A young Salmon Arm man’s ideas on self-advocacy for those with autism will be broadcast around the world in the form of a TED Talk.
Brody Butts, who is studying science at Thompson Rivers University (TRU), will be speaking at the TEDx TRU conference on Saturday, March 9.
Butts’ talk will deal with the ways he has advocated for himself during his educational career in order to access services that allow him to achieve his full potential. He said he will also detail how self-advocacy can play a role in other people’s lives, particularly those who are on the autism spectrum.
“Being a young adult with autism, I’ve gone through middle school and high school with my diagnosis,” Butts said.
Through resources such as a speech-language pathologist and learning resource teachers at school, Butts learned ways to advocate for himself.
Butts said he knew university would be a lot different than high school. He has found he doesn’t have to deal with the negativity he experienced from some other students in high school, but when it comes to classes there are still challenges to be overcome.
Butts said without advocating for himself with TRU’s accessibility staff he wouldn’t be able to perform academically at the level he does.
“I sometimes need a little bit of extra time to do handwritten assignments. For my tests and exams TRU has an alternate setting, a testing centre, so when I need that extra time I’m able to go in there and get that extra time that I need to actually finish my exams,” he said.
Butts has sensory processing disorder which causes him to write very slowly by hand. He said he has to press very hard into the paper when writing.
“It actually sends pain up my arm to the extent that I have to take a long time and stop writing. If I push too hard and I’m writing for a long time sometimes it can take me 10 to 20 minutes in order to regain that strength in my writing hand,”
Butts said by advocating for himself, he can get extensions for quizzes and exams which allow him to show his professors what he is truly capable of.
After completing his undergrad, Butts hopes to go to med school. He thinks the public speaking experience he is getting through TEDx will be a valuable asset in his career.
“Public speaking has become a really big part of me when before it was something that I thought I could never do,” Butts said.
He said he used to fidget and get anxious when speaking in public but by pushing himself he has improved.
Butts feels speaking at TEDx TRU is both a great opportunity for him and a chance to empower others in the autistic community.
All of the TEDx TRU talks will be broadcast on TEDx’s website and Youtube channel.