Hello everyone! Here are some updates on what’s been happening in the different chapters of Autistics United Canada. It's a long one--we have been busy since our last update!
BC Accessibility Legislation
BC members of Autistics United met with the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction to discuss the autistic community’s priorities for the historic BC accessibility legislation in the making. We also attended the in-person sessions held by the BC government in Comox Valley and Vancouver.
We teamed up with the Neurodiversity Listening Society to host an input session for autistic and neurodivergent people across BC, to generate a report to submit to the government.
We will keep meeting with the Ministry in the coming months to ensure autistic voices are represented in the new law. This means we need to hear from you! Our online survey is still open for comments: https://forms.gle/xZjGifqHFZYnzfCbA
Our Stories, Our Voices: Autistic Intergenerational Storytelling Event
Our Stories, Our Voices is a storytelling event connecting autistics of all ages, held on August 25th. The event aimed to provide social stories by and for autistic people, rather than the neurotypical-centred social narratives we often encounter. A picture-book making session followed the storytelling itself.
Protest Against Autism Speaks
Members of Autistics United Vancouver protested against Autism Speaks Canada at their walk on October 6th in Richmond. The protesters stood on the sidelines of the walk and held signs, handed out pamphlets, and told passersby about the issues with Autism Speaks. We invited them to consider the neurodiversity perspective and positive alternatives. The protest was covered by several media groups. We made the front page of The Province!
We also had coverage from CBC, News 1130, and Richmond News.
Summer Fire Roast Potluck
There was a potluck for autistic people in Comox Valley on August 14th at the Kin Beach Provincial Park. Autistic people in the area brought food and beverages to the event and enjoyed a bonfire and the natural scenery.
There was a game night at the Courtenay Vancouver Island Regional Library on October 9th. The event included coffee and snacks as well as board games for attendees to enjoy.
Protest Against Autism Speaks
Autistics United Fort McMurray protested against Autism Speaks alongside Neurodiversity YMM at the Autism Speaks walk in Edmonton on September 15th. The protesters wore red shirts to represent autistic pride, spoke to families about the neurodiversity movement, and referred people to further information about autism acceptance and pride.
Booth at Pride
Autistics United Fort McMurray attended the PRIDE YMM celebration at Jubilee Plaza on August 24th. The group answered questions about neurodiversity and held an interactive activity encouraging infodumping.
Collaboration with Manitoba Theatre for Young People
A major children's theatre, Manitoba Theatre for Young People, is putting on a play next year called Spelling 2-5-5, which has an autistic character. Autistics United Manitoba will be consulting on this play, which includes giving input on study guides for schools, and being involved with talkbacks after the show.
Autistic Pride Day
Autistics United Manitoba had a successful Autistic Pride Day picnic at Assiniboine Park. The event was held on June 15th and included snacks and outdoor games.
Unspoken Film Screening
The Nova Scotia chapter held a screening for the film “Unspoken” in Dartmouth on October 26. The film describes the life and experiences of Emma Zurcher-Long, a non-speaking autistic person who uses AAC to communicate. After the screening, participants had a discussion about the film and its contents, and the importance of respecting all forms of communication. More film screenings are planned for next year!
Article about Anti-Vaccination
Halifax Today released an article about the recent meeting between MLA Steve Craig and a known anti-vaxxer. He mentioned the meeting in a Twitter post which he subsequently removed, issuing an apology for the meeting. The article mentions Autistics United and quotes chapter leader Alex Kronstein discussing the situation.
Autistics United Canada is holding a fundraiser to raise money for improving accessibility at events, including ASL interpretation, braille transcription, sensory equipment and stim toys, and more. Donate through fundrazr to support Autistics United and help us make autistic-led events and projects accessible for everyone!
#AutisticsVote Federal Election Toolkit
Members of Autistics United worked on creating a toolkit to help autistic people vote at the November election. The toolkit includes information about Canada’s political system, the federal election and its candidates, and the process of registering to vote and voting at the polls.
Talking to Your MP About Autistic Self-Advocacy
We have a toolkit available to help people reach out to and work with their MPs on matters relating to autistic self-advocacy. The guide includes information on finding your MP and making a meeting, advocating during the meeting, and following up after the meeting.
The toolkit was by the Autistic Advocacy Coalition of Canada. Autistics United Canada is a member organization of the AACC.
Report to the United Nations Committee Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Autistics United submitted a report to the 22nd Session of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which was held August 26th to September 20th. The report highlighted areas of concern for autistic people in Canada in relation to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The report focused on a variety of areas, including the right to life, education, accessibility, and employment.
International Day of Protest Against ABA
The second International Day of Protest Against ABA (started by the Nova Scotia chapter of Autistics United) was held on August 31st. The protest featured hashtags such as “#SayNoToABA” and “#InternationalDayOfProtestAgainstABA”, and included information about the ways in which ABA is harmful to autistic people.
To counteract Canadian Autism Awareness Month, Autistics United held a social media campaign to highlight the achievements of autistic people, giving spotlights to 31 autistics in our community. We could not talk about everyone but will do it again next year!
The name Autober was coined by Albertan member Riki Entz, and Christopher Whelan took the lead in creating the posts.
Autober 2019 posts can be found on Fort McMurray and National Facebook pages.
International Day of the Stim
The International Day of the Stim was created by our colleagues at A4A to celebrate stimming and its significance. Members of Autistics United participated in the event, which included posts on Facebook and Twitter about the importance of stimming and stimming positivity.
Media Coverage about the National Autism Strategy
Autistics United was featured in an article by City News 1130 about the shortcomings of the national “autism strategies” discussed by campaigners in the 2019 election. Vivian Ly pointed out the importance of improving things for all disabled people, rather than singling out autistics. The article also mentioned the Federal Election Toolkit released by Autistics United around that time.
Interview about Issues with Blue Pumpkin Campaign
Vivian Ly was featured in a video by City News 1130 about the blue pumpkin campaign. Vivian highlighted the issues with requiring autistic children to out themselves to participate in trick-or-treating, and the risk of confusing the campaign with the use of teal buckets to show which houses have non-food offerings on Halloween.
We are currently working with other autistic-led advocacy organizations across the nation to establish the Autistic Advocacy Coalition of Canada (AACC)! Stay tuned for updates on our Twitter.