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The Autism Research Institute’s Statement on Rights, Discrimination, and the Need for Social Change

The Americans with Disabilities Act is meant to protect the disabled -- yet the unique problems presented by the increasing numbers of those on the ASD spectrum stand unaddressed.

The Autism Research Institute calls on governments, corporations, and community agencies to help people with autism thrive and feel accepted as part of society, rather than be subjected to blanket discrimination and exclusion stemming from widespread ignorance.

Three fundamental areas in which much progress must be made are:

  • Education – Students on the autism spectrum are entitled to appropriate instruction. Currently, most teachers do not receive adequate training on how best to teach these students, and many children with ASD are marginalized by school systems.
  • Healthcare -- The healthcare system and the often-adversarial insurance corporations present huge obstacles which nearly all parents of ASD individuals must fight to overcome. ARI implores the medical community to acknowledge the expanding body of scientific literature documenting the gastrointestinal and chronic immune problems that plague a great percentage of individuals with ASD. The insurance industry must end its financial discrimination against these families, by allowing GI and other medical treatment to be covered rather than excluded.
  • Government Assistance Programs -- Most communities offer few or no services as ASD children become ASD young adults. Those agencies that offer adult services typically don’t teach staff how to best handle the needs and behaviors of people with ASDs. ARI calls on governments and on major corporations to create programs aimed at helping young adults with job training, special living situations, and general help for the 1 in 150 (according to Centers for Disease Control estimates, 2007) soon to reach the edge of adulthood, so these individuals can become productive, independent members of society. Our concern is not only for these individuals and their families, but for the economy of the 21st century and the country as a whole.

The Autism Research Institute urges and promotes awareness, education and sensitivity on the part of governmental agencies, elected officials, corporations and businesses, the media, school boards and community organizations. Individuals with autism can never fulfill their maximum potential if they are excluded and ignored. Society must re-evaluate its perception and treatment of individuals on the autism spectrum, and provide them with the same respect, services and opportunities accorded everyone else.