As World Autism Acceptance month begins, we reflect on our blog post from 2018 in which we considered whether or not our community needed to continue the push for awareness or whether we could move to acceptance. Well, if 2020 taught us anything, we’re way past needing awareness.
While our government may be moving toward providing more support for marginalized people, including disability, immigrant, queer, elder, transgender, Black, Indigenous, Asian, and communities of color, we in those communities, however, continue to live and work within an isolating and unjust system. Disabled people continue to make up one of the largest globally disenfranchised groups, with vastly differing rights, services, and treatment toward them depending on the country. And, those with multiple disabilities or differences from society at large may be further restricted and stigmatized.
Given the additional hardships and challenges we all faced in 2020, we at GRASP weighed how we could further bring our mission and vision statements of improving the lives for Autistics, and those with related and co-occurring disabilities and marginalization, and their families to meaningful action.
We all watched as the world suffered in 2020 during the pandemic; communities struggled to keep up with the strain on the medical system, locally, nationally, and globally. The situation was considerably more difficult for Autistic and disabled people due to the fact that accessing healthcare services and supports has been a significant and ongoing challenge and barrier. From the current research, and providers’ own accounts, many healthcare professionals lack the appropriate knowledge and training to serve Autistic adults. Not only do Autistics encounter issues with access to and knowledge of providers, but costs can also be prohibitive.
With this in mind, we decided to expand our free resources that are facilitated by knowledgeable and supportive professionals, who are also members of the Autistic and disabled community, by adding more weekly and monthly online groups. We have included groups for Autistic adults over 50, Black, Indigenous, and people of color, and NT parents, family members, and significant others. We plan to continue expanding this program with groups for Spanish-speaking parents and family members, Autistic parents, and more regional support groups for Autistics in rural communities. By doing this, we can offer information, support, and resources to those who may not otherwise have access to these types of opportunities.
In addition, after years of receiving requests for autism assessments and having limited options for referrals, we have partnered with well-qualified providers to create GRASP Autism Assessment Service. We wanted this service to be a low-cost assessment option for adults 18+ that can allow for financial assistance and flexibility for those who need it most.
With everything that we as a global community have endured since last year, we should all agree that awareness of Autistic and disabled people isn’t enough. We should be firmly entrenched in acceptance. And, with continued effort, we should be looking toward the future and creating programs, services, and educational opportunities that turn that “A” into accessibility, accommodation, and appreciation.