Being an Autistic person, especially an Autistic student, can often feel isolating and hopeless, but over the summer, I learned that it does not always need to feel this way.
This summer, I attended the Autistic Self Advocacy Network’s (ASAN) Autism Campus Inclusion (ACI) Leadership Academy, a program that teaches Autistic college students about advocacy, accessibility, and inclusivity. Every year, ACI is free for all the students who attend, thanks to the generous support of community members like you.
These topics have been passions of mine for a long time. I have volunteered and worked with disabled people for numerous years and I am even an autism advocate on social media where I have gotten thousands of followers and received millions of views on videos, but ACI was an experience that filled gaps in my work and introduced me to new ideas.
During ACI, I was able to attend presentations and learn new information about the history of disability/neurodiversity, student groups, campaigns, communication, policy, legislative advocacy, and more. All of this learning took place in an Autistic space–by and for only Autistic people. This provided me with a sense of community that I had never felt before. With this, I was able to truly be myself and be embraced for it.
ACI has elevated my advocacy on my campus with the disability student organization that I lead, at my current internship at an autism organization, on my social media pages, and most importantly, with my self-advocacy. The program gave me a space to reflect on myself and my past experiences and I am now able to use what I learned to guide my current life and advocacy.
Although the program took place virtually, I found myself telling others “I feel at home.” I still find myself telling people this now when I discuss the relationships I formed through ACI; how I chat nearly daily with my new friends through Discord, and how we talk for hours on end on our now weekly Zoom calls.
There is so much more I want to say about ASAN and ACI than I can in this short letter, so I have made a video on my social media pages detailing more about my participation in ACI and the impact that it has had on me: TikTok, Instagram
Know that it is your support that makes experiences like mine possible. Please consider making a donation, joining ASAN’s membership program, or sharing ASAN’s resources so others can feel the same acceptance and empowerment that I have felt and be impacted by the advocacy that is a result of ACI and ASAN.