Self-advocacy plays a vital role in nearly every aspect of life for individuals on the spectrum, in school, at home, in the community, and at work. The more self-awareness they possess, the more active players they can be in advocating for their own comfort, happiness, and well-being—whether this involves approaching a teacher, if they are having trouble keeping up with the lectures because they just can’t write fast enough or being able to express to people that they don’t always “get” the person’s jokes because he or she takes them literally.
For adolescents on the autism spectrum, academic subjects are only part of the learning process. Self-regulation, decision-making, problem-solving, prevocational and vocational planning are areas that – through a structured curriculum – must be a part of and, ultimately, culminate the learning process.
The Integrated Self-Advocacy ISA™ A Program for Emerging Self-Advocates with Autism Spectrum and Other Conditions, by Valerie Paradiz, Ph.D., mother of a young man on the autism spectrum and herself also diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, helps professionals and family members provide safe forums for self-discovery, structured learning activities, and a cumulative understanding of the many facets of self-advocacy.
This cutting-edge curriculum consists of 11 units with detailed lesson plans, worksheets, and activities, including scanning sen¬sory and social environments, identifying how and when to self-disclose, exploring the history of autism, studying role models with ASD, developing media literacy on topics involving autism, and cultivating deep and focused interests for vocation and leisure time. Students’ work throughout the lessons culminates in the creation of a personal self-advocacy portfolio, a living document that can be adjusted over the life span and, therefore, will play an important part of ongoing self-awareness and self-advocacy efforts.
For individuals with an autism spectrum disorder, being aware of themselves, the environment around them, and how they the two affect each other does not come naturally. Yet, children and adults with autism spectrum and related conditions often receive limited support in these vital life skills. This is because people have little time to develop thoughtful, person-centered materials and tools, or simply have no clue how to begin to provide this kind of support. The information and skills gained from Valerie Paradiz’ insightful curriculum will allow them to react more proactively to the world around them, and, as a consequence, take more control of their lives.
Valerie Paradiz, Ph.D., develops educational programs for children and adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and other disabilities. Valerie is the author of Elijah’s Cup: A Family’s Journey into the Community and Culture of High-Functioning Autism and Asperger Syndrome. She also speaks nationally and internationally on parenting strategies, improving and creating programs for individuals with ASDs, preparing for college and the college search, strengthening advocacy skills, and fostering emerging talents and focused interests. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, Redbook Magazine, and The Guardian. Valerie is a member of the national board of directors of the Autism Society of America, where she serves as co-chair of the Panel of Individuals on the Spectrum and is a member of the Government Relations Committee. She is also a member of the Bank Street College of Education’s Institute for Cognitive Diversity.
To receive a sample copy of the ISA™ curriculum, to set up an interview with Valerie Paradiz, or for more information, please email AAPC at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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