Thursday, September 18, 2008

REMINDER: Last Day to Submit Comment on Autism Services to IACC

Hi everyone,

Just a reminder: tomorrow is the last day to submit comment to the Inter-Agency Autism Coordinating Committee's Services Subcommittee. You can find details about the priorities we're encouraging people to write about here. However, it is vitally important that they hear from self-advocates, so we encourage you to write something about your experiences with the autism service-delivery system and areas where you would like to see more research conducted as to how to improve services, supports and education for autistic people across the lifespan. Your support at this crucial period is appreciated.

Mail comments by September 19th, 2008.

More info from NIMH can be found here:


Ari Ne'eman
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network
1660 L Street, NW, Suite 700 Washington, DC 20036 732.763.5530

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

ADAPT Challenges HUD, Dems, McCain on Disability/Housing Economic Crisis

Washington, D.C.---ADAPT wasted no time challenging multiple policymakers on the housing crisis for persons with disabilities who have low and extremely low incomes. After setting up a tent city at HUD headquarters just after 4 a.m., ADAPT sent 100 activists to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) offices in Washington, D.C., and another hundred to a Sen. John McCain campaign office in Arlington, VA. All three entities were presented with the ADAPT platform for affordable, accessible housing. "The DNC was cordial, and they accepted our housing platform, as well as our invitation to visit 'DUH City,' which is HUD spelled backwards," said octonagerian Barb Toomer, ADAPT organizer from Utah."The career HUD staff that met with ADAPT told our people they had no authority to make decisions and had to wait for the administration or administrative appointees to make any decisions, so the meeting felt like a waste of time. Sen. John McCain's campaign staff not only refused to even look at our housing platform, they had eleven of us arrested by police who caused injuries to at least one arrestee." ADAPT's housing platform points to America's20longstanding and still growing crisis in the availability of affordable, accessible integrated housing. Many people with disabilities live on benefits that are only 18% of the median income, a full 25% below the poverty level, and an amount that is less than the national average rent for a studio/efficiency apartment. "The federal government is sending stimulus payments to middle class workers, and is providing economic relief for the mortgage crisis, and maybe even the bank crisis," said Dawn Russell, Denver ADAPT. "What about all of us who live on fixed incomes? If we can't afford the cost of housing, we'll end up on the street or being forced into nursing homes and institutions. What are the federal government, Congress, and the presidential candidates going to do to help us with our housing crisis?" In its platform, ADAPT is asking for: · 5000 new housing vouchers per year for 10 years, targeted to people transitioning out of nursing homes and other institutions;· Twice as much funding for the construction of new housing stock that is affordable, accessible and integrated;· Policies and procedures to track the new vouchers to assure they remain targeted to people with disabilities when the original user becomes ineligible or no longer needs the voucher;· People with disabilities who reside in institutional settings to be recognized as "homeless." ADAPT's DUH City will remain in operation twenty four hours a day until Thursday, September 18. The DUH City Times will be delivered daily to every member of Congress, and there will be daily DUH TV coverage on You Tube. Background information, real stories of real people and photos can all be accessed at

Sunday, September 14, 2008

IACC RFI links

Mail comments to: by September 19th, 2008. More info from NIMH can be found here:

Friday, September 12, 2008




The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) has put out a Request for Information (RFI) to seek input from stakeholders (those interested in autism), including autistic individuals, about what they consider to be high-priority issues and concerns surrounding services and supports for children, youth, and adults with ASD.

The RFI is due no later than Sept. 19, 2008, seven days from now.

This RFI provides an excellent opportunity for self-advocates and allies to make our voices heard. Members of the IACC are very interested in hearing from individuals on the autism spectrum. They’ve heard extensively from the anti-vaccine crowd, from parents, experts, researchers, and from people on the autism spectrum.

More input from autistic adults at this point, when the IACC is coming close to finalizing a budget and mission statement for the Strategic Plan, will mean more attention to the issues we consider to be most important.

