By Karen Wolf-Branigin
Director, Autism NOW Center

July 4, 2013 is Independence Day in America. We commemorate our nation’s freedom as a new country with fireworks, parades, and barbeques. Back in 1776, people living in the 13 colonies and their leaders voiced multiple and different visions of what an independent country meant to them. As self-advocates and family-advocates what does independence mean to you?

Autism Now Resources
The Autism Now Center has a number of resources related to independence. What better way to commemorate the Fourth of July than by celebrating our right to vote? The Autism NOW webinar Voting and Youth! will inspire you to exercise these very important rights.

If you are unfamiliar with the independent living movement, we invite you to read about it on our “In the Community” webpage.

The Autism NOW Center’s June 2012 webinar, “Apps that Can Make a Difference and Why”  includes several recommendations on how to use technology to live a more independent life.

Autism Pride: What are we learning from others?
Here is a story about a young man named Michael, who through perseverance and support, is enjoying an independent life. Learn about the steps he took to accomplish his dreams.

Perhaps one of the most famous people to give advice about living with Autism is Dr. Temple Grandin. Her recollections on her own education contain a timeline describing her experiences including her completion of a Ph.D.

And for a more personal story, read what Kyle Moriarty has to say about how he gains independence through cooking.

What does the research tell us?
Researchers Hong, Yarosh, Kim, Abowd, and Arriaga investigated the degree to which a social networking system could reduce barriers to independence and over-reliance on caregivers by young adults on the spectrum. Their article, Investigating the Use of Circles in Social Networks to Support Independence of Individuals with Autism answers that question for the people who participated in the study.

What can we learn from you?
Please join the Autism Now Center by engaging in our social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube) and submitting blogs for publication. We’d be delighted to include your stories, photographs and videos about your own independence.

Enjoy the Fourth of July in 2013 by celebrating your own independence or taking some steps to realize your dreams.

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