Reflections on advocacy and activism and why we need both

I attended an exhibition yesterday which was called ‘Activism’. I was actually included in it as part of a photo installation caked ‘Redefining Leadership’ which featured six community leaders who are part of the Canberra Disabled community. The other exhibits were taken from a number of political campaigns in the ACT. The Aboriginal Tent Embassy was there and the protests against the arms industry expos in the late 1980s-early 1990s. There were lots of campaigns for gender equity and against war. A journalist was recording people’s stories and asked me to talk about autism advocacy. She remarked on how passionate I was and I guess I am passionate.

I know a bit about activism. In 1989, as the Berlin wall came down and people in former communist countries overthrow their Soviet oppressors, I decided to be a socialist. I was not the sort of socialist who looked to Russia. I was a Trotskyist. We figured that communism had never really happened and what was going on in Russia, China and Eastern  Europe was a sort of state sponsored capitalism with a focus on military expansion rather than selling commodities. We were pretty passionate about our views. I went to every protest you could think of. The funny thing was that I actually wasn’t a socialist – not deep down anyway. My membership of the International Socialists was based in a need for belonging and acceptance rather than any need to overthrow capitalism. I enjoyed protests because they were the only place I could articulate and express my emotions but the ideas of revolutionary socialism for me were just a means to connect with other human beings. Unlike at school where bullies hated me whatever I did and  could never ‘get it right’, the socialists accepted me if  agreed with their views. It was easy.

Because I wasn’t actually a socialist I didn’t stick around for too long and got involved in other ‘cultures’ as I got older. I thought activism was a bit silly and likely to lead to legal problems and antagonising others. I let it go for several years and didn’t really miss it.

In 2012 this changed. I met a young autistic man who was completely disabled by others’ low expectations of him. He had left school very young and never reengaged with education. When I told him I was an autistic public servant who had written (at that stage) one book, he told me I was lying. And in his world I understand that it wasn’t possible to be those things. I felt like this man had been done over by a world that assumed he would be unable to do much due to his autism. I realised there must be more than one person in this predicament and I decided I needed to do something to give autistic young people confidence and pride in themselves to counter this issue. Within a year I had written a new book aimed at autistic teens and given a TEDx talk. I became driven and engaged and wanted to make a difference.

I always called myself an advocate rather than an activist. Activism – as I saw it – was hard line and shouty and while a necessary thing, was not a thing which I did. As time want on I found that line between advocacy and activism in my work blurring. Some of the people I respect highly fit into that activist category. I have done things in recent years which are clearly activism. I am definitely not a socialist but I think there is a strong activism element to my work. 

We need advocates and we need activists. As I see it advocates influence decision makers and support change and activists highlight areas which need to change and put pressure on those in authority to make that change. These are both essential functions. I firmly believe that we need to continue with our efforts to change things for the better around autism. This stuff is not static. It is not the case that we can stand back and hope things improve. Everything is up for grabs in this space all the time. We need to continue to work to make change or those who want damaging things – the anti vaxers, proponents of ‘therapies’ that are harmful, ableists and eugenicists – will be empowered and things will get much worse for us.  

I was with a friend last night at the Activism show who is one of three generations of activists. Many of her activist ‘aunties’ were there. It was wonderful to see the exhibition through the lens of their perspectives. I wondered if that would be me in 30 years, reflecting on the difference I have made alongside my autistic advocate and activist colleagues. That would make me very happy.


Will autistic people save the world?

I have been thinking about something  lately which I will unpack here.

There is a saying which is sometimes a bit patronising but sometimes sincere which is that autistic people have ‘superpowers.’ It is true that autistic people  tend to have skills and strengths in a number of very useful areas. We are often great pattern thinkers, able to make connections between things that others miss. We are often very good at spotting discrepancies and errors in material others thought was OK. We tend to have incredible focus and the capacity to devote years or a lifetime to looking at a particular subject. We are often curious and question things. All in all these and many other things we tend to do well add up to some very useful things in the modern world. Maybe they go beyond the school or workplace and into addressing broader issues.

The other thing we have going for us in the world-saving stakes is numbers. I am not saying that there are more autistic people now than in the past but we are identified and identifying a lot more than in the past due to a greater understanding of what autism is among clinicians and autistic people. There is not so much an autism epidemic as an autism discovery. These numbers alone might not be helpful in addressing the worries of the world but something is combined with these greater numbers and that is a sense of identity and pride.

