Be Your Child’s Advocate – Know Your Rights

As a parent of a child with autism, and especially a nonverbal child with autism, you have to speak up for your child.  When he or she can’t speak, and everyone else around him or her is staring and things are uncomfortable, you have to speak up.  When your child is acting out in a manner that would terrify anyone else, you have to speak up.  You have to be your child’s advocate.

To be your child’s advocate means that you don’t have to get snippy or rude with others.  It does mean that you calmly explain to them that your child has autism, and this is what happens sometimes.  It also means explaining to them how to deal with it, and how not to deal with it.

  1. You have the right to share information about your child that helps others feel less uncomfortable or better understand what autism is.
  2. You have the right to not share any information about your child, if you think it isn’t in your or your child’s best interests to do so.
  3. You have the right to inform others that your child is fully capable of a task and you expect him/ her to do it.  They should not attempt to help unless you ask them to.
  4. You have the right to seek public legislature to change laws which may be perceived as discriminatory against your child.
  5. You have the right to pursue legal action against anyone who has treated you and your child unfairly or has hurt your child because of his/ her autism.
  6. You have the right to speak out and speak up against anyone who clearly does not know nor understand what autism is.  You must present yourself with good conduct, and not with vulgar language or hostility, because that will never get the message about autism across.  It will only make matters worse.
  7. You have the right to bring autism awareness to places where you and your child go, and where there is a deficit of this awareness.
  8. You have the right to assemble, march, rally or otherwise support causes and actions that would help your child and children with autism everywhere.
  9. You have the right to ask that your child be included in educational programs that are close to home and within your neighborhood school.  So many parents do not realize that their children are entitled to attend their neighborhood school and receive whatever services are deemed necessary for them to learn with their peers.  School districts can enforce and hinder parents into thinking that their special needs children have to be bussed across town to another school in the district when the neighborhood school is a few blocks down just because they don’t feel like hiring an extra special needs teacher or their special needs teachers aren’t allowed to leave one school for the couple hours he/ she will service children at another school in the district.  That’s baloney, and you can tell them so.
  10. You and your child have the right to attend church anywhere and be supported by the members of that church without prejudice and without any harassment.  God loved and healed the lame, the blind, the sick, and the feeble of body and mind.  His houses of worship should not treat you or your child like paraiahs, and that goes for any other place you and your child go, period.

You also should know, “Autism Awareness Day” “Top Twenty Support Groups For Autism” and “Agencies, Support Groups at the Ready For Your Autistic Child