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Wednesday, September 8, 2021

If you want to develop an effective autism training, ask autistic students to help you

 In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the growing number of college students on the spectrum

Kristen Gillespie-Lynch and colleagues have an article at Autism titled "If you want to develop an effective autism training, ask autistic students to help you." The abstract:

Autistic university students are often left out because people do not understand autism. We wanted to help people understand autism. Most autism trainings are not made by autistic people. Autistic people know what it is like to be autistic. So autistic people may be the best teachers when it comes to teaching about autism. Autistic students and non-autistic professors made an autism training. The students made videos for the training. They also helped make questions to see what people learned from the trainings. Professors who are not autistic made a training on their own. Students in New York City tried out the trainings. After they answered questions, they did either the training the autistic students helped make or the training made by only professors. Then, they answered questions again. We learned from the students how to make our trainings better. Then, students from two universities in the United States and one university in Lebanon did our trainings and questions. Both trainings made hidden feelings about autism better. The training autistic students helped make taught students more than the training professors made on their own. The autistic-led training also helped students accept autism more. These studies show that autistic students can make autism research and trainings better. At the end of this article, autistic students share their ideas for how to make autism trainings even better in the future.

From the article:

Autistic co-authors indicated that their experiences contributing to the development and/or evaluation of the participatory training gave them self-confidence and helped them advocate for themselves and others, particularly people who are diverse in multiple ways, such as autistic women and non-speaking people. They enjoyed learning how participants initially thought about autism and how their viewpoints expanded with training to appreciate the diversity of the autism constellation. An autistic collaborator wrote,

 Developing this participatory training for my capstone was an experience that felt quite personal to me, as I felt as though I was helping a new generation of autistic students be okay with being themselves. Whatever I can do to improve the conditions for people on the spectrum in the future, I will do, and this was an important part of that.