Wooo blog hops! I should maybe make a blog hop tag. *makes tag.* Now I need to write something don't I?
I crashed pretty hard after my class trip to Jingdezhen (景德镇) back in November. I've been pretty iffy on writing since. I haven't done much of any leadership type stuff or even fully knowing what's going on in advocacy stuff since. I've been aware enough of Boycott Autism Speaks to signal boost them some, at least.
But you know what? It's OK that I can't always do more than just manage my own existence. It really is. Also, at the moment, I'm in a position where just being there and existing and making it to class every day... apparently does have some potentially important activist effect. The university that I'm at in China has apparently been worried about having an autistic student studying abroad at their school for the entire time I've been around. OK, make that ever since I disclosed, which was sometime over the summer.
Right now, my advocacy is being the autistic student who goes out and is a student and makes at least some of the administrators and teachers think. My advocacy is being there and being visible and saying "Yes, an autistic student can go to college. Yes, an autistic student can study abroad. Yes, an autistic student can reach a high enough level of Chinese proficiency to take major classes conducted in Chinese. Yes, an autistic student can do all of these things, albeit not in the exact same way, still needing supports, still looking rather clearly different." And no, not every autistic student will follow in my exact path. Most won't. [Neither will most neurotypical students, let's be honest here, if you don't live in a multilingual household or in a household where the dominant language isn't the same as the one used in school getting that kind of proficiency in a second language is hard.]
It's still important to open those paths. It's important to make "college" and "study abroad" and "education while still acting obviously autistic" things that people think of as possibilities. I didn't go into the year intending to prove stuff to Tianjin. I figured I'd be spending some amount of time reminding the USA program people that yes, the ADA exists, not that they'd be proactively protecting me from Tianjin so I get the chance to prove competence to them. I might actually be the first openly autistic student this school has had. I'm not 100% sure, but given a lot of the reactions and questions I'm hearing about... it really sounds like I might be.
So advocacy: Someone has to be that first person to openly go out and say "I'm Autistic and doing the thing." Or "I use a wheelchair and I'm doing the thing." Or "I have Down's and I'm doing the thing." It looks like I may have (predominantly unwittingly) wound up being that person for the university where I'm studying abroad. And I'm kind of being a Lady Knight Keladry about it. This is already interesting and I'm sure it will get more so.