Bringing together people with Autism Spectrum Disorders, their families, their friends, their advocates and those who provide support,
Advocates for Autism of Massachusetts (AFAM) speaks with one voice to build the capacity of our communities to welcome, fully include and support people with ASD
In the 1990’s there were virtually no supports for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) or their families in Massachusetts. Families mobilized, and with financial support from the Department of Developmental Services and private donors, Autism Support Centers across the Commonwealth began to grow. Seven regional Autism Support Centers currently support thousands of families and professionals each year. The Centers provide services such as: support groups, information, referrals, family activities and events, educational and therapeutic programs for people with autism and their siblings, and community partnerships to area businesses.
Eventually, the growing demand for support and services made clear the need for full time representation to give our families a voice on Beacon Hill. To provide this voice, in 2004 the Autism Support Centers, in conjunction with the Arc of Massachusetts, and with generous financial support from the Flutie Foundation, formed a new organization, Advocates for Autism of Massachusetts or AFAM.
Since 2004, AFAM, a grassroots organization of self-advocates, families and concerned citizens, has served as the primary advocacy vehicle protecting the rights and needs of individuals with ASD and their families. Each year AFAM has organized and sponsored an Autism Advocacy Day at the Massachusetts State House, which has been an important means for keeping the needs of people with autism in the minds and hearts of our elected officials. AFAM also advocates year round on legislation and budgetary proposals affecting people with ASD and their families.
YOU have an important voice and a stake in AFAM’s work! We encourage you to get involved by signing up to receive AFAM’s quarterly newsletter and periodic Action Alerts. Individuals like you are vital to AFAM’s success since legislators prefer to hear directly from their constituents. It’s personal stories from individuals and families that have the most lasting impact and can effectuate positive change! Email AFAMoffice@yahoo.com if you are interested in volunteering your time and talents. AFAM also welcomes financial donations to support our mission. Donations should be tax deductible. AFAM looks forward to your involvement to maintain the vibrancy of our organization. Together, we can make a difference for people with autism at the local, state and national levels.
Since its founding in 2004, AFAM has vigorously advocated for – and achieved – a number of major successes.
• Leading role in advocating for the landmark Omnibus Autism Bill, which passed both houses of the legislature unanimously and was signed by the Governor in August 2014
• Passage of An Act Relative to Insurance Coverage for Autism (ARICA), 2011
• Establishment of the Autism Division within the Department of Developmental Services
• Passage of the Augmentative and Alternative Communications Bill
• Passage of the Anti-Bullying Bill
• Publication of a study, Awash in Autism: Why We must Begin to Address the Critical Need for Services for Adults with Autism in Massachusetts
• Establishment of the Autism Commission, whose 2014 report set forth a broad range of priorities
• Sponsorship of the annual Autism Advocacy Day at the State House each April
• Conducted legislative briefings to inform elected officials of the needs of people on the autism spectrum
• Provided regular oral and written testimony at public hearings on pending legislation affecting people with ASD and their families
• Collaborated with other groups in the disability community to promote legislative and budgetary priorities we have in common
• Conducted MassHealth forums to provide families with updated information
• Conducted surveys of autism families about unmet needs
• Sponsored a day-long Housing Conference in 2015 to provide stakeholders an opportunity to share points of view and to brainstorm various housing options that may be appropriate for people living on the autism spectrum
• Collaborated to develop the “Autism Housing Think Tank”
FIFTEEN YEARS OF AFAM
Thank you to all who attended this unforgettable celebration
AFAM’s advocacy strength is due to you — our community — ensuring everyone’s voice is heard. Learn more about our award recipients and check out our new video for a poignant reminder of why AFAM does the work that it does.Awardees and Event Media Here
AFAM’s FY24 Legislative Priorities
March 2023 marks the start of the 36th month since the announcement of the state of emergency. At that time, thousands of persons with disabilities lost access to day programs or related services. Many of those have not been able to return to day services. Over 3,000 have turned 22 years of age, with the FY24 transition age class of graduates being the highest in history. Individuals with complex medical or behavioral conditions or otherwise requiring 1:1 assistance are the largest underserved or unserved group. These are individuals who need it the most, and the isolation, along with caregiver stress, is profound.
-We ask that the legislature increase the Chapter 257 reserve to ensure that staff compensation is consistent with the 75th percentile of similar occupations listed in the Mass. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
-Maintain $200 Million investment in MassHealth for day programs (Day Habilitation/Day Health)
-Increase DDS Employment/Day by $5.6 Mil of A rate funding to serve 450 adults who need 1:1 services and language.
Your Donations Matter
We extend our sincere appreciation to all those who provided financial support to AFAM. Your contributions make our continued advocacy efforts possible.
Our Member Organizations
AFAM’s member organizations come from across the Commonwealth, representing the diversity of the autism spectrum.
1 in 36
children are diagnosed with ASD
have never had a paying job at 25
have an intellectual disability
HAVE A QUESTION? WANT TO VOLUNTEER? WANT TO SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER?
WE WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU!