AFAM
Advocates for Autism of Massachusetts
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About Advocates for Autism for Massachusetts (AFAM)


Advocates for Autism of Massachusetts was formed in 2004 to address the need for public advocacy on behalf of individuals, families and professionals who have or deal with people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) which also encompasses Asperger's Syndrome and high-functioning Autism. The organization provides an important arena for mobilizing those of us who deal with ASD in our day-to-day lives as the most eloquent and persuasive spokespeople for our concerns. Our efforts focus not only on the State House but also on towns and city halls that also have responsibility for service delivery and funding.


Mission  

Advocates for Autism of Massachusetts will strive to assure the human and civil rights of individuals of all ages across the entire Autism Spectrum and promote the availability of essential supports so that they may live fully and enjoy the same opportunities as other citizens of the Commonwealth.  We will educate individuals with ASD, their families and other AFAM members/supporters to be effective, vigorous agents of change.

Guiding Principles

In our work we will:

• Assure respect and dignity for individuals with ASD and their families by promoting positive views and valued roles for children and adults with ASD
•  Seek to identify and eliminate the barriers facing people with ASD in Massachusetts
• Work in partnership with policy makers, educators, practitioners, disability groups and other advocates to build consensus and momentum for improving and expanding supports and resources for people with ASD
• Seek ways to empower people with ASD and their families to direct the course of their lives with needed, flexible supports and take full advantage of available resources
• Recognize that each person with ASD is unique and that the most effective supports are those that are individualized.
• Work to include individuals with ASD in all aspects of AFAM’s efforts.


Autism

Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that inhibits a person's ability to communicate, respond to surroundings and form relationships. It is associated with rigid routines and repetitive behaviors. Symptoms can range from very mild to quite severe. It is part of a group of disorders known as Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Today, 1 in 68 individuals in the US is diagnosed with an ASD, Which makes it more common than pediatric cancer, diabetes, and AIDS combined. It occurs in all racial, ethnic, and social economic groups and is 4 times more likely to strike boys than girls.


AFAM History

Fifteen years ago, there were virtually no supports for children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and their families in Massachusetts. (ASD includes autism, PDD and Asperger's.) Now there are Autism centers across the Commonwealth, providing support and services to families with children and adults with ASD.
As many of you know, the centers have been meeting for many years, using their collective power to advocate for individuals with ASD and their families. For a number of years, the statewide Coalition for Autism has hosted an Autism Awareness Day at the State House, which has been an important vehicle for keeping the needs of our children in the minds and hearts of our elected officials.

The growing demand for support and services has made clear the need for full-time representation to give our families a voice on Beacon Hill. To provide this voice, the support centers, in conjunction with The Arc of Massachusetts and with support from the Flutie Foundation and the Centers, formed a new organization, Advocates for Autism of Massachusetts (AFAM) in 2004.

Now 13 years old, this grassroots membership organization of families and concerned citizens serves as the primary advocacy vehicle protecting the rights and needs of individuals with ASD and their families throughout the state.

AFAM provides families with an ongoing presence on Beacon Hill! We advocate vigorously for resources not only in the legislature but throughout state government. Without the united front presented by AFAM, this would not be possible. Even the current supports that families count on could be at risk.

The organizations that compose the Coalition for Autism provided significant financial resources to help launch AFAM. Another important component of AFAM's funding plan is through voluntary contributions from individuals, families, professionals, and corporate sponsors.


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This web site was last updated 22 September 2017

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