We live in a world where the stigma and hatred we have faced seemingly forever is being challenged by autistic people and genuine allies. We are increasingly out loud and proud and if the efforts of advocates continue this will hopefully get even stronger. In the past we were seen as weird, isolated on the sidelines but this is changing.

We need only to look at the example being set by so many public figures who have recently embraced their autism, people with influence across the board. I am constantly reminded of autistic teen climate activist Greta Thunberg who is leading and inspiring a huge global movement. I don’t think it would have been possible for my teen self to even contemplate doing such a thing given I only had negative views about myself after bullying and invalidation, but Greta is far from alone in the area of teen and tween autistic advocates and activists. I know dozens of amazing autistic kids and teens who have grown up being told they matter, being validated and encouraged and the results speak for themselves. Just look at Summer with her Chickens to Love business or Cadence from I Am Cadence. This generation is I think the first where there has been a background of the neurodiversity movement influencing thinking along with autistic-run organisations encouraging and supporting kids and some shifts in thinking among many parents, educators and service providers. I see our future as being led by these empowered kids and young adults.

Put together this all seems to me to be a formidable recipe for change and growth. The world’s issues can be seen as intractable and unsolvable but I have hope that autistic people, who employers often credit for solving impossible problems in the workplace, can use our very real ‘powers’ to make the world a better place and work to solve some of the supposedly impossible issues. I don’t know if we will but I really hope that autistic people will change the world. In fact I would argue we already are and have been doing so for some time. Into the future I see this continuing and increasing. Far from us being attacked and seen as an epidemic, maybe we will in fact be a panacea for a world desperately in need of what we have to offer.


Too nice – A personal journey through the ‘fawn’ response 

Content warning: Bullying and violence

I recently read an article about Pathological Demand Avoidance (or PDA) and autism from the perspective  of a parent who had done a lot of research to inform how they supported their child. It was a very interesting piece and I learned a new thing in it – the ‘fawn’ response. I have known about fight and flight as a response to threats for years and about the freeze response for a few less years but the fawn response was a new one on me. And it is a new piece of thinking which strongly resonated with my experience. 

I have never done the fight response when under threat and rarely the flight one. I do the freeze one on occasion but I think up until recently at least, the fawn response has been my go to response to being threatened. The fawn response basically means a person tries to be pleasing to the thing – usually a person – threatening them. I think of it as the ‘too nice’ response whereby you placate the person posing the threat in order to (hopefully) escape unharmed.

When I was younger I did it all the time. I was afraid of confrontation as well as actual threats like violence and bullying. What I did was try to make myself as appealing as possible to the person threatening me. I think my subconscious figured if they liked me they would be less likely to damage me. Sadly it didn’t work like that and just resulted in me being seen as a complete victim and yes, indeed it led to me probably being victimised more than if I had used any of the other three responses to threat.

I hated that I became too nice when threatened. I felt like I had ‘victim’ written on my forehead in large red letters. I spent a significant period of time in prisons and locked psych wards in my early twenties. I was never physically assaulted in all that time. Not because I was scary myself, quite the opposite. I just ingratiated myself to every single person who I felt threatened by (i.e. everyone in there). I was absolutely terrified every minute of every day though.  I learned how all the aggressive women liked their cuppa so they would appreciate my thoughtfulness. Most of my meagre pay went on cigarettes – not for me but for everyone else! While I may have added some years to my life from not smoking the cigarettes I bought, this approach especially came at the cost of my sense of self.

I was so keen to avoid threats by being nice that my sense of who I was was steadily eaten away. When I decided to change my life for the better when I was 25 I had no idea of who I was. The masking and being pathologically nice over the preceding years had left me with no idea of who I actually was.  I did spend many years under constant threat. In prison your life is always at risk and things can change instantaneously in terms of relationships with fellow prisoners. As an autist who was noticeably ‘different’ and struggled to read facial expressions and other non-verbal cues, it was a very frightening place indeed.

