Why I Marched in the Women’s March on Portland Today

image of Niko in blue jacket, black gloves and hat holding a sign that reads "Autistic & proud."SOMETHING I SHOULD GET OFF MY CHEST: INITIALLY, I THOUGHT TRUMP WAS AMUSING. HE WAS THIS MANIACAL, TINY-HANDED EGOCENTRIC FOOL WHO WAS IN IT AS SOME SORT OF DARE THAT HE COULDN’T GET OUT OF. THEN HE WON THE ELECTION, HARDLY, AS A MATTER OF FACT, WITHOUT A GOOD UNDERSTANDING OF THE DISABILITY COMMUNITY. THE MINI-TYRANT WON, LEAVING MILLIONS FEELING HOPELESS.
THAT IS WHY I WANTED TO MARCH. VERY LITTLE ATTENTION WAS GIVEN TO THE DISABILITY COMMUNITY DURING THE ELECTION, AND WE ARE NOW FACING THE BIGGEST THREAT TO OUR FREEDOM AS WE KNOW IT. WE NEED TO BE TELLING OUR STORIES OVER AND OVER SO THAT WE ARE NOT FORGOTTEN.
YOU ONLY SEEM TO THINK OF OUR RIGHTS WHEN YOU READ SOMETHING IN THE PAPER OR READ ABOUT IT IN YOUR NEWSFEED. NOTHING WOULD PROTECT US BETTER THAN NON-DISABLED PEOPLE SEEING OUR VALUE AND CONTRIBUTION TO SOCIETY. WHAT WOULD SAVE US FROM TRUMP’S HISTORICAL DISDAIN WOULD BE IF PEOPLE BELIEVED IN INCLUSION AND INSISTED THAT PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES WERE VALUED MEMBERS OF THEIR COMMUNITY. YOU CAN KEEP OUR RIGHTS INTACT FOR THE NEXT FOUR YEARS.
= WHY I MARCH TODAY =
TO MAKE PEOPLE SEE US.
TO MAKE US VISIBLE.
TO MAKE OUR VOICES HEARD.
TO MAKE THE WORLD A KINDER PLACE.
TO SHOW THAT WE WILL NOT TAKE SHIT FOR BEING DIFFERENT.
image of people dressed warmly in the cold rain holding protest signs MARCHING ALONGSIDE MY MOM AND MY SISTER WAS THE BEST WAY TO SHOW MY SUPPORT FOR THE WOMEN WHO HAVE MADE ME THE MAN I AM BECOMING. HOW THEY HAVE CHANGED MY LIFE, STOPPING AT NOTHING TO GET WHAT I NEED! NOW THAT I HAVE A VOICE, I CAN TELL THEM HOW MUCH I LOVE THEM. SOMEDAY SOON I WILL BE MORE INDEPENDENT, AND I WILL TOW THEM BEHIND *ME* FOR A CHANGE. UNTIL THAT DAY, WE WORK FOR *ALL* OUR RIGHTS AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
@WomenMarchPDX

Letter to the Editors of “The Oregonian”

DEAR OREGONIAN,

THE REASON I TOOK PART IN TODAY’S WALKOUT WAS BECAUSE I MEANT TO BE THERE ON BEHALF OF STUDENTS WHO ARE DISABLED. WE ARE NOT INCLUDED IN THE VISION OF TRUMP’S AMERICA. MANY PEOPLE WANT TO SEE THIS COUNTRY BECOME GREAT AGAIN. WHAT ARE THEY EXPECTING FROM A MAN WHO DOES NOT PRETEND TO CARE ABOUT ANYONE WHO IS NOT WHITE AND RICH? REALLY, CAN WE EXPECT TO BE INCLUDED IN ANY DEBATES ABOUT WHAT PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES CAN ACHIEVE WITH TRUMP? I SINCERELY DO NOT BELIEVE HE CARES. FOR THAT REASON I PROTESTED TODAY, AND I WILL CONTINUE TO VOICE MY OPINION IN ANY WAY I CAN. PLEASE DO NOT DISPARAGE YOUNG PEOPLE’S PASSION; WE WILL BE VOTING IN FOUR YEARS. PLEASE BE PATIENT WITH US AS WE CUT OUR POLITICAL TEETH.

SINCERELY,

NIKO BOSKOVIC
NORTH PORTLAND

The Trump Win

REALLY HARD TO PROCESS THE ELECTION RESULTS RIGHT NOW. YOU MIGHT THINK I WOULD HAVE MORE TO SAY, BUT IN FACT I AM TOO UPSET ABOUT WHAT A TRUMP PRESIDENCY WILL DO TO MY MUSLIM BROTHERS AND SISTERS, TO MY GAY FRIENDS, TO MY SISTER AND OTHER YOUNG GIRLS, TO ANYONE WHO WANTS TO LIVE WITHOUT FEAR, TO THINK ABOUT MYSELF.

