Dear Friends in the California Disability Community,
For many in our community, last week's presidential election brought incredible fear and anxiety. The language and tone of the campaign, particularly as it pertained to the mocking of an individual with a disability, left many people worried about their futures. Will their services, supports, and health care be cut? Will they be bullied? Will they be discriminated against?
I have received many emails, phone calls, and messages expressing these concerns. I even received a request from a friend with autism to borrow money so that he can move to Germany where he feels he will be safe and treated with respect. (I know, the irony of this did occur to me.)
After some thought and a week of perspective - which most definitely is not enough time, but at least it moved me from severe depression to action - I decided that I needed to put my energies into areas where I believe I can make a difference. Thus, I am helping to focus the efforts of the Autism Society of Los Angeles in the following ways and hope that you or your organization will join us in these actions:
- Show individuals with disabilities and their families that we have their backs.
- Offer special counseling, support groups, and meetings in which people can express their feelings.
- Ensure them that we will protect them, no matter what happens.
- Be mindful of signs of depression, isolation, and anxiety.
- Pay special attention to individuals and their families who are immigrant, Latino, Muslim, African-American, gay, or other targeted groups who may face additional fears. Focus on female consumers, who may also feel vulnerable.
- Combat bullying and discrimination at the individual, local and national levels.
- Monitor dialogue, social media, and other communications in our communities.
- Work with other organizations, both within and outside the disability community.
- Connect individuals facing discrimination with appropriate legal organizations.
Fight any proposed cuts or policy changes by the Congress or the administration that could adversely affect individuals with disabilities or their families.
- Focus on cuts and changes to Medicaid and Social Security, which could have dire consequences on funding for regional center services, SSI and IHSS.
- Oppose changes that might water down the Americans with Disabilities Act or the Affordable Care Act.
- Monitor changes to special education, affordable housing, or access to employment that might harm our community.
- Advocate making California a safe haven for individuals with disabilities regardless of federal actions.
- Push for California's legislature and the Governor to pledge to protect Californians with disabilities if significant federal cuts or policy changes occur.
- Advocate for continued funding at current levels regardless of federal matching levels.
- Ensure that the entitlement provided by the Lanterman Act remains intact.
- Accelerate efforts to implement the Self-Determination Program.
What are the next steps?
Join the Campaign to Protect Californians with Disabilities
The Autism Society of Los Angeles plans multiple efforts over the coming months (and years) to convene groups around our common goals. We will also empower individuals and families to advocate against any changes or cuts through trainings and publications.
If you or your organization wants to join us in our efforts, please sign up for our
Campaign to Protect Californians with Disabilities.
We will be developing a committee to help roll out this campaign and will keep you all posted on our activities.
JOIN the Campaign HERE
And please consider becoming a member of the Autism Society of Los Angeles, if you have the means. Membership is very reasonable and we are mostly a volunteer-run organization so our funding goes to planning events, trainings, and our advocacy efforts in Los Angeles and Sacramento.
JOIN the Campaign and ASLA HERE
Two of those events are happening soon and I wanted to invite you (please see flyers below for more information):
- First, we are holding a Community Town Hall on Special Education on Friday, December 9th to allow families the opportunity to speak about their experiences with special education in various school districts in Los Angeles County. Special education leaders from various school districts will be in attendance.
- Second, we have established a Self-Advocates Speakers Bureau in which individuals with disabilities will be trained in presentation skills and then booked for paid speeches in the community to raise awareness about disabilities. We are having our first meeting for interested self-advocates on December 7.
Please feel free to share this email and the flyers to your friends and colleagues.
More than ever before in our lifetimes, we need to come together as a community. Please join us in our efforts. Thanks for all you do.
Government and Community Relations
Autism Society of Los Angeles