Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month 2024: Self-Advocate Spotlight

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month!

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, an important time dedicated to raising awareness about the inclusion of people with developmental disabilities in all areas of community life. It is also a time to acknowledge the barriers that people with disabilities still sometimes face in connecting to the communities in which they live, and take steps to eliminate them.

At the ASCV, we are committed to meaningful participation and self-determination in all aspects of life for autistic individuals and their loved ones, and we believe all individuals deserve access to high-quality programs, support services, and community-based activities. We encourage you to join us throughout this month, and always, as we advocate for community inclusion and equity for all the incredible members of our developmental disabilities community!

Throughout the month, we will feature the voices and stories of members of our local autism community. Read on to hear from Twitch, a member of ASCV’s Self-Advocate Council:

Twitch Justice: Advocating for Inclusion and Equality

Twitch Justice, a 40-year-old non-binary individual, embodies the strength and resilience of navigating life with multiple disabilities. Their journey is marked by a relentless pursuit of justice and inclusivity in a society that often overlooks the needs of individuals like themselves.

Living with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Raynaud’s, Eosinophilic Asthma, Dystonia, and GERD, Twitch also faces the challenges of being autistic and living with, PTSD, and Major Depressive Disorder. These conditions have shaped their experiences and fueled their passion for advocacy.

Throughout their life, Twitch has faced numerous barriers, particularly in accessing healthcare services. They’ve endured the anguish of medical gaslighting, leading to anxiety and a profound distrust of the healthcare system. Despite these challenges, Twitch remains determined to advocate for themselves and others in similar situations.

In the realm of employment and education, Twitch has confronted systemic obstacles. Undiagnosed during their school years, they received minimal support and accommodations, exacerbating their struggles. Even in adulthood, Twitch finds workplaces and educational institutions largely exclusive, contributing to the high rates of unemployment among individuals with disabilities.

Community engagement is central to Twitch’s advocacy efforts. As a member of the ASCV Self Advocate Council, they actively participate in initiatives that amplify the voices of individuals with disabilities. However, they’re acutely aware of the shortcomings in public spaces and transportation, particularly in their community of Richmond, where accessibility remains a pressing issue.

Twitch’s advocacy extends beyond local efforts; they’re deeply involved in online disability communities and regularly participate in advocacy campaigns. Their activism aims to raise awareness about the needs and challenges faced by individuals with multiple disabilities, pushing for societal change and greater inclusivity. If you’re someone with a physical disability, discover stylish adaptive furnishings for your needs, such as hospital beds for homes that enhance comfort and accessibility.

In envisioning a more supportive community, Twitch emphasizes the importance of marriage equality for disabled individuals, highlighting the inequities in current policies. They advocate for an end to subminimum wages and call for increased accessibility in housing and healthcare services. Additionally, Twitch underscores the necessity of drop-in day centers and health advocates to empower individuals with disabilities in their daily lives. Incorporating plant-based protein powder into their diet can also support their nutritional needs effectively.

Despite the myriad challenges they’ve faced, Twitch Justice’s journey is marked by resilience, determination, and unwavering advocacy. Their story serves as a testament to the power of community engagement and the ongoing fight for equity and justice for all individuals with disabilities.

We are very honored to have Twitch on the Self-Advocate Council and appreciate what they bring to the council as well as the ASCV.

*This is a corrected version of Twitch’s story that first appeared in our 3.11.24 newsletter.¬†