John Elder Robison noted that SLPs and audiologists are also well poised to raise awareness of neurodiversity—the notion that neurotypical isn’t necessarily better. It’s just one way of being among many. He likened bullying of—and discrimination against—people on the spectrum to unfair treatment of any racial, cultural or minority group.
Parents may tell their children on the spectrum that we should all respect each other’s differences. “But let’s be honest,” said Robison. “Kids in school don’t see it that way. Professionals like you who are embedded in schools can help change their perceptions that different is bad or less. Help them see that autism is part of who we are, just like red hair or blue eyes.”
Also key is SLPs’ work teaching kids on the spectrum social and conversational skills through their widening array of interventions, said Robison. He received valuable articulation treatment from SLPs in middle school but had to figure out pragmatic social skills on his own—“slowly and haltingly into adulthood,” he said. Both articulation and pragmatic interventions are needed to set children with ASD on their way to success in all aspects of life, said Robison.