Equity in the Autism Community
Why Equity Matters
As an organization committed to enabling people to live their absolute best lives, we will continue to focus efforts on improving equity and outcomes for vulnerable populations. It’s essential to acknowledge that people of color are disproportionately negatively impacted and experience later autism diagnoses, misdiagnosis, and longer delays from diagnosis to accessing care (see the CDC’s 2020 Community Report on Autism).
Equally important, there continue to be many people on the autism spectrum who need services and support and deserve equitable access to culturally sensitive care. Equitable evaluation and diagnosis as early as possible can help people be connected to the services they need. Access to medical treatment and services, issues around education, suspension rates, and safety are a few of the issues we acknowledge these issues and try to work together to overcome.
How We Are Working on Equity Issues
The CLASE Community of Practice
The Autism Society Inland Empire received a grant from the California Department of Developmental Services (DDS) in 2019 to establish a Community of Practice for groups and non-profit organizations that serve individuals and families with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). This group was named Colaboración, Liderazgo, Abogacía, Servicio y Educación (CLASE) Community of Practice which means Collaboration, Leadership, Advocacy, Service, and Education. This Community of Practice strengthens organizations by providing the latest information on accessing and navigating systems and developing resources to be shared so all groups can be even more impactful in their efforts in improving the lives of the families they serve.
In 2020, we received a second grant from the Department of Developmental Services to expand the Community of Practice. As of June 2020, 34 leaders from 20 different organizations who serve over 16,000 families in Inland Empire are members.
The autism community has a 96% unemployment rate. Working together with our partners such as Inland Regional Center, Department of Rehabilitation, and the State Council on Developmental Disabilities – the Autism Employment Collaborative was born with a focus for improving these outcomes. This included looking at systems to create innovative service to promote accountability, creativity, and stable and sufficient funding streams to support person-centered, meaningful lives.
Individuals who have autism are seven times more likely to have interactions with police. The news is full of tragic stories of individuals with autism who have been shot or arrested. Last year we applied and received a grant from the California Police Officer Standards & Training. We have developed a 4-hour Autism & Developmental Disabilities Curriculum. This training is now being piloted to 240 officers in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. If adopted, it will be used throughout California.
We work with partners to ensure vaccine equity for people with disabilities and to assist, augment and expedite vaccinations for our population in the Inland Empire.