The focus of this particular RFI on services and supports is an area that many autistic adults have much to say about; here is a chance to say it directly to the committee that will be allocating resources to various areas. Currently, funding is skewed toward genetic research and research into treatments and interventions.

In the time that autistic individuals have been submitting comments and testifying at IACC meetings, some positive change has been noted in the amount of funds earmarked for research into services and supports.

It is important that the IACC hear from everyone who is able to comment because part of the task of assessing importance is to determine the extent of the population that has an interest in the decisions that the IACC will make.

The IACC decides levels of funding for research into supports and services, but does not fund supports and services themselves.


The Autistic Self Advocacy Network has developed these talking points to assist individuals in writing statements to IACC on the topic of supports and services.

The RFI lists a number of areas of concern that can be addressed. You do not have to address every topic. You can pick the ones that are the most important to you. Feel free to change the wording so that it reflects your most important priorities.


Studies need to be undertaken that assess current levels of supports and services within the public education system. When treatments and interventions that look promising are developed, additional funding must be appropriated to address implementation so that teachers, students, parents, and other education professionals are up-to-date and have access to information, training, technological resources such as AAC, and other resources.

Health and medical services (including dental):

Access to health and medical services, particularly for adults on the autism spectrum, is of paramount importance for research funding. Current studies that focus on diagnosis and treatment of children do not address the very real need for healthcare access for autistic adults who may not have insurance, may have communication difficulties and other difficulties that prevent them from obtaining adequate care. Education of health care professionals so that they can interact knowledgeable with autistic patients/clients is one area for research into services and supports.


Research into housing alternatives, following ideas such as those in the Community Choice Act and Money Follows the Person projects, should be undertaken. Warehousing of individuals in residential centers is undesirable yet often occurs because infrastructure for other types of housing is unavailable or underutilized. Research needs to include cost-effectiveness measures, some of which are already available, which show that housing in the community costs less than residential living.


Research into the most effective transition options needs to be undertaken. Parents and young adults on the spectrum often have nowhere to turn after they age out of the school environment. A clearinghouse of options should be researched and developed so that families will have resources already in place.


Research into employment options and opportunities for people on the autism spectrum needs to include components such as accommodations, training, and career counseling. Research in other areas such as treatment, interventions, diagnosis, and genetic research, can be used to counter stereotypes of what an individual on the spectrum can do for employment. Resources for trainers, counselors, employers, and others need to be developed so that autistic people are not discriminated against in the employment world because of stereotypes and misunderstanding. The IACC and NIMH can set the tone for accurate information that can help employers assess individual strengths and weaknesses rather than relying on discriminatory assumptions.

Community inclusion:

Full inclusion in the community needs to be examined and research initiatives should focus on this very important aspect of adult life, and life for children who will grow into adulthood. Community-based participatory research should be implemented that will accurately reflect the actual needs of the autistic teen and adult population.


Research into areas that can improve safety for autistic people, throughout the lifespan, and in different situations, needs to be undertaken. Areas to focus on are keeping people on the autism spectrum safe if they have a tendency to wander, or do not understand dangerous situations. Education of parents, professionals, first responders, and autistic people should be undertaken, and the best methods for ensuring safety should be addressed by research in this area. Sometimes autistic people can appear unusual in behavior, which will attract attention from law enforcement and other personnel. Training for professionals in aspects of autistic behavior that might not be understood is a crucial area to address in order to promote the safety of all.

Older adults:

Many older adults remain undiagnosed. Some have no health insurance. Some are living in poverty or are homeless. Many older autistic adults will need medication, including medication for health problems. Research into how to best reach out to older adults who may not have an autism diagnosis but may present as in need of services should be undertaken. Research into the effect of common medications, including for non-autistic-related health problems such as diabetes, should be undertaken. Because of the possibility of extrapyramidal or paradoxical drug reactions, and the general effect of certain drugs on older people, cases should be documented so that any adverse pattern of reaction can be established. Housing, health care, dental care, and community inclusion should all be addressed and tailored to the older autistic population. Community-based participatory research can be invaluable in determining the best ways to access health and other care.


