Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Community Choice Act Needs Support

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network has created the following Action Alert on to enable supporters of the Community Choice Act to quickly contact members of Congress and President Obama regarding the importance of the legislation. Please visit ASAN's Action Alert page and show your support!

Pass the Community Choice Act with Comprehensive Health Care Reform!

This action alert is designed to tell the Obama Administration and Congress that health care reform is incomplete without including long term services and supports through passage of the Community Choice Act. The Community Choice Act would reform Medicaid to increase access to community-based services and supports for all Americans. It would provide individuals with disabilities in institutions and nursing homes the option to receive community-based services and help address waiting lists by providing guaranteed access to a community-based benefit within Medicaid. It would also fix the institutional bias in Medicaid, liberating people from institutions and supporting them to live empowered lives within the community.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Petition to Tony Attwood and Isabelle Hénault

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network has created a petition calling on Dr. Tony Attwood and Dr. Isabelle Hénault, two psychologists widely known for their writings and presentations in the area of Autism, to disassociate themselves from hate groups promoting the groundless and pseudoscientific concept of Cassandra Affective Deprivation Disorder and related stereotypes and libels. These groups, including FAAAS and ASPIA, falsely claim that Autistics and people with neurological disabilities are likely to be violent and to abuse their family members. These groups seek to encourage discrimination against Autistic people in family law and relationships. Such stereotypes have caused people with disabilities to be deprived of parental rights and discriminated against in divorce and child custody cases. Drs. Attwood and Hénault have been regular presenters at Cassandra-related events over the past decade and currently are members of the FAAAS Professional Advisory Panel.

Regardless of your background or interest in Autism or cross-disability issues, we hope that you will join us in signing this petition to help secure the rights of all people to be treated equally under the law. For those who are interested in e-mailing directly, is the e-mail address for Dr. Attwood and is the e-mail address for Dr. Hénault. Also, here is a link to a statement by ASAN President Ari Ne'eman asking the community to sign the petition to Dr. Tony Attwood and Dr. Isabelle Hénault. Thank you for your support in ending stereotypes and discrimination.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

No Myths Autism PSA: A Different Kind of Autism Awareness‏

This April, the "No Myths" public service announcement offers a different kind of autism awareness—one that offers a realistic view of the autistic population, instead of stereotypes and myths. ASAN President Ari Ne'eman has issued the following statement about the PSA and encourages viewers to make others aware of it as well:

ASAN worked with the Dan Marino Foundation and Kent Creative to develop the following autism PSA. Take a look, tell us what you think and please spread the word with blogs and outreach.

Youtube link:
Captioned Version:

Go to to learn more. This PSA is brought to you by the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (, Kent Creative ( and the Dan Marino Foundation (

About the Public Service Announcement:

The "No Myths" PSA offers a refreshingly positive and optimistic view about life with autism. And it was written and performed by people who should know--individuals who are on the autism spectrum themselves. The purpose of the PSA is to tell society that, with the right supports, people with autism can do anything anybody else can do, even if it isn't in the same way. Ari Ne'eman, president of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, leads a cast that includes {in order of appearance} Dena Gassner, Ben Liske, and Jacob Pratt.

The Dan Marino Foundation of Weston, FL sponsored the piece, which was filmed by Nashville-based Kent Creative. Jon Kent directed the PSA and Britt Simmons was the Director of Photography.

"No Myths" was filmed inside the Parthenon in Nashville, TN. The Nashville Parthenon, which was built in 1897, is a full-scale replica of the ancient Greek Temple. The two bronze doors, used as a symbol throughout the PSA, weigh 7.5 tons each, and are thought to be the largest pair of matching bronze doors in existence. The producers wish to thank Citation Film Support and the Filmworker's Club of Nashville for their generous support of this project.


Ari Ne'eman
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network
1660 L Street, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Opposing Alarmist Rhetoric

ASAN Southwest Ohio sent the following statement to the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon regarding language used on their website to promote fundraising for autism research:

I am writing to express my concern about alarmist statements on the Cincinnati Marathon website regarding autism, which could have the effect of increasing society's unfounded fear of autistic people and inciting prejudice and discrimination. On your front page, promoting the Run/Walk for Autism, there is a comparison of autism to cancer, diabetes, and AIDS, which misleadingly causes people to view autism as a disease that their family members are at risk of catching. A reader who follows the link to the page promoting the Autism Run/Walk event will be informed that those who "haven't had a close connection with autism" are "fortunate" and that autism is a "horrible epidemic."

In fact, autism is a developmental condition, not a disease; it does not make anyone sick or kill anyone, and it cannot be acquired from contact with autistic people. Comparing autism to deadly diseases such as AIDS can cause uninformed people to shun autistic individuals out of a groundless fear that they or their family members will somehow catch autism. For the same reason, autism should not be characterized as an "epidemic," which is a term that usually refers to an outbreak of contagious disease.

For a more detailed explanation of why such language is harmful to autistic people, please read the public statement by Jim Sinclair and Susan J. Golubock asking those who are concerned about helping the autistic community to oppose the use of alarmist rhetoric about autism.

I personally have a close connection with autism, in that I am an autistic person myself and have several relatives who are also autistic. This will be my seventh year running in the Flying Pig Marathon with my husband, and I find it very offensive that your website would suggest that my existence is horrible and that those who have no close connections with families such as mine are fortunate. Please think about how you would feel if you and your family belonged to a minority group that was being described in such terms, and edit your website accordingly.


Meg Evans
Autistic Self Advocacy Network, Southwest Ohio

Update: In response to our concerns, the Cincinnati Marathon has edited its front page so that its link to the event's website does not contain the cancer/AIDS analogy or any other language reposted from the event's website. The event's organizer, Janet Leiter of the Autism Society of Greater Cincinnati, can be contacted at regarding the language on the event's website.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

US Federal Job Opportunities

Since the election of President Obama, the United States federal government has put more emphasis on expanding disability employment initiatives at the request of the new administration. Existing disability employment policy, new political interest, and stimulus spending are combining to bring about more job opportunities for people with disabilities in the federal government.

ASAN is interested in how to best facilitate access for autistic adults to these new opportunities. If you have some ideas about how the autistic community might go about doing that, please feel free to post and discuss them here.