Press Release: Autismo Girl
I’m an Autistic – self advocate in New Zealand. I run my own autistic self advocacy business, going around the country
presenting on my experience as an autistic individual as well as sitting on many reference groups and
boards/committee’s. I also spend endless hours online primarily on facebook in certain groups specific to Autism, where
families are going into crisis, usually this is because there is inadequate acceptance of the childs difference within
their school, and lack of funding to meet the growing demands of autistic individuals within the education system. Not
only this but also the lack of autistic specific training for staff at schools.
Tips for Autism which is jointly funded by the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education, only gives training for
teacher/staff that have children on the spectrum up to the age of 12 years old. Where is the autistic specific training
for high school teachers/staff.
I welcome Minister Hekia Parata’s announcement that seclusion rooms at schools will be made illegal under new laws.
However as I was listening to Minister Hekia Parata’s radio interview, I’m concerned that the autistic community has to
wait till next year till the seclusion rooms becomes illegal. This is very concerning to me as an autistic who myself,
at times has my fair share off sensory overloads, high anxiety, leading to some pretty intense meltdowns as a adult.
The New Zealand government has just recently signed the optional protocol of the United Nations Conventions on the
Rights of Persons with Disabilties (CRPD). So right at the moment, until Minister Hekia Parata gets through the changes
in the law to seclusion rooms being illegal in the education system. I’m highly concerned as to how many autistic
children and other neuro diverse children are still going to have their disabled and autistic rights violated against
them. Under the CRPD currently it is a major violation of rights.
I welcome the media release from Altogether Autism stating quite clearly to start using autistic friendly language in
order to respect autistic individuals. Time out is a word I would associate with being punished simply for having a
different wiring system. I got my fair share of being punished as a autistic child growing up in the education system,
and its very frustrating to know that my peers are still being punished for having a different wiring system.
I also support and welcome Autism NZ, of using the terminology of, sensory breaks and sensory rooms as a better option
to being put in time out. If the education system and schools adopt the sensory rooms concepts such as schools overseas
are doing currently. This helps autistic and other neuro diverse individuals to self modulate their sensory and anxiety
processing differences, by simply knowing there is a sensory safe room for them to go to, if need be.
My advice to Minister Hekia Parata, is to please rush through under a matter of urgency that seclusion rooms are
unlawful ASAP, like rush through it tomorrow. The government has rushed through other laws under a matter of urgency, so
I do believe that this is such a matter of urgency that seclusion rooms become unlawful and illegal as of today, because
they are already making a violation under the CRPD currently.
I ask this of the Minister of Education to please consult with Autistic self advocates including autistic children, as
well as our families around implementing autistic specific strategies to help with our neuro diverse needs.
Autistic Self Advocate