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Empowering Students with Autism to Thrive

Mount Royal University Symposium
1 Hour Session
8:45 AM, Friday 14 Feb 2020 (1 hour 30 minutes)
Mount Royal University - Ross Glen Hall
Location : Mount Royal University - Ross Glen Hall

Mount Royal University Symposium

My biggest obstacle to living well is not my autism. It is my extremely fragile mental health. And my experience is not unique. Co-occuring mental health issues (like severe anxiety and depression) are the biggest obstacle to the futures of people with autism (Cribb 2019). For example, we are 7 - 9x more likely to engage in suicidal behaviours compared to our peers (Hirvikoski 2019). If we want to prevent these rampant mental health problems, we have to make different choices. Autistics are being taught that we are broken and that who we are naturally is NOT ok. And this is an absolutely devastating message to internalize. We are not broken or defective, but we do have brains that work differently than “neurotypical” or so-called “normal” brains. It is vital that we learn to empower students with autism by respecting and publicly acknowledging their innate strengths and abilities (Armstrong 2010).

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