Dear friends and colleagues,
This International Day of People with Disability we want to share with you some exciting changes for our advocacy work.
In 2015, we came together as a grassroots network of families concerned about the lack of representation of autistic voices in policy decisions and public advocacy for autistic children and young people. We are so proud of the work we achieved together and the impact we have made in our communities. We have brought media, government and UN attention to the appalling human rights abuses in Australia’s education system. Autistic Family Collective, through the work of our members, has contributed to Australia’s growing neurodiversity movement and encouraged families with autistic parents and autistic children to be part of autistic culture and creating change in that community.
We have spent time in the second half of this year reflecting on our purpose, and the best use of our time as disabled writers, activists, community-builders and advocates with busy lives parenting and working.
We want to make the greatest impact to create change and uphold rights. This past year, people from all over the world have contacted us sharing stories from their own community, asking for resources, and wanting to join our campaigns. Our advocacy goals are global concerns – for children and young people to be safe and thriving in their families and communities, for an end to abuse and torture of autistics, and for the recognition and support of autistic families (that is families with autistic parents and autistic children)
In light of this, today we re-launch as Autistic Families International. Our mission – creating change in families and communities by educating, encouraging, advocating, and upholding the rights of autistic parents, children and young people. Autistic Families International retains leadership by autistic people who are parents of autistic children, and a commitment to being part of the neurodiversity movement.
As more parents look beyond the medical community for information and support after their child is diagnosed, we will provide resources that encourage and support them to make decisions about education, therapy and parenting that uphold their child’s rights and celebrate their differences. We want to welcome every child and young person to autistic community and bring their families along in the neurodiversity movement.
As families of autistic people start to explore their own neurodivergence, we hope to offer support and encouragement for autistic families, and celebrate autistic ways of parenting and living as a family.
It is a terrible fact that around the world, autistic children are still abused in their homes, segregated in schools and institutionalised. They spend their childhoods engaged in intensive therapies that teach them not to appear autistic. Many children are exposed to dangerous and unregulated ‘treatments’. They are bullied by peers, tortured by carers, and burdened with stigma perpetuated by media and community attitudes.
Autistic parents also face stigma and discrimination. They risk losing their children if they disclose their disability or ask for support. They are frequently disempowered when they attempt to advocate for their children and face the same barriers to engaging in employment and adult education as their disabled peers. The oppression autistic parents face is intensified if they are marginalised in other ways.
Autistic Families International want to create change in our families, and in our communities.
Autistic Families International want to:
- advocate that families and communities value autistic ways of communicating, moving, thinking and being;
- empower parents to make education, therapy and parenting decisions that value their children’s unique developmental trajectory, dignity and childhood;
- provide resources and connections for autistic people to advocate for their own rights, and for their children’s rights;
- work with international groups and processes to uphold our human rights; and
- actively campaign for our vision for a world where autistic people and our families are accepted, valued and included.
We start today with an invitation to join our international community. As a friend of Autistic Families International, you will be the first to access our resources and invited to participate in our campaigns. Please look at the bottom of this page for the link to add your email address to become a friend of afi ↓
You are reading this on our new website which has more information about our current Directors and our mission. Please get in touch if you would like to know more.
Thank you for your support,
Michelle, Leia, Erin and Briannon