Whenever I was in a tough place, mental health professionals would tell me to try harder to fit in. I would get so frustrated at the unwritten social rules. I always felt like I was out of the loop.
Though I always knew I was autistic, it wasn't until I went through a journey to claim the label for myself that I truly began to accept who I am.
I use identity-first language to communicate that autism is part of my human experience. There is no version of me that exists without my neurodivergence.
Education & Experience
I have first-hand experience in the autism world, both as an autistic person and as a provider. While autism is not synonymous with neurodiversity, many neurodivergent people share similar experiences. A core part of my education is actively listening to and collaborating with the neurodivergent community. I take extra care to incorporate intersectionality into my work.
I hold a Master of Social Work degree from Portland State University in Portland, Oregon (2022). In 2017, I graduated from University of Washington with a major in geography and minor in disability studies.
I worked at my college's disability resource center, helping students access accommodations. Before that, I was a paraeducator for my local school district.
I currently volunteer for the Clark County Developmental Disabilities Advisory Board where I have served as Vice-Chair since 2021.
What does it mean to be "neurodiversity-affirming"?
I recognize the way neurodivergence is studied has been heavily biased, leading to less understanding and fewer resources for those holding marginalized identities.
I challenge the idea of "problem behaviors" by looking at the situation and cultural context. A lack of eye contact in the United States is perceived as rude, but elsewhere it may not be.
I view communication as a two-way process (in fact, research shows that autistic people can communicate and be understood by each other quite well)
I reject interventions that pathologize innate neurodivergence and seek to conform us to a neurotypical standard.