As November draws to a close, we’re reflecting on everything we’ve worked on this year, as well as the advocacy battles ahead. 2020 has been a hard year, but this month brought much-needed progress on some issues important to our community, and gave us a chance to celebrate self-advocacy together.
In July, ASAN and the Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network filed a joint statement calling for relief in the case of Matthew Rushin, a young autistic Black man who was facing a decades-long sentence after a car accident. This month, Matthew received a partial pardon, which will allow him to return to his family and community early next year. ASAN welcomed this news, as well as the introduction of the Mental Health Justice Act, which ASAN is proud to support. This bill would reduce police violence by funding community-based mental health responders, who could respond to many 911 calls instead of police. ASAN will continue to advocate for transformative justice and community services to replace our current system of mass incarceration.
This month, we also welcomed the introduction of the Keeping All Students Safe Act (KASSA) in Congress. KASSA would ban almost all restraint, and all seclusion, across all 50 states, and would require school districts to collect data to prevent further use of these dangerous practices. Like harsh sentencing in the criminal legal system, and police violence, restraint and seclusion disproportionately impacts disabled people of color, especially Black disabled people. We welcomed progress on these issues this month, and will continue to fight against the systemic discrimination that our Black autistic community members face.
We also continue to work to ensure that people with disabilities can access robust community services. We submitted comments on the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, providing feedback on a set of measures to evaluate the quality of Medicaid-funded home and community-based services (HCBS). We urged CMS to evaluate HCBS based on how much real choice and control the people receiving these services have over their lives and supports. We also recommended additional measures that CMS could use, to better assess whether services are supporting the self-determination of people with disabilities.
This month, ASAN also held our first-ever virtual gala! It was wonderful to interact with so many of you via Twitter chats, Zoom panels, and giveaways, among other activities. If you missed it, you can catch up here. At the gala, we looked back on ASAN’s work this year, on topics including COVID-19 education and policy, deinstitutionalization, police violence, voting, and so much more. You can read about everything we accomplished in 2020 in our Annual Report. While you do, know that all of that work was only possible because of the advocacy and support of our grassroots. As we head into the holiday season, we know what we’re thankful for: you!
If you’re looking for a way to support us this holiday season, Giving Tuesday is coming next week! We’re always thrilled at the ways people find to support us during this time, from Facebook fundraisers, to memberships and donations, to sharing our work with friends and family. Stay tuned for more ways to participate in Giving Tuesday!
As always, we encourage all of you to take care of yourselves as well as each other, and to stay safe as we enter the holiday season.
Wishing you all the best,
Director of Operations
Autistic Self Advocacy Network
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