The following blog is by Shelley Hendrix, Autism Speaks' director of grassroots development.
Over the last decade, I have witnessed our community, comprised of ordinary people, accomplish extraordinary things to make our country a better place. In addition to passing a law that has appropriated over $1.5 billion in federal research funding specifically for autism spectrum disorders, we have passed legislation in 34 states to help end discriminatory practices against people with autism who need improved access to medical treatments and therapies.
There is so much more work to be done though. For the last two years, our battle cry has been “Our 1 in 88 can’t wait!” We need a national plan now to address treatments that translate directly to the patient and help people with autism now, that addresses housing and jobs for the fast growing population of adults with autism. We need a plan that addresses those still caught in the gap where there is no insurance coverage for medical treatments, a plan that addresses wandering and also our education system.
So as our battle cry evolved in 2013, we added “and everyone can help.”
The idea behind that is that everyone, including people with autism themselves, can advocate for change to improve the lives of those living with autism. But in order to move faster and accomplish more things, we changed the battle cry once again to include “so take 5 to advocate.”
What does that mean?
It means that everyone can help by talking about these issues with everyone you meet in your daily life. Learn more about the federal initiatives we are working on through Autism Speaks or the state-based insurance reform initiatives and then tell your dry cleaner, the check out lady at Target, the teller at the bank. Practice saying why this is an important issue to you and why it should be important to them.
That does two things.
First, it increases your confidence to talk about these issues in a succinct manner with a persuasive argument. Practice makes perfect. Secondly, once you have that little pitch down pat, you can easily deliver it to your political officials.
And why should you do that?
Because what we have learned over the last decade is that -- if you identify a problem, develop a solution and bring it to your political leaders -- you can affect change through a private/public partnership. Children today will be born in states all over this country and go on to be diagnosed with autism, but their parents have yet to discover what it is like to have a health insurance company discriminate and deny claims for treatments and therapies.
We have to do more. To help you learn how to do more, we have developed the following survey which will allow us to better ascertain how our community currently spends its their time advocating, what issues are most important to you, and how we can interact with you better to encourage you to participate and engage more in the process for change. We would really appreciate if you would take a few minutes to let us know what you think.
Our hope is that after this initial survey, we will be able to dig a little deeper into the issues that are more important to you as we move through the month of April so most of these questions are very basic to help us shape how those other surveys will be written. There is a section that asks for basic demographic information – your age, sex, household income – and you do have the option to skip that section but if you don’t mind filling that in, it will help us as we compare and contrast the answers within the community.
In exchange for your attention and participation, you will get a special PROMO code that you can use to get some gear for Autism Awareness Month in our store!
So use your voice and share your opinions and let’s rock 2014 together!
Take The Survey HERE!