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January 2011



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First Published Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Sunset on the Ohio River

By: Lauren Ludlow

A new organization on campus wants to change people’s perceptions about a
behavioral condition that is often characterized as a debilitating illness.

The Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, co-chaired by Benzion Chinn, a Ph.D.
student in history, and Melanie Yergeau, a Ph.D. student in English, is
seeking to change misconceptions about autistic people.

Yergeau and Chinn formed the Ohio State chapter last winter, but had been
trying to get the organization off the ground since early fall. Both Yergeau
and Chinn have Asperger’s syndrome, which is a considered a
“high-functioning” type of autism.

“Autism is a mental state where the person turns inward and does not engage
in the sort of social behavior expected of normal people,” Chinn said.
“Autism is a spectrum ranging from people who are incapable of doing the day
to day tasks needed to care for themselves to people who are fully
functional, but have difficulties in social interactions. “

A big difference between ASAN and similar organizations is that it is a

“We’re an alternative organization. We’re especially concerned with
self-advocacy and issues of representation, and issues of speaking for
versus speaking as or speaking with,” Yergeau said.

Perhaps the group’s biggest break from the norm of other autism
organizations is its anti-cure stance.

“This stance tends to scare a lot of people. They tend to misinterpret it as
anti-assistance, anti-accommodation, anti-services, anti-medicine, and so
forth. It’s not,” Yergeau said. “Any service that seeks to eradicate autism
from an individual is not an OK service in my book.”

Yergeau hopes the organization will be a source of information for students
and faculty alike.

“We really want to start a dialogue, complicate people’s views of what
autism is, of who autistics are,” Yergeau said.

ASAN’s first meeting will be at 5:45 p.m. Thursday at at Barnes and Noble in
the South Campus Gateway. Students, faculty and community members are
welcome to attend.

Jason Cocca can be reached at ludlow.9@osu. edu. © Copyright 2009 The

ASAN: http://www.autistic advocacy. orgASAN-OSU:
http://asancentralo hio.blogspot. com/


Ari Ne’eman
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network
1660 L Street, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036
http://www.autistic advocacy. org

———— ——— ——— ——— ——— ——— –
Take a look at our innovative new Public Service Announcement produced with
the Dan Marino Foundation at http://www.nomyths. org

If you like what we do, help support the Autistic Self Advocacy Network by
making a donation at:
https://www. change.org/ donation/ create?charity_ id=211198

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