The interesting thing is that in recent years I have stopped using the fawn response as a default. I remember being at an event a few years ago and there was a woman in attendance who I had distanced myself from as I found her threatening and we had a disagreement which has revealed her unpleasant side to me. She came up to me at lunch in front of several other people and demanded to speak to me. In an award-winning performance of assertiveness and limit-setting I said to her “You are a toxic person and I do not wish to speak with you.’ She walked off and I haven’t seen or heard of her since. When I said those words I was in fight, flight, freeze, fawn mode as it was pretty stressful and there was a risk of her being verbally aggressive. I don’t know which response I did – maybe fight? Not sure but it certainly wasn’t fawning. 

I have become assertive and this impacts on how I respond when under pressure. I think my danger now is that I am possibly too assertive and set limits to strictly but I am aware of this so try to take that into consideration. For someone who felt like they had ‘victim’ written on their head for many years I can only conclude that this is a good problem to have! 

I do think a lot of other autistic people have the fawn response as their default setting. I imagine it is influenced by some of things a lot of us experience – bullying and abuse and other invalidations. It could be seen as a safer response than fight, flight or freeze but if that becomes the default setting people can end up like I did not knowing who they are and being taken advantage of and victimised. The key for me was building my self-worth and my confidence. This did take some years but it is nice to be in a situation where I know if I am threatened or in a confrontation I am more likely to be able to control the situation and respond in a way which doesn’t result in me being further taken advantage of.

I wish I didn’t need to write this post. I hate that there are some people in the world who see a vulnerable person and think of ways to attack them. I hate that I was victimised for many years and that so many of my autistic siblings are still being victimised. I would never blame the victim for the abuse and bullying. I do know from my experience it is possible to respond to threatening situations with assertiveness and confidence. I wish that understanding for everyone as I know it makes life less frightening. 

I used to say learning assertiveness was impossible and you either were or weren't assertive. I have learned that is incorrect. You can learn assertiveness but it may be quite a long process. IT is definitely worth i

The charlatan industry – against scaremongering about autism 

A couple of weeks ago autistic advocate Louis Brunel stood up at a conference and made a clear and powerful statement against the father of anti-vax, Andrew Wakefield, who used to be Dr Andrew Wakefield but was deregistered as a doctor after publishing a paper linking autism to vaccines using incorrect ‘evidence’ and then manufacturing a ‘movement’. Louis Brunel became my instant hero for doing this and it got me thinking about the issues with fear-mongering about autism.

Wakefield sparked off a whole load of pseudo scientific nonsense which fed existing negative views and is extremely damaging to autistic people and those who love and care for us. I want to unpack these views and their associated ‘movement’. I wish I didn’t have too but tragically this stuff still carries weight among many of the population.

The first myth I want to bust is that of the ‘autism epidemic’. I am definitely not the first person to do this. The idea of autism as an ‘epidemic’ revolves around lot of meaningless correlation of statistics. Correlation does not equal causation as any first year PhD candidate could tell you but this hasn’t stopped this myth taking hold. Apparently the MMR vaccine and a growth in autism diagnoses were related to each other. You could just as easily connect the decline in people using cassette tapes with increases in autism rates if both occurred at the same time but correlation and causation are entirely different things. Something happening at the same time doesn’t mean one causes the other. Sensible researchers and Autistic advocates and our allies have more reasonably seen the increase in autism diagnoses as being the result of greater awareness of autism by clinicians and the public leading to higher rates of diagnosis. The idea of an ‘epidemic’ is in itself highly problematic. Firstly autism isn’t a disease. You cannot ‘catch autism’. And the negativity inherent in talking about epidemics is all extremely problematic and extremely disrespectful to autistic people. This kind of fear-mongering hurts autistic people and does not help anyone. Mental illness diagnosis rates have increased dramatically in recent years as well but there is no ‘movement’ saying what a tragedy this is and finding some spurious reason for it. Lifetime prevalence of mental illness in Australia is one in two people. That is way more than the one in 70 or so who are autistic but nobody is going around scare-mongering about that!

In terms of evidence, anti-vax has been disproven hundreds of times by reputable studies. Despite this it still holds sway with some people. It has been consistently refuted by genuine scientific researchers in peer reviewed studies over the years. There is no real scientific evidence that vaccines have anything to do with autism but it persists. The very fact I am writing this is testament to the influence it has.

At its heart all of this problematic thinking has a view that autism is a tragedy and autistic people have no worthwhile views or thoughts. It goes to eugenics and has spawned a number of other ‘movements’ including the ‘bleach enemas cure autism’ horror. It goes against everything I believe and promote as an Autistic advocate. On my social media I am pretty open to different views but anti-vax viewpoints will result in me removing that person from my social media. I feel like the views are the enemy of autistic people and attack anything positive. They drag the whole discussion into an unhelpful place where advocates need to justify our existence and we have been doing that for a long time and it is not a good thing.

