control of their members, the Committee encourages its individual members and organizational partners toward self-direction and self-empowerment.
We LOVE this! Yes, self-direction and self-empowerment.
This why The Musical Autist positions itself as a platform for self-advocacy.
We welcome the participation of all family members, people with autism/PDD, caring professionals…
You know, the “helping professions,” like Speech, Occupational, Music Therapy… 🙂
and other friends who wish to implement, not debate, the right to self-determination by hearing and heeding the voices of people with autism.
This is the stance that The Musical Autist takes as an organization, and CJ takes in all of her advocacy work – to implement, not debate….
We have joined together to provide information, support, networking, advocacy, a strong voice in federal legislation and policy, a newsletter, conferences and trainings, a bookstore, a variety of unique publications, and an ongoing reappraisal of fundamental research and treatment issues in the light of what people with autism themselves find meaningful and respectful.
The Musical Autist promotes itself as an organization, and SensoryFriendly Concerts as a public event, which is meaningful and respectful to people on the autism spectrum. We are really excited about the number of MTs who are interested in facilitating SensoryFriendly Concerts, so it’s very important that we describe our philosophy behind what we do.
This was an interesting convo, since Laura-Sun is blind and Tracy is for the most part “non-verbal.” So it played out like this: Tracy typed his message into his iPad, Harvey (his support) slid it across the table to CJ, upon which she read the message out loud to Laura-Sun. If we do say so ourselves, it was a monumental conversation in the grand scheme of autism disability rights history.
To be continued…. and stay tuned, we will let you know what Tracy and Laura-Sun decide to do in their next steps of joining forces of autistic self advocacy….
Here’s a short video from Laura-Sun, sharing her experience at AutCom2012. We have a few more videos we’ll be posting soon. You’ll be able to find them on the About Us tab.