WHERE IS THE LOVE? WHERE IS THE TOLERANCE THAT MOVES US FORWARD AS A COUNTRY? WE HAVE TAKEN A GIANT STEP BACKWARDS, AND WILL FIND SOLACE IN WHAT WILL BE RESUMED IN FOUR YEARS. I EXPECT THE WORK WILL CONSUME A GREAT DEAL MORE TIME TO FIX THAN IT WILL TAKE TRUMP TO DESTROY.

Comments on ABA Therapy

In preparing for a psychology assignment on behaviorists, Niko read the following article and had some thoughts about his own experience with ABA.

https://spectrumnews.org/features/deep-dive/controversy-autisms-common-therapy/

I AGREE WITH THERE BEING A MIDDLE GROUND FOR ABA. IN MY EXPERIENCE, IT HELPED ME MAKE SENSE OF THE WORLD AROUND ME. IT WAS SOMETHING THAT WAS FUN. I HATED WHEN I WAS TOLD TO QUIET MY HANDS.

SOMETIMES, HOWEVER, MY INSTINCT WAS TO HAVE A MAD FACE OR PROTEST HAVING TO DO SOMETHING. MOSTLY I JUST WANTED TO PLAY. THIS MEANT CUTTING PAPER AND SPRINKLING IT ON THE FLOOR.

LATER ON I GOT BORED WITH ABA, AND WAS SO RELIEVED WHEN YOU SWITCHED TO REALLY OPENING YOURSELVES UP TO PLAYING ON MY TERMS. IT WAS A TURNING POINT FOR ME. KNOWING HOW I INTERACTED WITH OTHERS, IT MADE A TREMENDOUS DIFFERENCE WHEN YOU STARTED ACCEPTING ME AS AN AUTISTIC PERSON. WHEN THIS HAPPENED, IT WAS LIKE YOU THOUGHT OF ME AS SOMEONE WITH SOMETHING TO CONTRIBUTE. I THINK ONLY PEOPLE WHO HAD ABA KNOW WHAT THAT FEELS LIKE.

Motivation

WP_20160629_09_15_14_Pro

SO MUCH OF WRITING DIDN’T SATISFY THE DESIRE I FEEL FOR SAYING WHAT IS ON MY MIND. SOMETHING THAT I ENJOY WOULD BE HAVING THE INDEPENDENCE TO EXPRESS MY OPINION WITHOUT HAVING TO RELY ON OTHER PEOPLE. FOR EXAMPLE, I WOULD LOVE TO HAVE A CONVERSATION WITH A GIRL WITHOUT WAITING FOR AN ADULT TO HELP ME.

EVERYTHING I AM DOING IS FOR THE PURPOSE OF GAINING THE SKILLS TO BE JUDGED ON THE MERITS OF MY WORDS. FOR EXAMPLE, WHEN YOU OR STORMY SUPPORT ME, I JUST EXPECT SOMEONE TO DISAGREE WITH THE ANSWER. REALLY, I DO. YOU WOULD THINK BY NOW THEY BELIEVE THAT I AM THE ONE TALKING.

MY REVOLUTION

disability_activism_9k-not-being-able-to-speakTHE REVOLUTION I WANT TO START IS FOR THE INCLUSION OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES IN EVERY REALM OF SOCIETY. THERE IS A GAPING HOLE OF REPRESENTATION SHOWING US TAKING PART IN THE NORMAL, DAY-TO-DAY ACTIVITIES THAT EVERYONE TAKES FOR GRANTED. VERY FEW PEOPLE LIKE ME EVER MAKE IT TO GENERAL EDUCATION CLASSROOMS.

RIGHT NOW, I WOULD IDENTIFY AS SOMEONE WHO LEANS TO THE LEFT FAVORING SANDERS’ IDEAS AS GOALS TO WORK TOWARDS. THERE ARE VALUES IN HIS CAMPAIGN THAT FIT CLOSELY WITH MY REVOLUTION. GIVEN THAT PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES HAVE TRADITIONALLY BEEN EXCLUDED FROM POLITICS, I FIND HIS CAMPAIGN TO BE FILLED WITH REVOLUTIONARY IDEAS THAT WILL BENEFIT PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES. YET THERE ARE NO PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES PROMINENTLY FEATURED ON HIS CAMPAIGN. WITH THIS IN MIND, MY REVOLUTION WILL BE CALLED “THE DISABLED UNDERCLASS GETS BERNED.” IT WILL ENERGIZE THOSE OF US WHO WANT TO FIND OUR PLACE IN SOCIETY WHILE HAVING A MIGHTY APPEARANCE OF THE BACKING OF BERNIE SANDERS SUPPORTERS.

THERE ARE MANY FACTORS THAT HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO THE REVOLUTION I AM PROPOSING. I DON’T NEED TO REMIND EVERYONE THAT I WAS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE HERE. THERE WERE TOO MANY REASONS WHY I COULDN’T BE SUPPORTED GOING TO SCHOOL. BUT I UNDERSTOOD WHY I NEEDED TO BE HERE: TO MAKE A PATH FOR OTHERS. I REALIZE THAT I HAVE A PURPOSE. THIS IS THE SAME SENTIMENT SHARED BY OTHER REVOLUTIONARIES LEADERS. A WIDE RANGE OF THEM ALWAYS BELIEVED IN THEIR CAUSE: MEN WHO CARRIED THE BURDEN OF THEIR BELIEFS ALONE. IT WAS WHEN THOSE IDEAS SPREAD AND FOUND SUPPORT AMONG MORE PEOPLE THAT THE SEEDS OF REVOLUTION TOOK ROOT.

THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND TO MY REVOLUTION INCLUDES ALL THOSE PEOPLE WHO NEVER HAD THE CHANCE TO LIVE THEIR LIVES IN AN INDEPENDENT WAY. THESE GROUPS SPAN ETHNIC IDENTITY AND RACE, GENDER AND WEALTH, AGE AND ABILITY. HOWEVER, SOMETHING UNITES US – OUR OPPRESSIVE STATE. WE HAVE BEEN SECOND CLASS CITIZENS SINCE WE WERE BORN. HEAVY IN MY HEART ARE THOSE WHO LANGUISHED IN INSTITUTIONS ALL THEIR LIVES. THEY KNEW THEY WERE PEOPLE WHOSE RIGHTS HAD BEEN TAKEN AWAY FROM THEM. FREEING MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS FROM THIS POWERLESS STATE IS THE SOLE PURPOSE OF MY REVOLUTION.

SOMEHOW WORD WILL GET OUT TO THE RIGHT PEOPLE. DEFINITELY, WE WILL USE THE INTERNET TO ATTRACT PEOPLE WHO ARE PRIVATE ABOUT THEIR DISABILITY. IT IS ALSO THE PREFERRED HOME FOR AUTISTICS. WE WILL HAVE ALLIES READY TO CHEER US ON. THESE ALLIES WILL INCLUDE FAMILIES, TEACHERS, AND LOVED ONES. BUT THEY WILL NOT BE IN CHARGE – THE PEOPLE LEADING THE REVOLUTION WILL BE THOSE OF US WHO LIVE WITH SIGNIFICANT DISABILITIES.

REVOLUTION IS NOT EASY OR GLAMOROUS. SO MUCH OF IT HARDLY RELATES TO THE MARCHES AND PUBLIC PROTESTS THAT WE SEE IN HISTORICAL FOOTAGE. RATHER, IT IS ALL ABOUT BACK ROOM NEGOTIATIONS AND FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES. THEREFORE, WE NEED TO ORGANIZE OURSELVES INTO A POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE AND RAISE MONEY TO ELECT POLITICIANS WHO WILL SUPPORT OUR AGENDA.
WHETHER YOU ARE LETTING THE SYSTEM CARE FOR YOU OR THERE ARE PEOPLE IN YOUR LIFE WHO CARE FOR YOU, THE END RESULT IS THE SAME – YOU DESERVE THE RIGHT TO BE INCLUDED IN SCHOOL, IN YOUR COMMUNITY, AND IN ALL DECISIONS RELATED TO YOUR INDEPENDENCE. THIS IS THE UTOPIA THIS REVOLUTION WILL BRING ABOUT.

THE REVOLUTION BEGINS TODAY! TODAY WE DEMAND THAT OUR RIGHTS ARE EQUAL TO THE RIGHTS OF EVERYONE ELSE. TODAY WE DEMAND THAT YOUR GREAT MOVEMENT OF EQUALITY THAT WAS BORN IN THE FIFTIES WIDEN ITS SCOPE TO INCLUDE PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES. IT IS NOT ENOUGH TO VOICE YOUR OPINIONS – WE NEED YOUR ACTIVE SUPPORT. AFTER ALL, WE ARE YOUR CHILDREN, YOUR FRIENDS, AND YOUR FELLOW HUMANS. USE YOUR TIME ON EARTH TO MAKE IT A BETTER PLACE.

 

PROM

WP_20160528_22_05_02_ProV__965A
LAST NIGHT WAS ONE OF THE ABSOLUTELY BEST NIGHTS OF MY LIFE. REALLY TRULY, ONE OF THE BEST. WHETHER IT WAS THE LOUD MUSIC OR THE SWIRLING LIGHTS, THERE WAS NOT A SINGLE MOMENT WHEN I WANTED TO LEAVE. THE HIGH SCHOOL WANTED TO MAKE IT A NIGHT TO REMEMBER, AND THEY SUCCEEDED.
WHAT WAS THE VERY BEST PART WAS ALL THE TIME I GOT TO SPEND WITH TONI AND KIYAH. THEY ARE THE SWEETEST GIRLS I KNOW, AND THEY MADE THE NIGHT SPECIAL. RAPID PROMPTING METHOD DID NOT PREPARE ME FOR TALKING TO PRETTY GIRLS! THAT COMES NATURALLY.
WP_20160528_18_31_17_ProMY SUIT JACKET WAS SURPRISINGLY COMFORTABLE. IT WAS WEIRD TO WEAR A BOW TIE, BUT I LIKED THE WAY IT LOOKED. HOWEVER, IT WAS GREAT TO BE A PART OF THAT EXPERIENCE.