An autism friendly community is a welcoming place for individuals and families impacted by autism.

Autism McLean and its partners identified six quality-of-life aspirations for being an Autism Friendly Community.

6 aspirations for being an autism friendly community:

AFC labeled

Welcome me
Expand awareness, informed service, social supports and civic engagement opportunities for people with autism

Learn with me
Create educational opportunities for people with autism

A Place for me
Ensure appropriate housing, neighborhood and transportation for people with autism

Wellness for me
Provide healthcare and wellness opportunities for people with autism

Work with me
Employ people with autism in meaningful jobs and careers

Recreation for me
Create play and leisure opportunities for people with autism

What does “autism friendly” mean?

There are many ways this can be expressed. The autism spectrum is broad and so are the ways to support and include people with autism.

What we’ve learned so far —

An Autism Friendly Community means:

  • Inclusion
  • Self-determination and independence
  • Access to resources and support
  • Respect and awareness
  • Opportunity for friendship
  • Community engagement
  • Accessibility… and much more.

An Autism Friendly Community means eliminating:

  • Invisibility
  • Bias, bullying and victimization
  • Lack of resources and supports
  • Lack of control and choices
  • Unemployment
  • Poverty and financial disadvantages

A Lifetime Endeavor—for the community and for individuals

Autism doesn’t end with childhood. It lasts a lifetime.

People with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) face many challenges throughout their life span. In some cases, the challenges and impairments are severe, in others’ they may be minimal, hidden or not immediately obvious. Despite those challenges, people with ASD have many strengths. Inclusion means inviting individuals to use their strengths, to make real contributions to society.

Community understanding of autism is critical to improving outcomes for children and adults with ASD. Self-advocacy — or the meaningful involvement of individuals with autism in making policy at all levels — is also essential to this process. An Autism Friendly Community will support self-advocacy, as well as advocacy by family members and other autism allies. By listening to input from those living with autism, the community can advance public policy initiatives that will provide needed improvements in the quality of life and full access to society for people on the spectrum.

Would you like to learn more?

Check out our whitepaper (2018) about local autism needs and opportunities in McLean County, Illinois.