The A Collective emerged from Estee’s artistic/curatorial work and also the founding of the original Autism Acceptance Project in 2006. In that project, she organized Toronto’s Joy of Autism: Redefining Ability and Quality of Life exhibition and lecture series with autistic presenters and artists.
Although Adam’s growth was a life of exclusion, Estee continuously advocated for the right to a personal assistant and communication access in schools, which included access to supported typing. When Adam finally obtained this access in one school, it shut down. There was no other choice to obtain education in Toronto, Canada, as non-speaking autistic people in their city are typically segregated to autism programs without access to education. Estee also noted that curriculum is fashioned for neurotypical learners who can perform stillness to learn better than most autistics.
This lead Estee and Adam to research creative schools and the unschooling movement and they formed The A School to develop creative and community learning opportunities. Subsequently, the notion of “school” became antithetical to study and learning as it represents a restrictive, exclusive system and also, bank-deposit style education. This way of school is hierarchical rather than creative and communal.
The A Collective has since emerged to be a place for sharing, leisure, study and relationship. We attract educators and others wishing to support learning while also learning themselves. This also includes learning about how to support autistic agency and supported typing, to learning together about how a collective emerges on his own and from wtihin. The A Collective has also a youth group that meets regularly. This is not a program. The group is supported to make collective decisions about what they wish to do or learn.
In the meantime, while The A Collective is a big part of our lives, and we continue to study together about how a collective can shift the way people live and learn, Adam was accepted to a wonderful high school in downtown Toronto that accepts his personal assistants, his communication needs as access, and Adam as a neurodiverse person.