This year has been one of the most eventful and challenging in our lifetimes. Looking back on what we've done while facing the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic, the unifying theme has been what we have accomplished together for our collective well-being—through protest, through friendship, through mutual aid and support.
Thank you for supporting Autistics United Canada. We cannot do our work as a volunteer grassroots organization without your support, whether it be donating, providing technical assistance, sharing our work, volunteering with us, speaking up with us, or sharing space with us. For those new to our community: welcome. Let's take on what 2021 brings together.
What We’ve Been Up to in 2020
#AskingAutistics about National Autism and Disability Policy Survey
Images: text inside two red boxes. Text reads: "#AskingAutistics about National Autism and Disability Policy bit.ly/AskingAutisticsCanada" and "##OnDemandeAuxAutistes sur la politique nationale en matière d’autisme et de handicap"]
The federal government has committed to developing a National Autism Strategy. However, autistic people have not been adequately consulted on what we need in federal policy. This is why we launched an #AskingAutistics about National Autism and Disability Policy Survey.
We are still asking autistics to take this survey! It is available:
Image: text in a red box that reads "Autistics United Canada Community Survey".
We consulted the autistic community on what kind of resources, events, and advocacy they would like to see from Autistics United Canada. We did this through two community roundtables in British Columbia and Nova Scotia, along with our Canada-wide survey. This helps us keep our priorities in line with the needs of autistic communities in Canada. We will be releasing a summary document of what we heard later this year.
The survey is still open—take it by clicking here!
Image: yellow text against teal background. Text reads "Neurodivergent hangouts online board games & chat!" Yellow stars in the top right corner and the Autistics United Canada logo of eight interlocking infinity symbols in a rainbow of colours in the bottom left.
In March and April at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we held weekly online hangouts for neurodivergent people. We knew it was important for neurodivergent people to stay connected however we can. These hangouts are continuing again on the last Sunday of every month!
We chat and play online board games in small groups. CART (live captioning) is provided and ASL interpretation upon request.
Register for next one (Feb 28) here: tinyurl.com/NDhangout28
We will be posting information about upcoming hangouts up regularly on our Facebook events page.
Disability Day of Mourning 2020
Image: candle against black background. Text reads "Disability Day of Mourning Remembering people with disabilities murdered by caregivers
On March 1st, 2020, Autistics United chapters held local vigils to honour the lives of disabled people murdered by their caregivers. This annual international event works to bring awareness to these tragedies and to send the message that disabled lives are worth living.
Our next DDOM vigil is happening online on March 1st, 2021. Visit our Facebook event page and stay tuned for more details.
All Brains Are Beautiful Workshops
Twice in May, we hosted our All Brains are Beautiful workshop, an introductory workshop on neurodiversity, autistic identity, disability justice, collective access, inclusive event planning, and more.
We will be hosting this workshop again in the future. Keep a look-out on our social media pages and our mailing list for when the next one will be!
If you attended the workshops and didn’t receive the follow-up materials, please contact us to let us know!
International Day of Protest Against ABA
August 31st is the International Day of Protest Against ABA. Started by an Autistics United Canada organizing member, Protest ABA Day grows bigger every year. Last year, we started a Facebook page, @ProtestABA, and received submissions from autistic survivors of ABA, autistic activists, and allies to continue speaking out against ABA.
Have an article, piece of art, or writing to share about ABA? Send it to us via e-mail or our @ProtestABA Facebook page!
Infodump: Sharing Our Interests
In May, we hosted Infodump, an online social event where autistic people gave 5 minute talks on a topic they were passionate about! We had 8 presenters presented on a variety of topics! We hope to host this type of event again in the future.
COVID-19 Resource List
As the COVID-19 pandemic set in, we worked with Autistics for Autistics Ontario to create a COVID-19 resource list for autistic people. If you have a suggestion for a resource to add to our list, please contact us!
Violence against Autistic People & AAC users
(Content: filicide, abuse)
The past year, autistic people and otherwise disabled people have had our lives uniquely threatened by COVID-19 and the societal inequities that it exacerbated. We have felt the effects of COVID-19 through ableist policies around access to healthcare, education, and basic needs--including essential visitors and AAC access in hospitals. Child abuse rates have risen; filicide of autistic people remains a pressing issue to our community.
Autistics United Canada organizers continue to meet with policymakers to advocate on behalf of our communities. We also know that state violence cannot be entirely solved with state solutions, and we’re working to build online peer support and mutual aid through Facebook and Discord.
In June, we released a statement in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, and included a resource list for people to learn, support, and take action. People of colour, particularly Black and Indigenous people, face disproportionate state violence, which can be compounded by disability status and also create disability.
Disability justice and the liberation of all disabled people requires racial justice. Black lives matter and Black disabled lives matter. Indigenous lives matter and Indigenous disabled lives matter.
Nova Scotia: Petition Against New Institution
In July, Autistics United Nova Scotia petitioned against a Cape Breton institution that was being built for autistic children as young as 2 years old. Autistics United opposes institutions and other forms of segregation and believes that autistic people and their families should be given support to lives within their communities.
Protests Against Anti-Vaccination Film Screening
In February, members of Autistics United Manitoba, Autistics United Nova Scotia, and Autistics United BC protested the screening of an anti-vaccination film that spread misinformation about autism. Vaccines are safe, effective and save lives. We oppose the misinformation and fear-mongering about vaccination and autism perpetuated by anti-vaxxers.
An Autistics United Canada organizing member created an auto-captioning starter guide, which you can find in our resources list, and was interviewed about it and the importance of captioning recently on CBC.
Taking on 2021 Together
If you are interested in getting more involved with Autistics United Canada, consider signing up for our volunteer training! We will be hosting workshops on accessible activism, disability justice, goal-setting, and other skills for volunteers. This training is only open to autistic people.
Sign up: http://bit.ly/AutisticOrganizerTraining
Discord Server for Autistics
We’re setting up a Discord server that will be open to autistic people! This will serve as an online community for discussion, activism, and peer support.
If you would like an invitation to the Discord, please email us at info@AutisticsUnitedCA.org or contact us on our social media.
Upcoming Events: Disability Day of Mourning and Neurodivergent Hangouts
On March 1st, 2021, Autistics United Canada will be hosting the 9th Annual Disability Day of Mourning, a vigil that celebrates and honours the lives of disabled people murdered by their caregivers. This year, the vigil is being held virtually.
Visit our Facebook event for updates: https://www.facebook.com/events/235701151423535
We will continue to host our Neurodivergent Hangouts on the last Sunday of each month.
Visit our Facebook page for updates: https://www.facebook.com/AutisticsUnitedCA/events/
We're Looking for Autistic Artists and Graphic Designers!
To fundraise for future projects, we’re commissioning autistic artists and graphic designers to work with to create merchandise (prints, t-shirts, cups, etc.) with positive messages about autism! The funds will be used to help us host accessible community events with ASL interpretation and CART.
This is a paid opportunity. Autistic BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) are especially welcome. If you are interested, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or through our social media.
Continued Advocacy, Resource-Building, and Community Support
In 2021, we will continue our advocacy for autistic people during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly on our right to access safe and accessible healthcare. We will continue to call for provincial and national policies to be made in consultation with the most marginalized of our communities. We will continue to create and build resources and spaces by autistic people, for autistic people.
Let’s take on the next year together!
Autistics United Canada organizing team