Recently, we have been asked if the Autism Society of America agrees with opinions posted by the president of the Autism Society San Francisco Bay Area, which expressed deep concerns with federal regulations on community integration. We feel it is necessary to note that the writings of this person are not the positions of the Autism Society.
The recent posts, which have drawn support as well as oppositions from many in the autism community, contend that the regulations could result in a “nationwide dismantling of autism-friendly adult programs and housing.” The author has stated that the government goal “is to put the brakes on the creation of new residences and programs that cater specifically to adults with autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities.”
We agree with some of the sentiment expressed–that the federal rules and implementation by states of the Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) program should not force individuals with autism into one-size-fits-all housing. We believe options should be available for those who require 24-hour support, as well as those seeking full community integration through person-centered planning. However, we do not question the government’s motives. We remain optimistic that in the end, the federal and state governments will achieve what is best for each individual on the spectrum.
Other posts by the San Francisco affiliate’s president have questioned the actions of individuals and agencies working toward full community integration. We believe those individuals and agencies have every right to promote their position on how best to address the needs of individuals living with disabilities. We often work with them and know they want the best for those they serve.
The federal regulations are being reviewed and implemented on a state-by-state basis. Each state will determine how best to advance community integration for people with disabilities, including autism. Because each state has different needs and resources, we encourage state and local Autism Society affiliates, as well as individuals with autism and their families, friends and caregivers, to become active participants in the process.
Finally, the author of these posts has reviewed a new book on autism, “Neuro Tribes,” and criticized its author, Steve Silberman, for some of his positions. Again, we respect Mr. Silberman’s views. Mr. Silberman writes passionately about autism, its history, and the issues facing so many living on the autism spectrum today. We encourage all to read “Neuro Tribes” as well as “A Different Key,” by John Donvan and Caren Zucker, who also write passionately about autism and its history. These three authors will be speaking at our national conference this July-and we encourage those who can make it to New Orleans to listen and learn.