The other major issue with these views is that they influence people new to the world of autism. Parents of a newly diagnosed child might be exposed to this thinking and it will colour their view of their child. I often view these issues as being like a war between reason and misinformation. It is sadly not a struggle we can give up because if we do then we lose ground and more people are influenced by this awful, harmful, negative thinking. It is dangerous. I recently unfriended a Facebook follower who said they thought Wakefield might have answers to their questions. He doesn’t have any useful answers, just scaremongering and hatred. We need to stand up to this stuff where we can. I am thinking this article may well result in some trolling as the anti-vaxers are pretty vocal in silencing criticism but I am doing this because I feel I need to. Addressing this stuff in any way we can is going to be helpful. I am inspired by Louis Brunel’s speech. I don’t think I could be that brave to face Wakefield and challenge him but I can write this. When I said I was going to write this post one of my Facebook family, Ian W, said “Fear is not moving us forward… Hope is.” Which to me is a fitting summary of this post and of the work which needs doing in this area. 


Hard fought and won: What autistic pride means to me

Content warning: Bullying 

I was diagnosed as autistic in 1994 when I was 20 years old. I was not a person who found their Autistic tribe instantly or even quickly. I hated the diagnosis and could not associate it with me. Well, outwardly at least. Living as an undiagnosed autistic in a world where there was no appropriate diagnosis (Aspergers was only included in the DSM IV which was released in 1994 – the year I was diagnosed). This means i went through school feeling completely alone and isolated. In high school I was the constant target of every bully in the place. The bus ride to and from school was even worse with the only adult preoccupied with safely driving the bus and playing his country music cassettes. School for me was like the book Lord fo the Flies. It never occurred to me to not attend school so for six years I was bullied and invalidated every single day and often several times a day. 

One of the most frequent taunts was that I had an intellectual disability (well they didn’t use that language but you can imagine). While I was fascinated by autism and felt a connection with the one diagnosed autistic boy at my school, I never wanted to apply the autism diagnosis to myself. When I gained the diagnosis as a young adult I hated it for two reasons. The first was that I felt it was an excuse my parents could make for my poor behaviour at the time. But the main reason why I struggled with the ‘label’ was that I knew it was true and my understanding of it at the time was that it validated everything the bullies had said. I was filled with self-loathing and at the time, the autism diagnosis just confirmed my worst fears about myself. I set about being in deep denial for the next seven years. I would feel highly anxious to even hear the world ‘autism.’

The point at which I finally accepted my autism was when I was in first year at university. I had started to turn my life around and make some positive changes, one of which was enrolling in university. I discovered for the first time ever that people at university liked me for who I was, not because I was a member of a group. I had spent my teenage and early adult years desperately trying to fit in and belong. I thought that the best way to do this was to align myself with a group with set rules and just follow all the rules. I and been a fundamentalist Christian, a revolutionary socialist and a criminal, all with the intent to be accepted. It worked but nobody liked me for who I was, just because I agreed with their ‘rules’. At university I realised i wasn’t a member of any defined group but I had friends. Coupled with this I had an episode of mental illness which necessitated some soul-searching and reflection on my part. While doing this the thought of autism arose again and this time I thought ‘maybe this is me.’ 

You might think I suddenly embraced my autistic identity and wrote a book or something but I didn’t. My acceptance of my autism was gradual and incremental. For the first couple of years I would view it as something to be spoken about very cautiously, l as if telling people would result in them running me out of town! I would only tell people I really trusted. I wasn’t ashamed to be autistic, just scared of reprisals and bullying,

I went on for a few years not being particularly ‘out’ and then I met someone who changed everything – autistic author and advocate Polly Samuel / Donna Williams. I met Polly at a course and we instantly hit it off. Polly told me I should write my life story. She said it would be helpful for parents of autistic kids who get in trouble with the police and have addiction issues. She said this group was ostracised in parent circles. Almost immediately I made the connection that my book would be for my own parents so I wrote it. It was published and all of a sudden I had to be ‘out’ to everyone about my autism. I made the transition well and was soon speaking at events and giving media interviews about autism. It was quite challenging at first but I worked into it. I remember being terrified I would not be able to answer questions at presentations so set about learning more about autism beyond my own experience.

