Thursday, December 2, 2010

Empowering Autistic People With Their Own Voice

“The Autistic Paradigm – from the inside out™"
Special Guest Blogger Leonora Gregory-Collura, Author, Co-founder and President of the Naturally Autistic® ANCA® organization celebrating 15 years!

The Autistic Paradigm – from the inside out

ANCA® is unique in that it understands the autistic mind from the “inside out”. All support staff are autistic and understand autism through both self-examination and extensive work with clients and can speak to the success of the ANCA® approach and “The Autistic Paradigm.”

When we started our Naturally Autistic® ANCA® journey, I had one particular question in my mind and that was "how was it that our son Anthony did not demonstrate inappropriate behaviours?‟ and associating to that question was "why was Anthony naturally sociable?‟

Over the course of the years that followed, I soon learned what separated the autistic child from the child with autism. For myself and the many autistic people and families we have served at ANCA, the autistic paradigm became the key to this understanding.

Upon launching ANCA, we felt it necessary to meet with young and mature autistic adults, to get a sense of each of our respective experiential history. I learned that the human condition is complex and not as simple as labeling. The personal underlying experiences would hold many answers as I found out from the group we were supporting.

We examined our lives and created four themes which later would become the foundation for our training program “The Autistic Paradigm – from the Inside Out”. Those four themes, Communication, Environment, Structure and Individuation, is how we approach all of our programs and services from our Educational Workshops & Professional Training Programs, Playworks program, the Autistic Developmental Support Systems program, the ANCA® Groups, Consultations, annual group events and the ANCA® Plan.

So, how does ANCA® define the Autistic Paradigm?
ANCA® focuses on “how” the autistic mind processes information – a mental/cognitive processing map that is unique and distinct to all autistic people – children, teens and adults.

By understanding the communications process that autistic people naturally have to work with and supporting this unique, inherent process, inappropriate behaviors dissipate. These behaviors are often a form of communication in an effort for the autistic individual to communicate and express themselves.

Mya Fortin, an ANCA parent for over 12 years expresses how this worked for her during a television interview in 2000. She stated “Look at your child as just a child. He’s a human being. Accept your child and don’t try to mold him into what our society thinks is “normal”.

I took my own journey of self-reflection and discovery and really looked deep inside of me to understand how I process. When I found out, actually, how I processed, then I was able to understand how Cole processes. When I understood how Cole processes, then I could understand how to support him.”

“Leonora provides us with the knowledge to understand our children and she gives us the tools and the skills to support that our children know themselves. That is the key thing. When Cole becomes an adult, I want him to be able to understand how his sensory system works. I want him to be able to understand how his brain processes information so that ultimately he can be Cole and not just rely on rote responses.”

Cole successfully graduated from High School with a leadership award, scholarship and bursary to attend College in January 2011. He has had various jobs during High School and is currently working, saving up his money for when he starts College. Cole continues to attend ANCA® Group and events and is beginning his own journey of self discovery as an adult.

To hear and see the whole interview, join ANCA's FREE Community website at and click “Media tab” to view this interview and to hear Mya‟s understanding and application of the "Autistic Paradigm – from the Inside Out‟.

ANCA® was founded in 1995 by Charlie Collura and Leonora Gregory-Collura. The organization values compassion, understanding and diversity. The company is driven by a desire to help children and their families grow and develop together naturally. As well, Charlie and I formed the ANCA® Foundation in 1998 to provide additional support through information, education and public awareness through annual conferences, camp-outs and cultural events.

“I feel very confident to recommend ANCA Consulting Inc. As a member of the Early Childhood Educators Community, I am very excited that an opportunity exists to promote a shared understanding between parents and professionals that recognizes each child’s uniqueness and our need to honor their diversity.”
– Patricia Hilton, Pre-school teacher, North Vancouver, BC, Canada.

“Learning about autism from autistic people, I can’t think of a better way to learn.” – Teachers and support staff, Langley School District, Langley, BC, Canada.

Combined with 15 years of documented success in providing support, ANCA® has worked
with hundreds of autistic individuals and their families. Our organization has put on numerous workshops, training and speaking engagements throughout North America to audiences including community living associations/societies, school districts and clinical professionals. Reaching over 2,000 people with our teachings, Charlie and I, together, have over 50 years experience working in the field of special needs and autism.

“It helped me understand why some of the kids I work with, do the things they do.” – North Shore District, Resource Center, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

What I liked about the workshop: “The insights into thought processes and the normalizing of autism…” – Teachers and support staff, Langley School District, Langley, BC, Canada.

“…We were challenged in a kind way to rethink misconceptions we may have had.” – Applied Psychology Group, Surrey, BC, Canada.

ANCA®’s mission is to support the natural development of autistic people by providing education and training to autistic individuals, their families, and the community at large.

ANCA®’s Philosophy - ANCA® values compassion, understanding and diversity. The company is driven by a desire to help autistic children and their families grow and develop together, naturally - Naturally Autistic®.

Everyone processes differently and has a unique contribution to make to society

Learning to understand one another is the key to effective communication

Service to others makes the world a better place

What people are saying about ANCA®

“Has provided a framework for engaging thoughts/information; has given me language to explain gut feelings.” – High School Teacher

“Thought provoking, paradigm shifting, belief challenging program for the benefit of all students. I’ve learned to work from where the students are and not from where someone else thinks they should be. It’s their journey so we should never impose our path.” – High School Teacher

“I feel I have a much better understanding of how an autistic person thinks and feels. This will be valuable when I am working with autistic people – on a basic level I will give an autistic person more time to respond. I will try to appreciate the number of “gears” that come into play as an autistic person tries to process information and respond. This helps me to better understand how to communicate with an autistic person” – Educator

“Meeting autistic adults for the first time. Finding out their perceptions of health care professionals and their needs when meeting new people and going to a new place for the first time. All this helps me plan how to make autistic children comfortable. I feel that I have a much better understanding of what autism is. I admire and respect the members of ANCA for being so open and direct about their experiences” – Health Professional



speaking engagements:

consulting services and programs:

To view more about our work
visit the naturallyautistic youtube channel.

Naturally Autistic People Awards slide show

ANCA “Year in Review”

This article is contributed to the Mackay Autism Support Group, Hope Online magazine and the Sunshine Coast BC Canada Community Fan Page, December 2010 by Leonora Gregory-Collura on behalf of Naturally Autistic® ANCA®.

Naturally Autistic® ANCA®
P.O. Box 1658, Gibsons, B.C.,
V0N 1V0, Canada

Thank you so much to Leonora for her guest article. Mostly though, thank you Leonora for taking your insights from growing up with autism yourself to help empower autistic children to grow up with a voice and more independence in their own lives. Truly beautiful! Well done.... Duane


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