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Policy Center

ASAN engages in a wide array of policy advocacy and systems change advocacy to ensure that the Autistic community is represented whenever autism is discussed in the halls of power. Our policy center produces reports and briefings on issues of public policy, as well as systems change toolkits for advocates.

Read our reports and briefings.

See our toolkits for systems change.

“Public policy” refers to the broad scope of laws, regulations and other government actions. Many of these can have a profound impact on Autistic people and other people with disabilities. For example, most disability services at the state and local level are funded through Medicaid, a program which is a partnership between the states and the federal government. Rules that the federal government sets about the Medicaid program can significantly impact how local disability services are run, for better or for worse. Another example can be found in laws that Congress passes relating to discrimination, who qualifies for non-discrimination protections and what those protections entail. Decisions of this nature have real effects on the experiences of disabled workers.

ASAN works through our relationships with Members of Congress, their staffs and relevant executive branch agencies to advance the interests and perspectives of Autistic people in these types of decisions. Not only do we work to ensure that we are represented in Congressional debates on legislation that impacts Autistic people and others with disabilities, but we also work to ensure that executive branch agencies implement new legislation in a way that is consistent with our community’s needs and perspectives. In doing so, we usually do not act alone. ASAN participates in many coalitions with other disability rights groups. For example, we are a founding member of the National Disability Leadership Alliance (NDLA), an advocacy coalition run by consumer/self-advocate led organizations like ASAN, the National Council on Independent Living, the National Federation of the Blind, the National Association of the Deaf, Little People of America and many others. ASAN also participates in other leading disability advocacy coalitions, such as the Alliance for the Prevention of Restraint, Aversive Interventions and Seclusion (APRAIS), the LEAD center, and the Collaboration for the Promotion of Self-Determination (CPSD). These coalitions help us enhance the power of the groups that participate in them beyond what could be achieved when acting alone.

If you are interested in being involved in policy advocacy and want to support ASAN’s efforts or need assistance in figuring out how you can be as effective as possible, please email us at info@autisticadvocacy.org for more information. In addition, ASAN sends out regular updates on our advocacy work. To subscribe, please use the sign-up form in the sidebar.

Position Statements

ASAN advocates specific policy positions on issues of importance to Autistic people and others with disabilities. In so doing, we seek to ensure the meaningful involvement of Autistic individuals in making policy at all levels, to promote a culture of inclusion and respect for all, to enforce the rights of Autistic people to equal opportunity at school and at work, and to improve funding for community services and supports along with research into how they can best be provided.

Read our position statements here.

Why ASAN uses identity-first language.

Action Alerts

Sometimes issues affecting the Autistic community need an organized public response, such as writing emails to companies or submitting comments to government agencies. When this happens, ASAN will post the information to alert the public to the need for prompt action.

Our action alerts have focused on such topics as opposing harmful stereotypes about autism, protecting children from dangerous restraints and other abuse, and making sure that the voices of self-advocates are heard in the public conversation about autism.

Recent Action Alerts

  • URGENT ACTION ALERT: Tell the Senate to Defend the ACA! Dear friends, We already knew our right to access health care would come under attack — but we didn’t realize just how soon. At 1:30 AM last night, the Senate approved a budget resolution that lawmakers have dubbed the Obamacare “repeal resolution.” Budget resolutions tell specific committees to write legislation that would decrease spending and increase revenue. ...
  • Trump’s new appointee: “I’ve got a cure for mental health – spank your children more” Dear friends, Last week was a trying time for many who work for disability rights in America. Many of you share our deep concern with policy proposals put forward by the new President-elect, including deep cuts in the Medicaid funding that sustains the vast majority of supports to people with disabilities. Yesterday, we learned that President-elect Trump ...
  • ACTION ALERT: Call Congress to End Organ Transplant Discrimination Against People with Disabilities Dear friends, People with disabilities have a right under the ADA to receive equitable and non-discriminatory treatment by medical professionals. Yet, for years, children and adults with developmental disabilities have been discriminated against by the organ transplant system – despite the fact that their disabilities had no bearing on whether or not their transplant would be ...
  • ACTION ALERT:  Tell the FDA: Ban Electric Shock Torture of People with Disabilities On April 22, 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a proposed rule to ban the use of electrical shock devices such as those used at the Judge Rotenberg Center in Canton, Massachusetts. ASAN has issued a statement with more information here. The FDA is currently taking public comments on the proposed rule. ASAN is preparing ...
  • ASAN Statement on SSA Representative Payee Gun Database Rule The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) strongly opposes a rule proposed by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that would report individuals who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), who also require the services of a representative payee, to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Specifically, a person who ...

View our archive of past action alerts.

Recent Policy Updates

  • URGENT ACTION ALERT: Tell the Senate to Defend the ACA! Dear friends, We already knew our right to access health care would come under attack — but we didn’t realize just how soon. At 1:30 AM last night, the Senate approved a budget resolution that lawmakers have dubbed the Obamacare “repeal resolution.” Budget resolutions tell specific committees to write legislation that would decrease spending and increase revenue. ...
  • ASAN, Other Advocates Launch Modern Medicaid Alliance New Initiative Highlights Benefits, Stories, and Innovations of Program Washington, D.C. – Despite the enormous societal and economic benefits offered by the modern Medicaid program, a lack of dialogue about the true value of the program drives misperceptions relating to it and puts policymaker support for it increasingly at risk. Now, an alliance of more than ...
  • ASAN Announces Release of New Plain Language Guide to Voting Rights for People With Disabilities With two weeks left before Election Day, ASAN is pleased to announce the release of a new plain language voting rights guide for people with intellectual, developmental, and psychiatric disabilities. ASAN developed the guide in coalition with the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, the National Disability Rights Network, and law firm Schulte, Roth & ...
  • Comments for October 26 IACC Meeting These comments are available as a PDF here. Thank you for the opportunity to submit written comments. The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) continues to be deeply concerned by the allocation of autism research funding.  According to the Office of Autism Research Coordination (OARC), the vast majority of NIH funding for autism research goes to investigating the ...
  • ASAN Supports and Calls for Immediate Committee Hearing on H.R. 2302 In the wake of the deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and others at the hands of law enforcement officers, ASAN announces its support for H.R. 2302, the Police Training and Independent Review Act. The bill would make certain federal funding of state law enforcement agencies contingent upon the agency’s establishment of independent prosecutors to ...

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