I still didn’t instantly ‘find my tribe’ though. That took a couple more years. It happened when I was at a conference for autistic women and girls. I was in a  room full of 100 autistic women other gender diverse autistic people and I knew I had come home. It was magic and I have never looked back. I found my Autistic Pride that day and it was a great realisation. 

These days I live and breathe advocacy and Autistic pride. My passionate interest is autism advocacy and I spend a lot of time talking to people about autism. Autistic pride is imbued my every interaction. Sometimes people contact me and are almost apologetic that they are having difficulty embracing their autism. I have no judgement and know that the road to pride is sometimes hard fought and won. Sometimes it is a long journey to Autistic pride but it is a very worthwhile journey to take. Every day of being proud of who I am has been a gift. After the start to life I had where I was invalidated and hated and treated like I had no right to exist, to be able to say ‘I am Autistic and Proud’ is a pretty amazing thing. We live in a world which often makes it hard to feel proud to be Autistic. Pride can make such a difference and mean the difference between masking and trying to hide who we are and accepting, loving and valuing ourselves. Your sense of pride helps others too. Get your pride on I say. It makes life better and Autistic people deserve to be proud of who we are. 


‘Why do I have to ‘sell myself?” – Autism and recruitment

I am a full-time employee in a professional job. I have been for over 12 years. I have been promoted twice and have worked in a  number of responsible roles. This should not really be unusual – person gets job and keeps it for many years. Not really a headline but for someone who belongs to the various demographic groups that I do this is an amazing and unlikely thing. Like so many other autistic employees I am dedicated and professional and enjoy my job. Sadly a lot of autistic people do not get to share their skills and knowledge in a work context despite having a great deal to offer employers. This does not really relate to their level of skills but to a range of issues around employment which make it extremely hard for us to succeed at work.

One of the most difficult elements of work for autistic people is actually navigating the labyrinth of recruitment process – applications, CVs, interviews. These things can make it almost impossible for autistic people to find work.

We are so often disadvantaged in recruitment as autistic people but when we belong to additional diversity-type groups we face a compounded level of disadvantage. For example if an applicant is from a cultural background which is discriminated against they will face disadvantage for that which happens on top of the disadvantage they face as an autistic person. Add more ‘differences’ and that disadvantage is further compounded, making it almost impossible for many to secure a job. 

The CV might seem like an innocuous enough recruitment process but it can be extremely fraught for autistic applicants. They might have gaps in their work history. While recruiters shouldn’t be influenced in their decision by CV gaps it is often the case that they are. Many autistic people join the workforce at older ages than others meaning their resume may contain very little or no work history. It is so much harder to join the workforce at an older age and to be up against candidates who are more experienced, even if the autistic applicant is highly capable. Some autistic people struggle with that notion of selling themselves. While an allistic person with similar experience would spice up their resume and make their experience sound more impressive than it is, an autistic applicant might play down their strengths in their resume.

Another major challenge for autistic people is the job interview. Job interviews actually don’t tell an employer much about a candidate’s capability. I think interviews are good at two things – demonstrating if someone is good at job interviews and demonstrating if someone is a confident extrovert. In terms of actually demonstrating whether a person can do the job an interview is often not very helpful. Despite this, interviews are pretty much standard in recruitment processes. Autistic people may find the interview processes highly stressful. They may also have sensory issues with a panel of people talking to them at once and lighting and other issues in the room where the interview is held making it almost impossible for the applicant to even get their bearings let alone give a good performance. Autistic people might come across as ‘odd’ or different and may be discriminated against because of this.

It is often the case that recruiters have some degree of unconscious bias in their decisions. They may employ people who look and act like then. This may be a reason that there are companies with a low balance of genders and where almost everyone is white and from an English-speaking background. There probably wasn’t a directive at these firms to hire white men but interview panels may experience bias and hire those who look like them and have similar experiences. This issue can work against autistic job seekers and people from other groups too.

Many autism and employment programs now exist. They often use alternative measures to determine suitability for a position. Interviews are often replaced with activities over a period of time designed to show how proficient the applicants are at doing elements of the job itself.

