Category Archives: inclusion

On Manny Pacquiao’s comments about homosexuality and the case for examining our thoughts

Manny Pacquiao was recently dropped by Nike over his remarks about homosexuals (click here for more). Manny reportedly said, amongst other things, that homosexuals are worse than animals..

Any form of discrimination should not be acceptable

Understandably, many people are upset about what the famous boxer has said. I myself am deeply disappointed as he is someone that many people look up to. Although nobody has ever suggested that Manny Pacquiao is an intellectual whose words should be treated as the truth, I fear that because of his status, success and undeniable popularity, his opinions may strengthen the backward beliefs of some and may influence the thinking of some.

I agree that people have the right to have their own opinions. However, I am frustrated when this right is abused. Sure, we are entitled to disagree and think differently from everyone else, but we must never think that another person is a lesser human being just because they are romantically involved with a person of the same sex. This is no different from any other forms of discrimination such as those based on religious and/ or racial grounds. How would Manny feel if he is publicly degraded by someone based on his nationality or religion? Would he be pleased? I think not.

The case for examining our own thoughts and beliefs

I can only ascertain that Manny’s comments are based on his religious beliefs which are passed on to him, perhaps by elders in his community as well as by pastors/priests/preachers. If this is true, this highlights the importance of examining our own thoughts and beliefs. We must ask ourselves the following questions from time to time:

  • ‘Why am I thinking this way?’
  • ‘Why do I believe what I believe?’
  • ‘Are my beliefs detrimental to other people’s lives?’
  • ‘Is what I believe supported by evidence?’
  • ‘Are there any alternative ways of thinking that are supported by better evidence?’
  • ‘How are those evidence collected?’

It is not a bad thing nor is it ever too late,to change our minds based on better quality of evidence. The reason why I am writing this is to explain that although Manny Pacquiao is an influential figure, not only in his country but worldwide, his opinions must be questionned, challenged and opposed. The same goes with the opinions of others who are more ‘powerful’ and have more authority than us.

Please, let us all use our brains.

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LGBT Women’s amazing work

To celebrate the International Women’s Day, the Huffington Post published an article profiling the work done by LGBT women around the world.

Click HERE to learn more about the following women:

  • Hannah Winterbourne
  • Claire Balding
  • Vicky Beeching
  • Ellen Page
  • Alison Bechdel
  • Cara Delevigne
  • Alice Walker
  • Andreja Pejic
  • Kellie Maloney
  • Jack Monroe
  • Paris Lees
  • Mary Portas
  • Sandi Toksvig
  • Tracy Chapman

Using #thedress to explain diversity

We have all heard of #thedress, right? The dress pictured above caused a world-wide frenzy when it was posted on social networking sites. Some claimed that the dress was white and gold, some (like me) were adamant that the same dress was black and blue, while some say it’s blue and gold. Some people have also claimed that they sometimes see white and gold, but can also see it as blue and black at times.

People have argued for days and eventually settled that although the dress was in fact black and blue, we all see it differently. The video below explains why:

Accepting diversity

So how is it that we can accept the fact that people see this dress differently to us, but cannot accept that other people ARE DIFFERENT FROM US?

Why is it so hard for some to accept people from different ethnicities, socioeconomic status, abilities, different sex and sexual orientations?

Isn’t the greatness of this world due to our diversity?

I know I am talking about a small proportion of society who has yet to open their eyes. I am hoping that by using a popular example such as #thedress will help them understand what I (and many others) have been talking about for years.

A Professional’s Guide to Talking About Autism

Talking about Autism in  professional contexts should be done with utmost sensitivity and respect towards the individuals with the condition and their families. Having sat through assessments, consultations, education and health care meetings, annual reviews and planning meetings with familes and professionals, I have learned lessons of what to do and what not to do when it comes to talking about the said subject. I am aiming, through this article, to share with you what I have learned over the years.

