Self Advocacy Resource and Technical Assistance Center (SARTAC) has chosen seven fellows from across the country, based on the policy or leadership project they wanted to do to help the self advocacy movement. 

Our own board chair Ashley Mathy was chosen as a fellow to work on her book about self-advocacy. The book is titled, From Head Down to Chin Up: A Young Woman’s Journey with Autism and how Bullying Built her Success. People First Wisconsin is her host organization for the fellowship. Ashley responds to her fellowship award and talks about her book below. Congrats Ashley!

“I really wanted people to be more aware of invisible disabilities and the struggle of it, and also the greatness that can come. I had people say I wouldn’t amount to anything and could only do volunteer jobs. But I just wanted to show that people with disabilities can have a job as an advocate or be self-employed. Its about finding the job they will be good at and what brings out what is positive about them.

I have a lot of qualities like honesty and kindness that can be job skills. They can be great skills for my job as a peer mentor. I would never have thought I could sit on the Board as the chair because that’s what people told me all my life. So we really need to embrace everyone’s differences and include everyone. It’s so important to make people feel welcome.

That’s why I embody inclusion is because I was bullied and I don’t wany anyone to ever be bullied. I really embody diversity, equity and inclusion to welcome everyone and to learn from others. Those are all things I want to share in my book.”