Hello, I am Jonathan. I am a 15-year-old living with Asperger Syndrome/High Functioning Autism (HFA). Over the past few months, I have done many things to advocate for myself. Many of those things I self-advocated for were in school.
First off, I go to a school in New Jersey that is primarily for dyslexic learners, but they also have a program for HFA/Aspergers students. At the school, they try hard to keep everyone together in the same homeroom no matter what their skill level is. So, my class is mostly for dyslexic students. I am the only person in my class that is on the high end of the autistic spectrum.
Because of all of the other students with learning disabilities in my class, my school originally placed me in an Orton Gillingham class (OG). Well, some of you may know what OG is right off the dot. For those of you who do not know what OG is, it is a method used to teach dyslexic learners to read and spell. They learn the pronunciation and phonetics of words, syllables, diagraphs, and blends so that the student can read right. I’ve known all of this since I was in 1st Grade. To me, the class seemed degrading.
When it came time for my IEP meeting in June, I told the whole IEP team that the OG class was too easy and that I did not want to take that course the next year. The whole IEP team (with the exception of my mom and my guidance counselor) insisted that I should take the OG class the next year.
Fast forward to September, I had another IEP meeting scheduled, but this time, I came prepared. I created a PowerPoint about why the OG class was not appropriate for me. Unfortunately, they still refused to change my class and we scheduled another meeting. This time, I did not do a PowerPoint; I explained to them how I felt and that I wanted a challenge. This time, the IEP team said that they wanted to look over my testing and wanted to schedule yet another meeting!
Finally, the next afternoon, my Vice Principal came to me to show that they had found an appropriate class for me instead of the OG one. When I heard that news, I was very proud of how well I advocated for myself.
Although there are issues still going on at my school, I have learned from that past experience to continue to speak up for myself and not give up. My advice to all others advocating for themselves is this: Don’t give up and continue to work hard. It doesn’t mean that because you have autism that you can’t advocate for yourselves. Stay in the game and never give up on your cause or you will lose and the other side will definitely win.