When I was researching language pragmatics for my recent echolalia and scripting post, I came across an IEP goal bank. For those of you who aren’t familiar with these terms, IEP stands for Individualized Education Plan, which is a personalized document that describes an educational program designed to meet the needs of a child who is enrolled in special education. It includes, among other things, information about current performance, annual goals, services, accommodations, and progress.
Presumably to make these unwieldy documents easier to create, there are databases (goal banks) of scripted goals and objectives (sub-tasks of goals). One can search the goal bank for items that can be inserted into a child’s IEP with a small amount of customization. Of course, I couldn’t resist digging through the databases to see what types of goals autistic children are being asked to meet.
It quickly became obvious to me that I, as a 45-year-old autistic adult, could not consistently meet many of the social and communication goals and objectives that autistic elementary school students are expected to achieve. As I kept digging, patterns began to emerge. Continue reading Unreasonable Goals
Accommodations make life easier, but as Otterknot pointed out in a recent comment, asking for accommodations often sounds simpler than it is.
Why is that? Why are we so reluctant to ask for something that will improve our quality of life, our relationships or our ability to succeed at work or school?
The biggest obstacle is often disclosure. Asking for an accommodation or support means disclosing that we’re disabled. Accommodations are for disabled people, after all. For those of us who have spent a lifetime instinctively trying to pass as nondisabled, it can be hard to make the mental shift to being openly or even semi-openly disabled.
There is also the question of whether the other party will understand the nature of hidden disabilities. Unlike a visible disability, a hidden disability carries a certain burden of proof. So we hesitate, wondering whether the other person will believe that we really need this particular accommodation or perhaps dreading the amount of explaining and/or convincing that will be involved.
Finally, there is the specter of self-doubt. Do I really need to ask for this? Can’t I just continue to suck it up and power through like I always have? Maybe if I work harder, I don’t really need any supports. Continue reading Asking for Accommodations
When I posted about my kidney infection saga last summer, a lot of you shared similar stories about difficulties with getting the right treatment for an illness. Often the stories revolved around how hard it is to get proper diagnosis and treatment when your body and brain are atypical in ways that a lot of doctors are not used to seeing. There were a few themes from that post that stayed with me:
- We often have atypical symptoms and atypical reactions to medications
- We often have difficulty describing our pain, symptoms or illness in a way that doctors understand
- Many of us have had bad experiences with the medical system because of communication barriers or the way we experience our bodies
- Sensory sensitivities, communication barriers and bad past experiences can cause us to avoid seeking out medical care when we need it
Today’s post at Autism Women’s Network touches on all of these issues plus a few more that I’ve encountered in reading other autistic adults’ experiences: Accessible Health Care for Autistic Adults
In an ideal world, health care providers would receive training in making care more accessible to autistic adults, and maybe that will be the case in the future. Until then, those of us who feel comfortable doing so have some self-advocacy options:
- Ask our health care providers for the accommodations that we need to make care more effective. This is a hard one because there is an inherent power differential in the doctor-patient relationship. Sharing general information articles like today’s AWN post and the information for providers at the AASPIRE website can be a good way to start a conversation.
- Share information about doctors who are autistic-patient-friendly. AWN is creating a crowdsourced directory for women’s healthcare providers which is a great way of making information available to a larger number of people. Within the autistic community, there is also the opportunity for informal sharing among people who live in the same city or community.
- Take advantage of resources like a personalized AASPIRE report to share our specific needs with doctors we see regularly. The AASPIRE reports are very detailed and probably beyond the scope of a short one-time visit to a new doctor, but they could play an important role in an ongoing doctor-patient relationship.
- Enlist allies. Sometimes medical appointments are more successful when we bring along an ally who can act as our cognitive interpreter or support person. This is especially true when an illness is interfering with our communication or decision-making abilities.
I’m sure I’ve missed things, both here and in the AWN article so, as always, I’m looking forward to your comments.