Image description: The title of the blog post, “Imperfections of A Self-Advocate,” in a light lavender font, which is inside a white box with a cutout frame. Above the title is the name of the blog, The Autistic Chronicles in white font. The background is light lavender.
I was completing errands the week before the spring semester started. Meeting one of my college’s disability services counselors was one of them. During the meeting, we had reviewed my accommodations contract. While reviewing it, we discussed my accommodations into further detail when I mentioned that there was a moment I was uncomfortable to speak up.
Last semester, I was taking Intro to Geology. It was my first science class that I took in three years. My professor was strict and he set the usual rules such as not talking during lecture and respecting others whenever you leave the classroom. However, there was one rule I was hesitant about: No cell phones during class.
Now, this rule makes sense because sometimes, I get distracted when I see someone’s phone. Nevertheless, hesitation still occurred. One of the approved accommodations I can use is to record lectures. I usually record lectures on my phone with an app. What made me scared to speak up was an incident where one of my classmates was using his phone and my professor called him out during lecture.
“Dude! Calm down. It’s just a f*cking phone.” The classmate said
The exchange was extremely heated that my professor said, “Get out of my classroom. You’re not allowed here anymore.”
That incident caused me to feel uncomfortable to speak up in regards to this particular accommodation. I had disclosed to the counselor about my geology professor’s personality but I did not mention the incident between my former classmate and my professor.
“Why didn’t you tell us? You’re like the picture of self-advocacy.” She exclaimed in shock.
“It is a [work in] progress.”
“Well, we’re here to help you if you need assistance.”
I knew she meant well. She wanted me to make sure I am comfortable talking to my professors about my accommodations. However, I could not stop shaking off what she said:
“You’re like the picture of self-advocacy.”
As I kept replaying her words in my head, I realized this: I do not nor ever will claim that I am the perfect self-advocate.
I say this because it’s only been over two years since I first learned how to self-advocate. Had I been taught earlier to self-advocate, there would have been a possibility that I would not be in that particular situation.
I will not lie. I still have insecurities whenever I advocate for myself. I have reason to believe so because I am still young. I still have a lot of growing up to do and I need gain more experience.
Yes, I love self-advocacy. It’s amazing! It’s a passion and it’s a way of life. Rather than being perceived as a “perfect” self-advocate, I would call myself an imperfect self-advocate. And you know what? I am completely fine with that.