An Interview with 2021 Keynote Alix Generous
Posted on 07/07/21 in Milestones Conference by Milestones
Milestones Autism Resources was honored to present two women on the spectrum as our 2021 conference keynotes this summer. On June 17th, mental health champion and TED Talk sensation Alix Generous joined us to share her valuable perspective in three virtual sessions focused on diving deeper into common challenges faced by individuals on the spectrum and how to effectively support one another in these challenges.
Below, Alix shares a bit more of her story and helpful advice for individuals and their families.
If you missed this year's event, you can still catch the conference on-demand through August 15th! Registration information can be found here.
Can you describe what led to your diagnosis and how it has helped you understand your strengths and challenges?
A series of unfortunate stays at mental hospitals led to my diagnosis. It has helped me understand what my strengths are and how to go about addressing my challenges. If I didn’t have the correct diagnosis, then I would be looking at the wrong tools.
What strategies have you found to help you achieve your goals? What was most helpful?
The most important tool to healing is having an open mind and being willing to adjust to feedback. It’s important to be very honest with yourself as you go through processes such as therapy or growth, or self-improvement, whatever it looks like.
What is your advice for parents?
I think it’s important for parents to have therapy and support as well, not just necessarily for their child. I think it’s important to be mindful about how one’s behavior affects one’s children and look at it in a very critical way. I think it’s important for parents to prioritize their child’s wants and needs before their own. This is because they chose to have a child the child didn’t choose to be born and is reliant on you to become independent.
What do you wish people understood more about ASD?
What I wish people understood about ASD is that the diagnosis has a very dark history. The Asperger’s diagnosis was created by a Nazi scientist. Autistic people have been abused in institutions for decades and even now, not all treatment is created equal. There are a lot of civil rights issues that autistic people encounter. It is also important to note that autism can’t be cured and that shouldn’t be the narrative we tell ourselves about what autism is. We need to look at the child and their individual strengths and challenges and create a path to growth that addresses those.
I think it’s also important for parents to teach their kid about their diagnosis and their disability so that they can learn to advocate for themselves. ASD also has a lot of comorbidities and different attachment styles associated with different developmental backgrounds of patients with ASD that are important to be mindful of when getting treatment.
What motivates you to be a mental health activist and what do you wish people understood about mental health?
The only thing that motivates me to be a mental health activist are my own experiences of being treated poorly by people, specifically providers and institutions, or by people in general. The experiences I had as a child motivate me to try to prevent that sort of abuse from happening to other people. It is important to note that autism isn’t a mental illness, it’s a developmental disability. However, it is relatively common for autism to be comorbid with mental illnesses such as major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, PTSD etc.
What should our community know about females on the spectrum?
Females are less likely to be diagnosed for autism spectrum disorder and are less likely to receive services than their male counterparts. It is also important to note that there is a diverse range of genders within autism, not just female and male.
What is your general advice for autistic self-advocates?
Never stop working on your own communication skills and self-discovery. Make sure to take care of yourself as much as you can.
Do you have suggestions for autistic individuals who have ideas for a career or how they might use their special interests to create something they might make into a business or service?
I recommend people read books, attend conferences, workshops, and research other people who have taken similar career paths and have been successful. Build tangible skills within that business or service and know when to delegate your responsibilities as a business owner to other people. Figure out a way to organize yourself efficiently and work smarter, not necessarily longer.