Autism National Committee

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The Autism National Committee (known also as AUTCOM or AutCom) is an American advocacy association of autistic people and their allies.[1][2] AutCom operates as a non-profit organization.[3] AutCom is the only autism advocacy organization dedicated to "social justice for all citizens with Autism" through a shared vision and a commitment to positive approaches to protect and advance the human and civil rights of all persons with autism, pervasive developmental disorder, and related differences of Communication and behavior.

Autism[edit]

Main article: Autism

Autism is a disorder of neural development characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior. The signs can all begin before a child is three years old. Autism affects information processing in the brain by altering how nerve cells and their synapses connect and organize. How this all occurs is still unknown and not well understood.

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports approximately 9 per 1,000 children are diagnosed with autism.[4] The number of people diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder has increased dramatically since the 1980s, partly due to changes in diagnostic criteria; the question of whether actual prevalence has increased is unresolved.

AutCom Activities and History[edit]

AUTCOM was founded in 1990 to protect and advance the human rights and civil rights of all persons with autism, Pervasive Development Disorder, and related differences of communication and behavior. It was founded by the late Dr. Herb Lovett. In the face of social policies of devaluation, which are expressed in the practices of segregation, medicalization, and aversive conditioning, AutCom asserts that all individuals are created equal and endowed with certain inalienable rights, and that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. As an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, AutCom works to ensure that people with autism and related disabilities are treated equality and with dignity.

In 2012, AutCom published How Safe is the Schoolhouse? An Analysis of State Seclusion and Restraint Policies written by Jessica Butler.[5] The report provides a summary of state restraint and seclusion laws and policies in effect in 2012 for students in school. Approximately 29 states have meaningful legal protections against seclusion and restraint in school.

Public Policy[edit]

AutCom believes strongly that no person should be subject to restraint, seclusion, aversives, or other forms of abuse. Children in school should receive positive supports and accommodations for their disability needs. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that hundreds of children have been subjected to these techniques, including a 7 year old dying after being held face down for hours by staff, and 5 year olds tied to chairs with duct tape and suffering broken arms and bloody noses. According to Unsafe in the Schoolhouse: Abuse of Children with Disabilities [6](J. Butler COPAA 2009), a large number of students who are abused have autism.

AutCom advocates for the right of autistic people to communicate via whatever form of augmentative and alternative communication they choose, including Facilitated Communication (FC), which is a technique involving one person's providing physical assistance to a communicatively impaired individual with the aim of helping the latter point or type. CNN reported on the experiences of some users of FC at AutCom's 2007 conference.[7] In a position paper published in 2008, AutCom argued that FC should not be dismissed but merits full consideration; that research findings are equivocal; and that FC is a valid means of communication for certain individuals (e.g., those who have gone on to type independently or with minimal physical support).[8]

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