Jeanne Clifton has over a decade of experience in education ranging from classroom teaching to one-on-one support. She is currently the reading & study skills coordinator for the TRIO SSS program at Salem State University, a federal grant supporting first-generation/low-income students and students with disabilities. She holds master's degrees in both teaching and English, and is a licensed high school teacher.
As an autistic adult, she is also a supporter of the neurodiversity movement - believing that we should acknowledge the different ways our brains work and provide supports as needed, but not stigmatize differences as being lesser or “wrong.” Growing up with an autistic brother who was classified as non-verbal and considered to have an IQ unable to be measured gave her an insight into how many existing evaluation tools fail to acknowledge the different ways autistics may communicate. Additionally, she has a joint disorder that creates limitations around walking, stairs, and standing and frequently requires the use of mobility aids such as crutches, a cane, or a wheelchair. As such, disability advocacy is a passion, especially as it relates to education and mental health access.
A frequent motto of the disability movement is “nothing about us without us,” because historically people with disabilities, especially those with neurological differences, have often been left out of the conversations about their own marginalization. As a disabled educator, Jeanne works to bridge the gap between how the autistic and disabled experience is viewed and understood primarily from an outsider’s perspective in the education and mental health fields versus the direct knowledge gained from lived experience in those communities.