On June 8th, 2021, Autistics United Canada organizing members participated in a virtual regional consultation on deinstitutionalization held by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD). We were asked to submit a written statement of less than 520 words. You can read our statement below.
Statement on Deinstitutionalization for UN CRPD Virtual Regional Consultation
Autistics United Canada calls for an end to isolation, segregation, and discrimination that continues to lock disabled people away in congregate settings, deprives us of our rights and freedoms, and engenders cycles of violence, exploitation, and abuse.
We need to stop building new institutions and sheltered workshops, and close existing ones.
We need to end sanctioned but unethical behavioural interventions that force us to appear non-autistic, teach maladaptive compliance, and make us vulnerable to abuse.
We need to end the devaluation of disabled life, as governments continue to expand assisted dying legislation, enact discriminatory triage protocols, and allow restraint and seclusion in schools and healthcare, while ignoring the negatively racialized and low-income disabled people such policies disproportionately affect.
Instead, we need to be valued as people—whole and complex—who deserve life, safety, and happiness.
We need timely placement in community-based living options, and protection of our right to supported decision-making. We need individualized home supports for independent living.
We need robust, long-term financial supports to ensure a safety net for emergencies and choice for sustainable, individualized services. We need to stop funding institutions and start funding individual people. We need an end to the inaccessible bureaucracy and punitive financial aid systems that keep us in poverty.
We need to ban Applied Behavioural Analysis and other behavioural interventions and instead fund trauma-informed supports focused on neurodivergent thriving.
We need to disrupt the normalized segregation of school-to-prison and special-ed-to-institution pipelines, and centre disabled student voices.
We need to ban restraints and seclusion, and instead implement collaborative strategies for crises based in neurodiversity, anti-racism, and disability justice principles.
We need to make early, affordable communication access, including access to augmentative communication (AAC), a priority for day-to-day and emergency situations. When essential services are incompatible with AAC, we cannot get the help we need.
We need mobile COVID-19 testing and vaccination clinics to ensure those facing barriers to transportation can receive equitable care.
We need to direct families of autistic people towards autistic communities, and hire autistic adults to mentor and support families. We need support across the lifespan, while transitioning practices away from infantilizing, ableist concepts like mental age and IQ.
We need plain language everything in a diversity of languages, including communication about our legal rights.
We need prison and police abolition and decriminalization of sex work. We need mental health legislation reform to prioritize our autonomy in making medical decisions. We need to fund restorative practices and victims services, rather than punitive systems that create more violence and segregation.
We need anti-racist, affordable, accessible mental health services that do not gaslight and abuse us. We need funding for peer support for survivors of medical ableism, psychiatric abuse, and institutionalization.
We need competency training/curricula that centers disabled perspectives in social work, counseling, and education post-secondary programs.
We need to broaden disability support and inclusion into every facet of society.
We need to change public understanding about how much we can know and do.
We need to be in control of the decisions about our lives.
These are not special needs. These are universal needs: for our collective safety, survival, freedom, and humanity.