Across the lifespan, autistic children and their families, autistic adults and elders will have various financial needs. Research into how to help families and individuals on the spectrum cover the costs associated with treatments and interventions, and a clearinghouse for resources should be developed. In addition, financial resources for autistic adults who have difficulty with financial concepts should be researched and implemented.


Research into the best ways to establish guardianship should be undertaken, including autistic adults as full participants in the research process in order to establish the most ethical procedures for guardianship. Guardianship should be tailored to the needs of the individual rather than being a one-size-fits-all category, since some individuals will need guardianship in limited areas, but not all aspects of their lives.

Estate planning:

Families with autistic individuals need to take extra precautions in planning an estate, especially for individuals who may need ongoing care throughout life. Autistic adults also may need assistance with estate planning. Research leading to the development of estate planning tools that can assist families and autistic individuals in making sound decisions should be initiated.

Paula C. Durbin-Westby
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network

Thursday, September 4, 2008

ASAN Urges Self-Advocactes to Write Comments to the IACC

The following announcement was released today by the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. We are strongly urging autistic self-advocates and our allies to submit comments to the U.S. government regarding autism research and services, so that our voices will be heard when the funds are allocated. It is not necessary to be a U.S. citizen to submit a comment.The role of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC), created in 2006, is to help formulate the direction of future scientific research about autism in the U.S.The IACC has indicated its willingness to hear from people on the autistic spectrum by including us in their invitation for comments, and by including an adult on the autistic spectrum on their board.The IACC is currently asking for comments (Requests for Information) on two different topics. These requests for comments are our chance as individuals on the autistic spectrum to have our voices heard by the IACC. This is our chance to help ensure that future research about autism is scientifically sound, ethical, and of real benefit to people on the spectrum. The number of responses really matters; please respond to the requests if you are able.REQUEST FOR INFORMATION #1Topic: Priority Questions for Supports and ServicesDeadline: 19 September, 2008The IACC would like to know what you consider to be the most important, or highest priority, research questions related to services and supports for people on the autistic spectrum. This includes any high priority questions or concerns related to education, health and medical services (including dental), housing, transitions, employment, community inclusion, safety, older adults, finances, guardianship, and estate planning.This information will be used by the IACC to guide which autism research projects get funding.To get more information about the request for information, how to make your points, and other information about the comment period, go to this NIH web site: deadline for comments is 19 September, 2008, so please make your comments prior to that date.REQUEST FOR INFORMATION #2Topic: Comments on Draft of Strategic PlanDeadline: 30 September, 2008The IACC has finished drafting a plan for autism research, and is now asking for comments on that plan. The best way for you to let IACC know that you feel their draft plan could be of benefit to individuals on the spectrum is to contact the IACC with your own thoughts on the draft plan.A summary of what is proposed in the plan is as follows:+ Children with a higher probability for ASD will be identified by 24 months and receive appropriate assistance.+ Discover how ASD affects development, which will lead to targeted and personalized interventions.+ Causes of ASD will be discovered that inform prognosis and treatments and lead to prevention/preemption of the challenges and disabilities of ASD.+ Interventions will be developed that are effective for reducing both core and associated difficulties, for building adaptive skills, and for preventing the disabilities associated with ASD.+ Communities will implement high quality, evidence-based and cost-effective services and supports across the lifespan for people with ASD.+ Advances in intervention, education and services will support and enable individuals on the autism spectrum to lead fulfilling and productive lives in the community.To get more information about the plan, how to make your points, and other information about the comment period, go to this NIH web site: deadline for comments is 30 September, 2008, so please make your comments prior to that date.
Posted by asansouthwestohio at 9:18 AM