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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

  • 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 ...
  • #StopCombatingMe Nine years ago, Congress passed the Combating Autism Act (CAA), legislation that focused federal autism research and policy activities on creating a world without autistic people. In 2011, Congress re-authorized this deeply flawed legislation, over the objections of self-advocates and our families. Now, with the CAA set to expire this year unless Congress re-authorizes it, ...
  • We Did It Hi folks, Two weeks ago, they said it couldn’t be done. They said including disabled workers now being paid less than minimum wage in the executive order President Obama had just announced guaranteeing a $10.10/hour minimum wage for federal contract workers was just not possible. Today, I’m standing in the White House watching President Obama put his ...

View our archive of past action alerts.

Recent Policy Updates

  • ASAN Praises Senators Grassley, Wyden and Casey for introducing the Transition to Independence Act, S. 1604 The Autistic Self Advocacy Network applauds Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Robert Casey (D-PA) for the introduction of the Transition to Independence Act (S.1604). This legislation will create a ten-state demonstration program, within which states will receive bonus payments from the federal government for achieving increases in the number of people with ...
  • ASAN Calls for Expanded Coverage of Assistive Communication Devices The Autistic Self Advocacy Network has called on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to recognize tablets – such as iPads – as assistive communication devices. Many autistic people use speech-generation programs on tablets to communicate. Currently, people enrolled in Medicare can only get coverage for special speech-generation devices that cannot be used for ...
  • Autistic Self Advocacy Network Files Amicus Brief Challenging Discriminatory Denial of Health Care On Monday January 26, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, Not Dead Yet, and 13 other disability rights organizations filed a second amicus brief in a case defending the rights of people with disabilities to basic medical care. Disability Rights Wisconsin filed the initial lawsuit, Disability Rights Wisconsin v. University of Wisconsin Hospital Centers et al., in 2009 ...
  • ASAN Statement on New Jersey Assisted Suicide Bill Hearing Despite leading disability rights organizations’ long history of opposition to legalization of assisted suicide, the New Jersey Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee held a hearing yesterday on the state’s proposed assisted suicide bill without inviting any representatives of the disability community as witnesses. People with disabilities, who are often presumed to be ...
  • ASAN Comment on California’s HCBS Transition Plan Department of Health Care Services Long-Term Care Division, STP comments 1501 Capitol Avenue, MS 4503 PO Box 997437 Sacramento, CA 95899-7437 VIA EMAIL: STP@dhcs.ca.gov   Dear Sir or Madam: The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) appreciates the opportunity to submit the following comments on California’s statewide home and community-based services (HCBS) transition plan. Outreach to Stakeholders The new Medicaid HCBS regulations mark a sea change ...
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