I actually think that the kinds of recruitment methods which benefit autistic people benefit everyone. They are helpful to employers as they allow for more time and opportunity for candidates to demonstrate their actual suitability for the role. And they are beneficial to neurotypical candidates as well. It is not only those of us on the autism spectrum who get extremely stressed in interviews or have gaps in our CVs. This is one of those areas where autistic people are a bit like the canary in the mine – things that disadvantage us may also disadvantage others, even if others are not consciously aware fo this.

I am very fortunate / lucky / blessed to have my amazing job. I managed to navigate the recruitment processes which enabled me to do this but so many of my autistic peers have not been so fortunate. This is a wasted potential for society and a very unpleasant and frustrating situation for autistic people who are denied the opportunity to work just because selling themselves doesn’t come naturally or they struggle with job interviews. Everyone should have a similar opportunity to the ones I have.


Autistic employees often bring a load of skills and strengths to the workplace An autistic employee may be loyal, diligent focussed and may solve apparently 'unsolvable' problems

Autistic: A culture 

A while back I had a realisation based on gatherings of autistic people at conferences and other events. There is usually a ‘quiet room’ at such events where people – most often autistic people – can go if things are getting to be too much. Often lunchtimes and breaks at events find the quiet room full of autistic people. I have been told all my life that autistic people don’t ‘do’ socialising and communication, that we have deficits and gaps in these areas. However, this has not been my experience when groups of autistic people get together. I noticed at conferences that autistic people were anything but lacking in social skills. We tend to socialise with each other easily. If a lone allistic person entered the quiet room it was them who lacked social skills, them who had deficits in communication.

This made me think firstly that autistic people aren’t doing anything wrong, we are just doing things differently. I moved from there to imagining that Autistic was a language and neurotypical was a language too. The issue here was that few people realised that Autistic was a valid language. If you imagine you are speaking French and someone else is speaking German. Then imagine that you are unaware there are any languages other than French. Your firmly believe that the way you speak is the only way to communicate. How would you react to someone speaking German? You would probably think they were really bad at communication despite the fact that they are fluent in a different language. This seems to me to be one of the main issues of being Autistic in the neurotypical world. It isn’t just that we speak a different language, it is the fact that our language is not considered valid and many people are unaware there even are languages other than neurotypical.

Autistic being viewed as a culture opens many doors to understanding  Autistic experience – and about being Autistic in the predominantly allistic world we live in. We are expats in a  strange land, migrants in a foreign country. What do migrants and expats seek out? Their compatriots. This is also true for Autistics – we talk of ‘finding our tribe’. Being around members of our ‘tribe’ enables us to speak freely and be ourselves, to communicate with the customs and language which come naturally to us. I have seen this countless times with Autistic kids meeting another Autistic for the first time and in my own personal experience too.

While I am on the topic of culture I want to also talk about power dynamics and imbalances. If Autistic is a culture them it is not generally a culture afforded the same respect as allistic culture. If anything we are an an oppressed minority. Our culture is rarely recognised. Autistic people even feel they have to mask and learn the customs of the majority and do not embrace their own culture. We are on the receiving end of prejudice and hate and sometimes we feel and seem invisible. One way to address this is through promoting and embodying Autistic pride.

Part of Autistic pride is about owning and promoting our Autistic culture and countering views that we are all the awful things that people say we are. We need pride. It counters the negative thinking, deficits focus and assumptions of incompetence which so frequently are levelled at us. Pride is inclusive of all neurodivergent people as well. I don’t want cliques or statements on online groups saying ‘only Asperger’s accepted’. I really struggle when people in our community do that separatist thing and say ‘don’t lump me in with those autistics’ and imply that they have more right to be heard than others due to some unhelpful functioning label.

I was at a conference once where I followed a speaker with very poor autism politics. Cures were mentioned. I was so horrified by what she said that I had to listen to music for much of her talk. When I got up to give my presentation I started with ‘I am a proud autistic person. I do not socialise wrongly, I socialise differently…’ and went on to represent for Autistic pride. It is important to counter such statements, both for anyone observing the problematic thinking but also for ourselves. When we state our pride it has an impact on others but possibly even more so on ourselves. I’m for more pride and more liberation. Autistic is a valid culture. I’m happy to teach interested allistics the language and some useful phrases. I just hope they are willing to learn as I have been taking lessons in speaking allistic for forty-four years and I think its about timely efforts were reciprocated!