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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

  • Statement on FDA Proposed Rule Banning Use of Electric Shock Devices On April 22, 2016, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) issued the following statement on the proposed FDA rule to ban the use of electric shock devices such as those used at the Judge Rotenberg Center. Today, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a proposed rule to ban the use of electrical shock devices. These are ...
  • ACTION ALERT: Tell Your Senators to Support Disabled People in the Workforce Over the course of the last year, ASAN and our allies have been working with our allies in Congress to craft groundbreaking new legislation on employment of people with disabilities. The Transition to Independence Act (S. 1604), introduced last month by Senators Grassley, Wyden and Casey, is the result of those efforts.  This bill would create ...
  • Anti-Filicide Toolkit In December of 2014, 49-year-old Katherine Lavoie was shot by her husband. A month earlier, 29-year-old Daryne Gailey and 6-year-old London McCabe were both killed by their parents. In the year since our last vigil, our community has lost at least twenty more victims. In the past five years, over seventy people with disabilities have been murdered ...
  • ASAN Calls for Pardon for Neli Latson Yesterday, Reginald “Neli” Latson, an autistic man currently imprisoned in Virginia, pled guilty to assaulting a correctional officer in exchange for a six-month sentence – the statutory minimum. Although the Autistic Self Advocacy Network applauds the efforts of Neli’s attorney in this case, justice is still not served. We call on Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe ...
  • ACTION ALERT: Call On Congress to Oppose H.R. 4631, the Combating Autism Re-Authorization Act Tomorrow at 2 PM, the House Energy & Commerce Health Subcommittee will be taking a step to advance H.R. 4631, which would reauthorize the Combating Autism Act. The current version of the bill continues to exclude autistic people from the federal committee that oversees autism research (the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee), continues the use of ...

View our archive of past action alerts.

Recent Policy Updates

  • Statement on FDA Proposed Rule Banning Use of Electric Shock Devices On April 22, 2016, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) issued the following statement on the proposed FDA rule to ban the use of electric shock devices such as those used at the Judge Rotenberg Center. Today, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a proposed rule to ban the use of electrical shock devices. These are ...
  • ASAN Expresses Concern over New Autism Research Funding Numbers The Autistic Self Advocacy Network is deeply concerned by numbers released today by the Office of Autism Research Coordination (OARC) showing that autism research funding around services and adult issues has continued to drop from already low levels over the course of the last several years. Based on data from the new OARC Research Portfolio Analysis, ...
  • ASAN Urges Confirmation of Supreme Court Nominee Merrick Garland The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) urges the Senate to confirm Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee to fill the current vacancy on the Supreme Court. This vacancy cannot be allowed to remain until the inauguration of the next president. We believe that the President’s nominee will fairly examine the disability rights issues that are presented ...
  • ASAN Joins Letter Opposing Harmful Mental Health Bill The Autistic Self Advocacy Network has joined a letter led by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights opposing legislation that would undermine protection and advocacy organizations for people with psychosocial disabilities, erode privacy protections, and increase institutionalization and coercive interventions. Although our mental health services system is in need of serious reforms, this legislation, ...
  • ASAN, Disability Rights Ohio, and National Federation of the Blind Win Landmark Department of Labor Decision Against Sheltered Workshop In a groundbreaking opinion issued yesterday, the U.S. Department of Labor found that a sheltered workshop in Ohio had violated federal minimum wage laws by underpaying three of its workers with disabilities, including one autistic man. The opinion followed a petition that Autistic Self Advocacy Network filed along with Disability Rights Ohio, the National Federation ...
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