Henry Ford said it perfectly “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” For thirteen years, Advocates for Autism of MA have embraced this mission as we work together to improve the lives of those living on the autism spectrum. Our coalition was formed in 2004 when we recognized that as one unified group of Autism advocates, our voices would be heard much louder and clearer. On Monday, April 10th we gathered at the Massachusetts State House for our 10th Annual Autism Awareness and Acceptance Day. An opportunity for us to highlight both legislative and budgetary priorities within the state’s Autism community as well as a chance to share accomplishments, visions and concerns.
The focus on what needs to be done in the upcoming legislative session was represented in our theme ‘Advocacy Across the Lifespan’. Children on the spectrum become adults on the spectrum. How can we as a community work together to better serve them? Family stories were told which provided a chance for our legislators to hear and see that REAL people are impacted by the decisions they make when they vote for or against a program or piece of legislation or budget line item. Just as important as talking about what is next, is acknowledging what has been done and who has been instrumental in making change happen. This year we honored Rep. John Scibak as the Distinguished Legislator of the Year. Rep. Scibak for his unwavering commitment to the autism community during his time in the legislature.
As a parent to an 18 year old boy on the spectrum, I will never stop advocating for all I can do to make his life better. I advocate for him, but I advocate for all families and self-advocates, because we are all in this together. We can only make things better if we continue to focus on the needs of all autistics. Autism Awareness and Acceptance Day is our day to be seen and heard, and to put a face to the autism community.
All my best,
Project Director, Autism Insurance Resource Center