Completed Projects

The Pacific Alliance on Disability Self-Advocacy (PADSA)

The Pacific Alliance on Disability Self-Advocacy (PADSA) was a project run by the Autistic Self Advocacy Network from 2013 to 2016, funded as a Project of National Significance through the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. ASAN assisted self-advocacy groups in California, Oregon, Washington and Montana with technical assistance in achieving their goals. ASAN also organized an annual week-long self-advocacy training for these groups called the Pacific Leadership Academy. In addition, ASAN developed plain-language self advocacy resources and guides, which focused on teaching fundraising skills, building strong leadership, utilizing technology more, and improving communication skills. These resources can be accessed on the PADSA website.

Real Talk: Improving Quality of Sexual Health Care for Patients with Disabilities

Since January 2015, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) and the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) have operated Real Talk: Conversations and resources about sexuality for young people with disabilities and sexual health providers. Supported by a grant from the HSC Foundation, Real Talk has provided the space for young people with disabilities to create tips and resources for sexual health providers and other professionals on how they can provide inclusive, culturally-appropriate, accessible education and resources to people with disabilities.

Real Talk began with a series of dialogues with young people with disabilities about their experiences with sexual health providers. These dialogues culminated in the creation of a guide for sexual and reproductive health providers about inclusion and accommodations when working with this people with all types of disabilities.

Real Talk: Improving Quality of Sexual Health Care for Patients with Disabilities webinar slides are available in both PowerPoint and PDF formats.

Download the webinar slides PowerPoint

Download the webinar slides PDF

ASAN and NCIL also produced a Provider Toolkit with information about how to improve accessibility, access, and attitudes surrounding sexual health care for people with disabilties.

You can download the Real Talk Provider Toolkit here.

Autism NOW National Resource and Information Center

ASAN was a partner organization on the Autism NOW National Resource and Information Center, which was funded by a grant to The Arc via the U.S. Administration on Developmental Disabilities. The Autism NOW Center seeks to disseminate information and resources about autism to a wide range of people, including Autistic people, parents, and others interested in autism. The Center provides an information and referral call center, which can be reached at 1-855-828-8476. Activities of the Center reflect the principles of inclusion, integration, independence, and self-determination as set forth in the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000.

Services provided by ASAN included directing and managing special projects, including social media exchanges, and providing liaison with the Center’s Advisory Committee. ASAN took the lead in developing the Center’s Core Values statement. ASAN chapters in five regions of the country worked to create focus groups on ethics and values of the Autistic, autism, and developmental disability communities. ASAN developed an online survey on ethics and values. The results of the focus groups, survey, and other input formed the basis for a final report and Statement of Core Values.

ASAN worked with Autism NOW staff to develop self-advocacy tools addressing issues such as college, relationships, employment, autistic identity, and access services and supports. ASAN’s outreach and dissemination activities on behalf of the Center included participation in regional summits, webinars, and resource sharing. The Center presented two webinars per week, covering a variety of topics relating to autism and other developmental disabilities.

The Loud Hands Project

Loud Hands: Autistic People, Speaking is a collection of essays written by and for Autistic people. Spanning from the dawn of the Neurodiversity movement to the blog posts of today, Loud Hands: Autistic People, Speaking catalogues the experiences and ethos of the Autistic community and preserves both diverse personal experiences and the community’s foundational documents together side by side.

Questions addressed by the contributors include: what does autism mean to you; why does Autistic culture matter; what do you wish you had known growing up Autistic; how can the Autistic community cultivate resilience; what does “loud hands” mean to you; and how do you have loud hands? The anthology is the first of a projected series featuring contributions from Autistic writers stressing the preservation and celebration of Autistic culture and resilience.

Partnering with People with Developmental Disabilities to Address Violence and Health

This Community Based Participatory Research project seeks to understand the relationship between violence, victimization, and health in people with developmental disabilities. The Autistic Self Advocacy Network collaborated on this project along with the University of Montana, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland State University, Self Advocates As Leaders, Bitter Root Valley People First, and Summit Independent Living Center. For more information, see the AUCD 2009 RTOIs.

The DJF-ASAN Empowering Autistic Leaders Project

Although college students with disabilities often receive accommodations, they usually do not have the opportunity to take classes about the history of Americans with disabilities and the disability rights movement. They also are not specifically taught how to advocate for better support for people with disabilities.

Produced by the Autistic Self Advocacy Network and funded by the Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation, this project focused on teaching Autistic college students how to engage in policy advocacy through their college campuses. Topics covered in our Empowering Disabled Leaders booklet include how to form effective student groups, disability history and disability laws, and strategies to bring about systems change in higher education.

Ethical, Legal and Social Implications of Autism Research

This project, funded by a grant to ASAN from the U.S. Administration on Developmental Disabilities, was launched on December 10, 2011, at Harvard Law School with a symposium of researchers, self-advocates, family members, and activists. The symposium addressed ethical concerns in autism research, such as prenatal testing, community participation in research methodologies, appropriate and inappropriate intervention goals, enhancing the effectiveness and inclusivity of Institutional Review Boards, setting diagnostic criteria, and balancing competing concerns of safety and self-determination.

In collaboration with the Harvard Law Project on Disability and the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law, Biotechnology and Bioethics, ASAN worked to set forth a framework for future action by researchers, policymakers, and community partners. In 2012, we wrote two policy briefs discussing the DSM-5 autism criteria and the impact of the proposed changes. These briefs can be accessed free of charge through the links below:

What Are the Stakes? An Analysis of the Impact of the DSM-5 Draft Autism Criteria on Law, Policy and Service Provision

ASD in DSM-5: What the Research Shows and Recommendations for Change

Autism Summer Institute

ASAN organized the self-advocacy strand at the 2011 Autism Summer Institute, a conference held at the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability. This annual event provides an opportunity for families, educators, service providers, and self-advocates to discuss ways to improve educational programs and community inclusion for the Autistic population. Several Autistic self-advocates were featured as keynote presenters. The self-advocacy track, designed for adolescents and young adults, included presentations by teenagers using assistive devices to communicate.

The theme of the 2011 conference, focusing on literacy instruction and assistive technology, was “Everybody Reads, Everybody Writes, Everybody Has Something to Say.” Exhibits included a hands-on technology exploration room to enable participants to become familiar with assistive devices used by people with autism and related disabilities. Social events, including film screenings, took place in the evenings.

Joint Report on Home and Community Based Services

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services invited public comment in 2011 on establishing minimum quality standards for providers of home and community based services (HCBS). The Autistic Self Advocacy Network joined with two other self-advocacy groups, Self Advocates Becoming Empowered and the National Youth Leadership Network, to prepare a report on what community living means. In addition to discussing what kinds of living arrangements should qualify for HCBS funds, this report addressed policy issues in the areas of housing, education, employment, and transportation.  It is available as a free download through the following link:

Keeping the Promise: Self Advocates Defining the Meaning of Community Living

Autistic Scholars Fellowship

The Autistic Scholars Fellowship was an annual college scholarship program from 2016-2018, which supported autistic college students in becoming leaders of the disability rights advocacy movement on their campuses. Fellowship recipients were granted a one-time, $5000 scholarship, and received technical assistance from ASAN in achieving their advocacy goals.

Learn more about the firstsecond, and third classes of Autistic Scholars.