Monday, June 3, 2013

Black Voices: Author LaVonnya Gardner

LaVonnya Gardner is a powerful voice for autism. She is a contributing writer to Autism Now, a speaker on autism and aac, an autism mom, and an overall great person I was happy to meet online. I love her vlog on youtube, so I thought I would share that as well. One note about language. This is LaVonnya's voice, and it was important to me to make it clear she is typing this on her own and is quite a capable woman of color. Therefore I did not edit the content. Gentle people, in her own words, the amazing LaVonnya Gardner speaking.

LaVonnya resplendent in Red at the NFB
MY NAME IS LAVONNYA. I am an autistic adult, who uses my iPad to communicate. For as long as i can remember, I was bullied, by staff and students, at the school that i went to.  i am still bullied, part of it is do to misinformation about autism. This is not to say that misinformation was the only reason. some bully me for fun. they take an, I know everything stance. and when things don't work as they want, somehow, it's my fault when people don't understand me,, they tend to make up stuff about me, rather than asking me. which is plain stupid. given the fact that we are put in therapy when we don't ask questions people also love to gossip about me, weather i am there or not. and insist that I can control my autism, and that i want attention. screw the fact that, i try my best to keep what I am GOIN through to myself.  they pay that no mind. adults are the worst. even after admitting that they know nothing about autism. while i was and am still bullied, i think that some of it has to do with me not giving a hamburger about what others want me to do. when it comes to changing me bullying doesn't stop just  because we become adults am I afraid of interacting with people? yes I am. and here's why.
first, i am not given a fair chance at most relationships. most of the time, i am miss understood, then acused of things i not only didn't do, but most of the time, i have no clue what is going on. something else that happens is, I am told to say what is on my mind, but when I do, I am told to stop putting myself down, or told that I have low self esteem, or that I must be depressed. and we must not forget , people who meet me first, and dump me when they find better friends. the other thing is that, people will talk to me when they are board, an lonely and they can' get to their real friends or are in a fight with them. so, i just do things on my own, rather then wait for others to have time for me. or for them to think that I'm enough of a real person to include me. i like people. they  just treat me like they don't want anything to do with me, if they cannot control me. as if i am just an object. I love going on you tube, and seeing all of the autistic adults, talking about autism because, non autistics can learn more from autistic people then they can from people who are not. and autistic people Learn best from each other. i also like going to these to peer to peer groups. but I am the only one who uses other methods of communicating. their are others like me. i would love to meet some of them. this way i can Succeed socially for a change. one of the things i learned at group is that, autism has more Symptoms than i knew. on the higher end of the spectrum, they can read body language, and faces. and there is no way i can.  i can only look at a person's lips so that I can read them.  Also, my attention span is too short to even look at a person that long. other things that you might think about are, that , just because an autistic adult may use other methods of communication, doesn't mean that we need to be verbal. there is nothing wrong with our communication. another thing is, just because we might be able to do some things  sometimes does not mean that it will always work that way. words are more like incomprehensible sounds to me. i also only hear in 1 ear. that makes things really interesting, at times. on the phone, i use a few methods. just as i do in person. on the  phone, i use a t t y, video relay, clear caption, i p relay, and when I am calm, sometimes i can call without any of it, but then i understand very little. in person, i use my iPad, Dynavox, flash cards, sign language, or some combination. i would never want to be changed. i am happy just the way i am. autism is not a Disease.. it will not kill me. i live on my own, and do just fine. I spin, jump, flap my hands, rock, use sign language, and my i'pad, to communicate, cover my ears when it is too loud, shut my eyes when it is too bright, ware what won't freak me out, don't touch things that will, stay away from foods, and smells that will make me barf, and live life. i have learned to explain my autism to people, in comprehensable ways. i know what i can do, what i cannot do, as well as what needs to be adapted, or where i will need help. I can do this because, i got to know myself. getting to know ourselves, is the only way we will be able to speek up for ourselves. on the  phone, i use a t t y, video relay, clear caption, i p relay, and when I am calm, sometimes i can call without any of it, but then i understand very little.


This is part of a series of posts in protest of John Elder Robison's "The Myth of the Black Aspergian" two part article, in which Mr. Robison engages in speculation on the existence of people of color with Asperger's Syndrome, and further implies disturbing reasons as to why they do not seem prominent or vocal in the community. They are here with strong voices,  Mr. Robison is just not listening. 


  1. How about simple introducing her as an Author? unless of course she specifically asked that she be identified by her culture. If we in the Autism Spectrum Global Community ever expects to forever abolish stigma, Myths and Lies about Autism it has to start with Us. We can do that with removing ALL Labels, Qualifiers! Just introduce her a A LaVonnya Gardner, a Wonderful New Artist. It will be a given she is autistic as it it will e coming from you or another autistic spectrum person, as a announcement. .... I realy do ot like identifying myself other than, Hey, it's Me, because I am neither Black or African-American or a Woman of Color ..... I Am Me and that' as far as it should go. What I Do is Write, Sing, Dance, Sketch, Program, Design, Create, Advocate, SPEAK. It is not Who I Am. I Am Simply and Plainly Me, named Patricia

  2. Patrica, LaVonnya was asked to be part of a series called :"Black Voices" in response to a two part article by John Elder Robison called "The Myth of the Black Aspergian" that implied that a racial component rendered African Americans unlikely to have Aspergers, more likely to have intellectual disablity, and further inferring that those who did were more likely in prison because Mr. Robison had not seen any attending his book signings and conference speaking engagements. That is what the title is for. And while Rev. Jesse Jackson saw fit to declare that we preferred to be called African American, I disagree with his declaration for many reasons. Among them I have friends who like LaVonnya could be described as "African America" because they are first generation immigrants from Africa. Then there are individuals like me, who remember when we proudly took the name Black for ourselves and do not identify as "Africans of the diaspora". The reason articles like The Myth of the Black Aspergian emerge is that blogging with a person first mentality leaves the dominant group blogging on Autism appearing to be the only voices out there who have authority on the topic of autism. Our cultural issues, and our voices disappear, because we are so busy saying "I'm just me." If I should ask you to be part of this project, which I doubt you would accept, I would do so to show you are proud of your entire heritage including your race, not to single you out or put you on display. I hope that was clear.