The International Autism Policy Initiative stems from a series of events hosted by Autism Alliance of Canada that convened Autistic people and experts from around the world to discuss strengths, challenges, and opportunities in autism policy development.
During the 8th Annual Canadian Autism Leadership Summit in April 2022, we successfully hosted our first international panel on autism policy: “Towards a Canadian National Autism Strategy: International Learnings and Lessons from around the World.” The panel included policymakers from Canada (Public Health Agency of Canada), the United States (National Institute of Mental Health), United Kingdom (UK Government), Malta (Government of Malta), and Europe (Autism Europe).
We continued to strengthen international relationships and to foster knowledge exchange at the 9th Annual Canadian Autism Leadership Summit in April 2023, and at the United Nations’ 16th session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in May 2023. At those events, we brought together international policy experts to share challenges, best practices, and policy recommendations for the development of rights-based Autism policy.
This series of events shed light on the importance of sharing knowledge across countries and generated momentum which has led to the launch of the International Autism Policy Initiative. This initiative aims to:
- Consolidate what is currently being done across the globe through an international Scoping Review of National Autism Strategies.
- Bring together an expert multi-disciplinary working group to share lessons learned and establish consensus.
- Generate global recommendations for autism policy development.
See below for the projects and initiatives that stem from the International Autism Policy Initiative.
A goal of any autism policy, whether it pertains more to Autistic children, Autistic adults, or caregivers and other actors, should be that Autistic children will become Autistic adults who are content, supported, able to access their rights, and have unlimited opportunities. Autistic people themselves are the only true experts on how to reach that goal. Any autism policy created without Autistic self-advocates with a variety of lived experiences at the forefront will at best have limited success and at worst, harm Autistic people.