Local Group Hosts Neurodiversity Speaker

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 Last month, Suffield non-profit, Partnering to Reach Aspirations, hosted a presentation by John Elder Robison, author of Look Me in the Eye, as part of the group’s Speaker Series, Understanding Young Adults with Aspergers/ASD.

   Mr. Robison spoke on the role of neurodiversity in our lives and employment and living opportunities for recent graduates with ASD/Aspergers.

   Robison shared anecdotes of individuals on the spectrum who have started their own businesses very successfully. An individual can tap his or her “genius zone” and apply it to solving problems without having to adapt to social norms if he or she is the “‘boss.” There are advantages to working from home and having control of environmental dynamics that can interfere with the sensory sensitivities of an individual on the spectrum.

   “Our young adults need to experience the world outside their home to grow and become strong self-advocates,” said Caroline d’Otreppe, president of PTRA. “Young adults on the spectrum are really not the problem. Social norms are the problem.”

  With the growing numbers of individuals being diagnosed with dyslexia, ADHD and ASD, society is approaching a critical mass of neurodiversity that can no longer be ignored, Robison explained. Brains wired differently contribute new ideas and solutions and should be considered beneficial additions to teams. As institutions and the workplace aim to incorporate “universal design” for universal accessibility, attention has to paid to the culture of the workplace as well. There has to be respect and consideration given to all those who struggle to adapt at no fault of their own. All employees need to be “enabled” in order to work to their potential. Disability is not a term that should exist in the workplace, according to Robison.

  Partnering to Reach Aspirations is creating a six-day workshop for recent graduates with ASD from Suffield. This course will run July 6–11 from 1–3 p.m. online. The content aims to empower, create trust, practice strong advocacy, and develop individual plans for employment. The initial class will be kept to five participants and provided at a low cost. Feedback from participants will be expected.

  Please contact Caroline d’Otreppe at caroline.dotreppe@gmail.com for a registration form or with questions. Enrollment will be reached on a first-come first-serve basis.

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