Foundation Guide

A Tour of Our Global Community of Giving

Foundation Guide

A Tour of Our Global Community of Giving

 Autistic Self Advocacy Network

Autistic Self Advocacy Network - ASAN

Autistic Self Advocacy Network
PO Box 66122
Washington, DC 20035
[email protected]

Foundation Guide - ASAN


The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) is a nonprofit organization run by and for autistic people.

ASAN works to promote the principles of the disability rights movement with specific reference to autism. Its motto – Nothing About Us Without Us – sums up its mission to ensure that the autistic community’s voice is first and foremost in the public dialogue about disability rights, so that autistic people have a say in the laws and policies that affect them.

ASAN strives to change the way autism is perceived, shifting focus away from the misguided search for a ‘cure’ and on to empowerment and support for autistic people so that they can enjoy the goals of the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990); equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living and economic self-sufficiency.

Supported Causes

As an organization run by autistic people, ASAN has clear and specific positions on the issues that are important for the autistic community and how to address these issues to meet the community’s real needs. It supports all kinds of autism advocacy, including policy and legislative, to make society more inclusive for autistic people.

ASAN is also active in the broader disability rights movement. Driven by a strong belief in cross-disability advocacy and collaboration, it maintains significant partnerships with other self-advocate controlled organizations as well as parent and provider organizations of joint interest.

The Foundation's History

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network was co-founded in November 2006, by Ari Ne’eman and Scott Michael Robertson, in response to lack of representation of autistic voices in the prevailing public dialogue on autism.

ASAN’s early work mostly focused on advocating against the use of aversion therapy, restraint, and seclusion in special education. The organization came to public attention in December 2007 after its successful protest campaign against the NYU Child Study Center’s “Ransom Notes” billboards, which had compared autism to a kidnapper holding children hostage.

ASAN continued to grow as an all-volunteer organization, developing a chapter network and subsequently a national profile. In January 2011, the organization acquired tax-exempt status which enabled it to access funding through grants, and hire staff members for the newly-established main office in Washington, DC.

Today, ASAN has a network of 25 local chapters based in different states, with three chapter affiliates in Canada and Australia.

Projects and Programs

ASAN has a wide range of activities and projects, including public policy analysis, technical assistance, community based participatory research, and other initiatives to help inform decision-makers and the general public about autism and the opinions and needs of autistic people. It publishes a variety of books, toolkits, and reports on various topics of importance to the autistic community.

The ASAN Action Center provides information about important policy issues and tools to help self-advocates get involved in legislative advocacy.

ASAN’s recurring projects include Disability Day of Mourning on March 1st, Autism Acceptance Month in April, and an annual Autistic Campus Inclusion summer leadership academy.

Due to its involvement in the broader disability rights movement, a significant amount of ASAN’s policy work and technical assistance activities have a broader focus on disability in general, and it is a member of many advocacy coalitions.

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