Filed Under () by Estee on 19-11-2008
Estée Klar, founder and executive director of The Autism Acceptance Project (www.taaproject.com) is the mother of a son named Adam who lives with the autism label. She is a writer and a freelance curator of art (with degrees both in Fine Art History and Critical Disability Studies), currently engaged in doctoral study at York University in Critical Disability Studies. In the words of Longmore and Umansky: “the new academic field of disability studies has arisen in response to the medical model’s deficiencies in explaining or addressing the social marginalization and economic deprivation of many people with disabilities. Disability studies takes as its domain the intricate interaction among cultural values, social arrangements, public policy, and professional practice regarding ‘disability'” (in The New Disability History: American Perspectives, 2001, 12). Estée examines these social arrangements to help autistic people gain access, contribute to society, and be included as autistic people. Specifically in her research, she participates with people who possess the label of non-verbal autism. As part of The Autism Acceptance Project, which is an affiliate of The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), Estée engaged the autistic community on autistic culture and is working with the TAAP board and committees on position statements regarding Canadian policy and attitudes regarding autism at www.taaproject.com.
The purpose of TAAProject began in order to support autistic individuals to advocate for themselves and to stand alongside them in order that they receive the accommodations they need in order to contribute to society as they are. Two major events occurred as a result of this project including two exhibitions, a major lecture series and a CBC documentary titled “Positively Autistic.” It is a Canadian registered charity.
In order to support and enrich the autistic community, Estée discusses how we must view autism as a way of being. Estée continues to discuss this in her writing and her work on various boards and committees. She is also a teacher at York University. Her past board memberships have included, The Koffler Centre for the Arts, The Inclusion Committee (Itanu) of UJA, and The Autism National Committee (AutCOM).
Estée began her public speaking career when she noticed that autistic people were not being included in schools, places of employment, and most community programs. Digging deeper, she discovered that few, if any, autistic adults were included on autism or school, government or autism organization policy committees regarding autism education and supports. Knowing that her son was not the “misery,” “burden,” or “blight on society,” that certain “autism advocates” and media described autistic children to be, Estée launched into research and writing on disability rights and inclusion and spent time traveling across North America to meet autistic self-advocates and their families.
A Brief History of The Autism Acceptance Project:
In 2005, Estée curated Beyond Words: The Drawings of Jonathan Lerman at the Lonsdale Gallery in Toronto in order to raise positive awareness about autism and dispel many of the myths surrounding it. Due to it’s overwhelming success, Estée decided to incorporate The Autism Acceptance Project to both empower parents and autistic people, but also to lay a positive foundation of acceptance and supports for autistic people in schools and in the workplace. She has taken the initiative to a variety of other organizations. In 2006, she launched a Toronto lecture series at the Al Greene Theatre in downtown Toronto and another gallery exhibition that received world-wide media attention called: The Joy of Autism: Redefining Ability and Quality of Life.
Estée is also the author of journal articles on art and autism and contributing contributing author to Between Interruptions: Thirty Women Tell the Truth About Motherhood released by Key Porter Books in 2007. She wrote “The Mismeasure of Autism: The Basis of Current Autism ‘Advocacy’ for the book Concepts of Normality: The Autistic and Typical Spectrum by Wendy Lawson in 2008, and her piece The Soothing Sense of A, among articles on different subjects other than autism are in the works. She studied creative writing at The Humber School For Writers and The University of Toronto yet prior to her intensive interest in writing, she wrote regular columns regarding art from 1987-1995 after graduating from U of T in Fine Art History and working subsequently as a curator of art. She has since written for numerous magazines on autism as well as book reviews for various journals. Some of her papers are posted within this website. For information on upcoming talks and events, check the tab within this website.
She has also been keeping a weblog entitled The Joy of Autism (2005-2008) in support of Neurodiversity and dignity for autistic people which is now archived on this new website www.esteeklar.com in PDF format. She continues to write her blog where she discusses books, the writing process, autism and single parenting.
To contact her directly, please write, firstname.lastname@example.org.