1. It’s not an epidemic and no one is ‘suffering’ from Autism

Despite what the figures suggest, I do not consider Autism as an epidemic – it has been around for longer than we all think and we just got better at identifying it.

I would try to avoid using any negative terms at all when talking about Autism. Someone HAS Autism, but he/ she is not suffering. I prefer to call Autism as a condition, not a disorder or a disease.

Please note that I do not want you all to turn a blind eye on the difficulties that the individuals and their families are having at any point. Absolutely not! I urge you to acknowledge that. What I want you all to understand is that whatever it is that is happening now can be changed. Focus on what can be done (realistically) to make their situations better.

2. Individuals with Autism; not Autistic individuals

The jury is still out with this one – some actually want to be identified as ‘autistic’, as it is a major part of their identities, while some would like to be referred to as (for example) ‘a girl with Autism’. I always use the latter one, unless corrected by the individual or the family. I feel that by referring to them as ‘individuals with Autism’, I am acknowledging that there is more to them than having a diagnosis – that Autism is only a part of who they are. By doing so, I believe that I am opening up the opportunity for others to truly discover who the person really is as a whole.

3. Avoid using ‘High/Low Functioning’ and ‘severely/mildly Autistic’

I myself am guilty of this until recently. First of all, I know that levels of functioning depends (in a large part) on the individual’s IQ score. However, I began to understand that IQ is only a part of who they truly are.

I understand that levels of functioning may give professionals and parents a common language/ reference point to which they can base an individual’s set of abilities. But I feel like this should be avoided as it is misleading. I have met many people with Autism who have overall IQs of less than 70 but are amazing in specific things. One may be ‘low functioning’ but it does not mean that they cannot (or are not) good at something.

What I find helpful is to look at the overall picture. Try to understand every context, every behaviour, every aspect of the individual’s life. Then, if you need to talk to the individuals with Autism and/ or his/ their families, you should pinpoint the areas in which they have strengths and the areas in which they need to improve. Not only will you be able to offer a much better informed solution (if that’s what’s needed), you may also make the families feel that they were listened to.

4. SHUT UP AND LISTEN!

As professionals, most of us are eager to offer advice. But having spoken to a lot of families over the years, what they appreciate is being listened to – genuinely and empathically. I advise you to take a step back and listen to what they are saying before speaking or making your mind. Clarify what you heard and don’t be afraid to ask questions to ensure that you truly understood what they meant.

5. No two individuals with Autism are the same

I know that you all may have read/ heard this before, but I want you to always keep this in mind. No matter how many people with Autism you have met, the next one would be completely different from the others. Never assume that you already know what to do. I suppose if you want to stay true to this advise, you would follow number 4.

Final comments

All of what I have said may not be a unique revelation to many of you. However, I feel like I owe it to the Autism community to remind you (and myself) of all of them. I know that we all want the best for the people we work with, which is why I am confident that the Autism community is in safe hands.

Please feel free to contact me and/ or leave comments if you wish to discuss anything further.

 

Towards an improved understanding and acceptance of Autism

Today’s Daily Prompt: What change, big or small, would you like your blog to make in the world?

not-a-disease

I want my blog to add to the growing sources of information about Autism. A lot of people with Autism are misunderstood since much of the popular beliefs about the condition is influenced by the media and out-dated studies. While a lot of these sources are correct and positive, they often fail to account for the differences between individuals with Autism.

Having worked with, taught and befriended people with Autism, I have become aware that Autism manifests differently. Each individual with Autism has his/ her own set of strengths and areas of needs that are unique to them. This reality tends to confuse people with little or no experience of Autism- ‘how can they have the same diagnosis but be completely different from each other?’ To be honest, I don’t know why this is the case. Nevertheless, what I found useful was to get to know each individual and respond to their needs and strengths accordingly.

By sharing my opinions, what I have read, listened to or watched, maybe I could increase people’s awareness, understanding and acceptance of Autism.