Saturday, June 28, 2008

Inclusive Soccer in Cincinnati

ASAN Southwest Ohio recently received an e-mail from Jim Myres with information about Cincinnati TOP Soccer, an athletic program for children and young adults with special needs in Southwest Ohio. The program serves young people ages 5 through 20, and autistic youths are welcome to play on Cincinnati TOP Soccer teams.

According to the program's website, Cincinnati TOP Soccer is "part of a national soccer program created to train young people with disabilities in a caring coaching environment. The Greater Cincinnati chapter allows a child to participate in the same community sports program as their non-disabled brothers and sisters - to wear the same club uniform, play at the same fields, go to the same awards banquets, and if appropriate, play on a non-disabled team."

ASAN Southwest Ohio supports inclusion of autistic individuals and others with disabilities as fully participating members of community programs. We appreciate Mr. Myres' taking the time to let us know about Cincinnati TOP Soccer, and we hope that its teams will have an enjoyable fall season.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Autistic Adults Planning Committee Seeks Comments

In response to lobbying efforts by ASAN's New Jersey chapter to create a state planning committee focused on the needs of autistic adults, the New Jersey Adults with Autism Task Force was created. ASAN is seeking comments from autistic adults, family members, professionals, and other interested parties regarding public policy on the needs of autistic adults. Comments should be sent to ASAN's national organization, as requested by Ari Ne'eman, and will be shared with the Task Force.

Hello all,

Today, I will attend the first meeting of New Jersey Adults with Autism Task Force, the nation's first state-level planning committee specifically on the needs of Autistic adults. As some of you may recall, the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network lobbied for the creation of this task force with an autistic representative. On April 2nd, I was named by Governor Jon Corzine of New Jersey to serve as one of the body's public members. We are pleased that our community's voice was heard on this issue and I look forward to serving on the Task Force in future months. Although it will only make policy recommendations for one state, this body will develop ideas that, if effective, may provide guidance for public policy on the needs of autistic adults across the globe.

As such, I am personally inviting autistic adults, family members, professionals and others who are interested in sharing their thoughts about the Task Force's mission to e-mail ASAN at with stories, recommendations and other comments that you feel will help broaden the perspectives of the Task Force's members, including myself. Please put the keyword, "AUTISTIC ADULTS" in your subject line and feel free to send your stories and/or thoughts at any point over the coming months. In your e-mail, please indicate where you are writing from, some background details about you to the extent you feel comfortable sharing them and whether or not you would be okay with your story being shared publicly. No e-mails will be posted anywhere without the prior written permission of the author. Over the next year, the Task Force will draft policy that I hope will serve as a model for meeting the needs of autistic adults now and into the future. Thank you and please feel free to distribute this message to your networks.

Ari Ne'eman
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network
1101 15th Street, NW Suite 1212
Washington, DC 20005

Thursday, June 19, 2008

ASAN Seeks to Strengthen the Americans with Disabilities Act

Several disability and civil rights organizations, including the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, currently are working with American business associations to provide greater protection against employment discrimination by amending the Americans with Disabilities Act. Details below:

Employers and Disability Advocates Push for Amendments to Landmark Americans with Disabilities Act

Employer & Disability Alliance Forms to Clarify & Secure Promise of the ADA

Washington, DC, June 18, 2008 – This afternoon, former Congressman Tony Coelho, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue, LCCR Executive Vice President Nancy Zirkin and autism advocate Ari Ne'eman announced the formation of the Employer & Disability Alliance – a new collaborative effort among some of America's largest business associations and leading disability and civil rights advocates to promote the ADA Amendments Act.

"Narrow court interpretations have removed ADA protections for people Congress intended to cover – those with serious heart conditions, epilepsy, diabetes, and even cancer," said Zirkin. "Organizations in the Employer & Disability Alliance have been working around the clock with leaders in Congress to return ADA coverage – through the ADA Amendments Act – to these people and to craft an agreement that is fair to both employers and those with disabilities," said Zirkin.

"I always say that I don't know of any other group in America who wants to pay taxes – it's those of us with disabilities, because a job is our dignity and an opportunity to participate in this great American dream," said Coelho, the primary author of the original ADA. "What the ADA Amendments Act does is provide us the opportunity to work with the business community to get those jobs we want."

"I'm thrilled to be able to speak up in support of this essential restoration of civil rights law that will ensure that Americans with disabilities, like myself, will continue to enjoy protections and are included throughout society," said Ne'eman who is the founding president of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network.

The ADA Amendments Act clarifies the current requirement that impairment substantially limit a major life activity in order to be considered a disability. It also confirms for the courts that people with disabilities should not lose their civil rights protections because their condition is treatable with medication or can be addressed with the help of assistive technology. The Employer & Disability Alliance sent a letter to the Hill explaining these and other elements in more detail this morning. The full text of the letter is below.

"Some will criticize the details of the compromise, and this criticism will come from some in the employer community and some in the disability community," said Donohue. "But, in making decisions comes some heat and we are willing to take that heat to do what is necessary. Fortunately, the new proposal has been widely vetted in the business community and we look forward to working with the policymakers on Capitol Hill to move the ball forward, with the hope that this agreement can be kept largely intact."

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Good Morning America neurodiversity links

For those who didn't have a chance to watch the appearance of ASAN President Ari Ne'eman on today's Good Morning America segment about neurodiversity, here is a link to the video:

An article discussing the show, with many comments from viewers, can be found here:

In response to the show, Estée Klar-Wolfond wrote an insightful article on her blog addressing the misconceptions and outdated views of disability that often are expressed in the media:

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Autreat 2008

The 2008 Autreat conference, to be held June 23-27 in Bradford, Pennsylvania, will feature presentations by several well-known autistic self-advocates, including Ari Ne'eman and Scott Robertson of ASAN, Alex Plank of Wrong Planet, Sola Shelly and Ronen Gil of the Autistic Community of Israel, Autreat organizer Jim Sinclair, and Autism Hub blogger Joel Smith. In addition, assistive technology specialist Barbara Stern Delsack and occupational therapist Susan J. Golubock will be discussing therapy and adult services, and Janis Oberman will address the problem of discriminatory practices in the social service system in California and elsewhere.

As described on the conference's website, Autreat is an opportunity for autistic people and those with related developmental differences, our friends, and supporters to come together, discover and explore autistic connections, and develop advocacy skills, all in an autistic-friendly environment. Family members and professionals are welcome to attend, but the structure and content of this event will be determined by the interests and sensibilities of autistic people.

Those who plan to donate to the Autreat scholarship fund or to apply for an Autreat scholarship are requested to do so as soon as possible.