Dr. Allison N. Oliver and Ronald “RJ” Tucker III along with other members of Advocates for Autism stand together on Thursday, April 6 in the MUC. Photo by Makayla Blevins I The All State.

“As a friend, as a peer, as an advocate for change, your responsibility is to actively listen and advocate for those around you with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder),” said Dr. Allison N. Oliver,  Assistant Professor of Special Education.

Dr. Allison N. Oliver was the head speaker at Microaggression and Bias Within Autism, an autism forum hosted by Advocates for Autism on Thursday, April 6 in Morgan University Center Room 303-305.

Dr. Oliver urged others to advocate for themselves and to overcome the microaggression and bias experienced by autistic individuals. 

Dr. Oliver said, “We can debunk the stigma by modeling what we want. We shouldn’t allow people to engage in those behaviors because we don’t have the courage to speak up. One of the biggest things is to advocate for those who don’t have a voice.”

Dr. Oliver noted the importance of educating others and themselves about ASD.

Dr. Oliver provided some statistics, highlighting the importance of people’s need to understand ASD, saying, “One out of every thirty-six individuals have autism. I think it’s something that we need to be in depth about and be able to, as a community, understand it. We need to know more about what they need in order to be successful”

In addition to understanding Autism, Dr. Oliver encouraged educators to implement different tactics into their curriculum for students who have ASD.

Dr. Oliver said, “Get to know them. See what they need to be successful. Give them what they need and individualize their experience to make them successful.”

For those with Autism, support on campus is not inaccessible.

Dr. Oliver said, “We have disability services. We have academic support. We have Full Spectrum Learning, mostly importantly, that offers mentorship, offers different types of resources, professional development, and other tools that will help students succeed academically and socially. Students with autism, or students experiencing micro aggressive behaviors, need to feel that they are accepted here at APSU, and we want to make sure that everyone has the same experiences that are positive.”

In addition to Dr. Oliver’s lecture, sophomore, and English major, Ronald “RJ” Tucker III gave advice to people that may have someone they know in their life who has autism.

Tucker III said, “I’m just like anybody else. Just treat me like a person. Talk to me. Listen to me. See how I feel and how I want to do things.”

Tucker III followed with words of wisdom for young adults who are learning to navigate the world with autism.

“Use your gift and use it well,” said Tucker III.