Home / Centering Lived Experience

What is Centering Lived Experience?

The SPHARC team strongly believes in the guiding principle in the disability community of “Nothing about us, without us.” As such, SPHARC is very committed to promoting messages around autism acceptance by focusing on sharing positive, respectful, accurate information about autism and Autistic people and is supporting the co-creation of an “Autistic Faculty” to carry out this commitment.

How does SPHARC center lived experience?

Autism Acceptance Month is one example of how SPHARC seeks to always infuse Autistic voices in its work. During Autism Acceptance Month 2021, SPHARC sought to elevate and prioritize lived experience through a series of events that bridged the gap between research and lived experience. Through co-creating a coffee talk series with autistic advocacy organizations and individuals with lived experience, SPHARC learned together with autistic advocates on how to create connections between people with disabilities, their families, and researchers and providers.

The Autistic Faculty is another way that SPHARC centers lived experience. The vision of the Autistic Faculty is to always involve autistic voices in the creation of SPHARC programs, events, media, and other materials. The goal is to co-design programs, activities, and events with autistic people. All of SPHARC’s 2023 Autism Acceptance Month activities were co-designed with the Autistic Faculty.

Coming Soon! Revamped SPHARC Story Wall featuring people with lived experience sharing their stories of navigating systems of care

A screenshot from SPHARC's 2023 virtual fireside chat includes photos of the five presenters/moderators, their names, and roles/titles.

This image is a screenshot from SPHARC’s 2023 Autism Acceptance Month Virtual Fireside Chat that was moderated by the Autistic Faculty and featured two guest Autistic presenters.

The State Public Health Autism Resource Center is looking for Autistic people who want to share about what celebrating Autistic joy means to them. This can include what autism looks like to you, your strengths, special interests, and passions. Learn more about this opportunity at: https://bit.ly/AutisticJoy2023. A rainbow-colored infinity symbol represents neurodiversity; the logos of the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs and the State Public Health Autism Resource Center show that they are sponsors of the opportunity.NEW! SPHARC will feature “Celebrating Autistic Joy” content on our website and social media YEAR ROUND

  • We want to hear from you about what it means to celebrate Autistic joy. You can share what autism looks like to you, your strengths, special interests, and passions. Submissions can be a video, audio file, written words, or art. SPHARC will highlight these submissions on our SPHARC website and social media.
  • This idea of celebrating autistic joy is not meant to negate or minimize any of the difficulties and challenges Autistic people face. Instead, it is meant to shift the perspectives and beliefs of providers that care for Autistic people, anyone that works in the autism and developmental disabilities field, and the general public so that they see that Autistic people are more than just their challenges. That is why SPHARC and the Autistic Faculty created this space for lifting up positive experiences for any Autistic people that want to share them.
  • Learn more about this opportunity and how to submit at: https://bit.ly/AutisticJoy2023

     “Celebrating Autistic Joy” submissions

    SPHARC is excited to share the following submissions received so far through the Celebrating Autistic Joy opportunity: a poem by Hari Srinivasan and artwork from Heidi Lieb-Williams.

    Autistic Joy – Hari Srinivasan

    Be Supported to Joy
    Be supported to joy, is what we need
    Empowerment & Solutions, the seed.
    For happiness, our hearts will plead.
    True want in life, to live in joy.
    Can we autistics wake up to Joy…
    …every single day of our lives?

    Unconventional Intelligence
    An spectrum computer, to be exact
    Like lines of code, flawlessly extract
    Atypical network, unique way of thought
    Algorithms and patterns, precision wrought

    All in the Course of Human Events….
    All in the course of Human Events
    Open your eyes… look within… see the possibilities
    The result…. a better human(e) society


    Artwork by Heidi Lieb-Williams

    A young woman with pigtails wears a purple dress and fairy-like wings that are made out of rainbow color puzzle pieces. She sits next to a blue zebra with rainbow color strips. Above them it says                                           The word                                           A lion's head is drawn on top of yellow, orange, red, and brown puzzle pieces. Above it reads