Our editorial team frequently discusses our expectations for autism organizations, both internally and during outreach efforts. We thought it time to formalize those expectations here on our site, as a resource for like-minded individuals.
At Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism, we believe organizations that support autistic people must adhere to the following five principles:
- Support, not cure: autism is a naturally occurring human neurological variation and not a disease process to be cured. Medical or health issues that may accompany autism should be addressed independently.
- Evidence-based medical and clinical interventions: from our inception, we have advocated for helping autistic individuals in ways that are based on peer-reviewed empirical studies and which have been deemed effective by the wider scientific and academic communities.
- Inclusiveness: Autistic people must have significant, meaningful, and primary roles in all aspects of the organization, especially at board and executive levels with regards to planning and decision-making. Displaying autistic individuals in advertisements, or claiming to support autistic self-advocacy in cases where autistics have no power within the organization is manipulative and exploitive.
- Acceptance, not stigmatization: All aspects of the organization’s financial cycle, from advertising and fundraising through grants and programs, must be driven by values of inclusion and acceptance of autistic people across the spectrum. Using fear or negative imagery to promote autism awareness degrades and isolates autistic people and their families.
- Advocacy for the human and civil rights of all autistic people: Clear positions must be publically expressed on issues that affect the well being of autistic individuals. Such issues include the use of physical and chemical restraints; the lack of full inclusion in education, work, and housing; and funding for programs that address the immediate needs of autistic people in their communities.