Autism NOW Center

by Paula C. Durbin-Westby

Recently ASAN became a partner organization on the Autism NOW National Resource and Information Center. The Autism NOW Center is a grant to the Arc via the Administration on Developmental Disabilities (ADD). The Center’s goals are to disseminate information and resources about autism to a wide range of people, including Autistic people, parents, and others interested in autism.

ASAN has several roles with the Autism NOW Center. One of the subcontracted services we provide is the Co-Director position. I am Co-Director of the Center, with a variety of roles and tasks assigned to me. One of my most important jobs at the Center, which is not in my job description, is to teach staff at the Center and at the Arc about autism from the perspective of someone who is Autistic. Since Center staff come from a variety of backgrounds in the developmental disability world, not everyone has direct experience with Autistic people. Another important duty of the Co-Director is liaison with the Center’s Advisory Committee. Currently we are still working on staffing the Advisory Committee, and working toward having a majority of people who identify as having a disability- Autistics and people with other developmental and intellectual disabilities. I will write more about the Committee in future issues of the newsletter. My Co-Director’s page is here; I will be adding to it from time to time and also writing for the Center’s e-newsletter from time to time: http://autismnow.org/about/from-the-co-director/

ASAN also has several other important roles with the Center. We are taking the lead in developing the Center’s Core Values statement. ASAN chapters in five regions of the country will lead focus groups on ethics and values of the Autistic, autism, and developmental disability communities. ASAN will also develop an online survey on ethics and values. The results of the focus groups, survey, and other input will form the basis for a final report and Statement of Core Values.

ASAN is also working to develop a number of self-advocacy tools. Current self-advocacy projects include college and rural self-advocacy issues. In February, Scott Robertson presented a webinar for the Center on “Transition from Childhood to Adulthood: Perspectives from an Autistic Self-Advocate Researcher.” We will also be involved in outreach and dissemination activities on behalf of the Center including participation in five Regional Summits, more webinars, and resource sharing.

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