Autism National Committee Mission Statement
AutCom is the first autism advocacy organization dedicated to "Social Justice for All Autistics" through a shared vision and a commitment to positive approaches. Our organization was founded in 1990 to protect and advance the human rights and civil rights of all persons with autism and related differences of communication and behavior. In the face of social policies of devaluation, which are expressed in the practices of segregation, medicalization, and aversive conditioning, we assert that all individuals are created equal and endowed with certain inalienable rights, and that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
The Committee further believes that the principles of social justice can only be upheld through organizational methods which reflect those principles. Just as we envision communities based on the cultivation and support rather than the control of their members, the Committee encourages its individual members and organizational partners toward self-direction and self-empowerment. We welcome the participation of all family members, people with autism/PDD, caring professionals, and other friends who wish to implement, not debate, the right to self-determination by hearing and heeding the voices of people with autism. We have joined together to provide information, support, networking, advocacy, a strong voice in federal legislation and policy, a newsletter, conferences and trainings, a bookstore, a variety of unique publications, and an ongoing reappraisal of fundamental research and treatment issues in the light of what people with autism themselves find meaningful and respectful.
When using any source of information about autism, it is vital to enquire what that source considers autism to be. Many ideas about autism are outdated and have been disproven. Many sources demonstrate a condescending attitude that rules out any possibility of learning from and with the real experts: autistics themselves.
Autism occurs in approximately one out of every 54 births and is more common among males than females. It is found throughout the world in families of all racial, ethnic and social backgrounds. Please refer to "Three Reasons Not to Believe in an Autism Epidemic" by Gernsbacher et al. for a broader perspective on the current figures on the prevalence of autism in the population. While autism was once erroneously believed to arise from stresses in a child's psychological environment, modern medical evidence suggests that irregularities in the development of the brain and central nervous system give rise to the syndrome of autism.
Autism is not an illness or a "thing" a person "has." It is a collection of responses which must be viewed in context, and observation is always more productive than labeling. The autism spectrum is very broad, with individual variations on several key features. Reciprocal social interactions, both verbal and nonverbal, are unusual in quality and generally difficult to synchronize and to carry out. Impairments of the central nervous system typically result in over-reactions, under-reactions, or inconsistent responses to various sensory stimuli. Because sensory input is difficult to organize and control, the individual's activities and interests may appear restricted in their nature and repertoire, frequently involving significant repetition and a need for predictability rather than change. It is important to view the behavior of autistics as meaningful adaptations and to take a positive, respectful approach to them, forgoing the common tendency to judge their competence and capacity on the basis of their sensorimotor challenges.
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