27 July 2011

My Thoughts to the Adult Services Subcommittee

I took liberal inspiration from ASAN Greater Boston's June 25 Focus Group on Autism and Ethics and the feedback and suggestions received there, as well as Winchester-based advocate Catherine Boyle's shared values statement, a collaborative project among various members of the autism community to find shared values in the midst of the contention and animosity that often surround important issues. I did not, however, refer to any documents from the focus group, or Catherine's document, when writing the following, and any plagiarism of phrases is incidental and unintentional, and duly credited to potential original authors here.


- Autistic people have the right to be treated with respect, presumed competent, included in discussions about policies or practices that affect them (both with public and private organizations and decision-making bodies), and considered valuable members of society.

- Autistic people, especially those who do not speak or have limited speech abilities, have the right to receive access to and support in learning how to use alternative means of communication other than speech, such as American Sign Language, picture boards, keyboarding, or other augmentative/alternative communication devices.

- Autistic people have the right to receive services and supports that they need or request, or that family members or guardians request on their behalf. They should never be excluded from or denied eligibity for receiving services or supports based on IQ, co-occurring conditions such as mental illness or other disabilities, or age. Autistic people have this right on the basis of autism alone.

- Autistic people have the right to be included in discussions or meetings that affect them personally, including IEP meetings while in the public school system. They have an important and valuable voice in shaping their plan of support, services, or interventions.

- Autistic people have the right to access to healthcare services with appropriate accommodations throughout the process of seeking medical services, communicating with medical professionals, and making informed decisions about medical procedures.

- Autistic people have the right to receive appropriate and necessary supported living services, as well as any necessary financial assistance in obtaining appropriate housing.

- Autistic people have the right to gainful and meaningful employment commensurate with their abilities, skills, and interests; appropriate supported employment services and resources throughout the hiring process and on the job; and access to training about self-advocacy skills in the workplace. Wherever possible, employers and managers should be provided with education about autism and other disabilities so that they can best accommodate their employees.

- Autistic people have the right to access community resources where they live, including appropriate and affordable transportation options, local programs or events, community education programs, and autism and disability organizations.

- Autistic people in the public school system, in private schools, or in post-secondary institutions have the right to appropriate and necessary supports and services required for academic functioning, adaptive functioning, and social functioning. They have the right to an appropriate, individualized transition plan from the school system to adulthood, and to be included in discussions shaping these plans for support.

- Autistic people living in residential institutions have the right to appropriate advocacy resources, including access to training about self-advocacy skills; appropriate and necessary services and supports, including positive behavioral supports for maladaptive behaviors; legal counsel and recourse in regards to guardianship and its terms; and appropriate assessments by qualified professionals with expertise in autism and developmental disabilities.

- Autistic people interacting with first responders, law enforcement, the courts, or other government agencies have the right to an advocate with expertise on autism and developmental disabilities, appropriate accommodations for communication and interaction wherever possible, and appropriate assessments by qualified professionals with expertise in autism and developmental disabilities. First responders, law enforcement officers, court officials, and corrections officers should be trained in recognizing characteristics of autism, appropriate means of communication and interaction with Autistic people, and how to accommodate sensory processing challenges on a situational basis.

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