In addition to our programming around higher education, health care access and other areas of importance to the Autistic community, ASAN also engages in a wide array of policy advocacy activities to ensure that the Autistic community is represented when autism is discussed in the halls of power. 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) 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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
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.
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.