UC Davis Autism Awareness Association (AAA): Please have more self-advocates on the board.
  • Petitioned Chelsea Boon

This petition was delivered to:

Chelsea Boon

UC Davis Autism Awareness Association (AAA): Please have more self-advocates on the board.

    1. Chelsea .
    2. Petition by

      Chelsea .

      N/A, CA

December 2012


From petition creator Chelsea: The campus club informed me that they will start to make changes as of 2013. I am now volunteering to be a candidate for a new officer. Thank you very much, everyone!

The AAA was started by an autistic student Jay Lytton in 2007. His goals were to educate the students about autism, and create a safe environment for both autistics and others who have connections with autism.



But ever since he has graduated, the club has allowed non-autistic students to dominate the discussion of autism. Along with that, the club supports an organization which autistics have universally disagreed with for years: Autism Speaks.


As well-intentioned as these non-autistic students may be, how will autistic students feel welcomed into Davis when very few of their leaders are also autistic? Going to college is especially challenging for someone on the spectrum, so the best advice will always come from someone who has been through a similar experience. And those trying to understand their autistic family members can also benefit from listening to autistic adults.


I advise the AAA to start calling for autistic applicants, use materials funded by the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (such as the Navigating College handbook), and invite autistic guest speakers.


This can be done without invading the privacy of autistics who do not wish to disclose. Encouraging autistics, as a whole, to speak up about their rights, is not the same as pressuring certain individuals to talk about their diagnosis.





Recent signatures


    1. Reached 10 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Sue Fielding RIO LINDA, CA
      • over 1 year ago

      My son is high-functioning autistic and we strive everyday to give him more opportunities for self-advocacy

    • Vicki Booros ROSEVILLE, CA
      • over 1 year ago

      I have an Asperger's son - there is NO way that someone who is not autistic or closely in contact with someone autistic can relate to their reality - having a board made up of non-aspies and non - autistics doesn't make sense if the group is truly trying to understand and embrace this group of very talented and very bright people.... remember how many of our most successful business developers and owners in today's world are Aspies.... look it up - you would be shocked - it is a wonderful testament to the abilities of children and adults like my son.

      • over 1 year ago

      There is a few things we would like to clarify:

      We have never, nor will ever, deny an applicant a formal officer position due to a disability. We had and currently have, officers with disabilities. Please understand that these individuals have kept their disabilities to themselves for personal reasons. Also, no one has openly claiming to be from the spectrum has ever applied for an officer position for the past three years. If someone on the spectrum is interested in becoming an officer then they are more than welcome to apply, and we will be happy to have them as an officer. Until that point, we do not want our name being publicized with claims that we have turned away those with disabilities. So far, every person who has applied to be an officer has been granted a title.

      We do not like the idea of separating people into categories such as "normal people" and "autistic people". Our co-founder Jay Lytton's philosophy was to "put the person first, then the disorder." While your statement regarding Jay's goal for the club was correct, but it was taken out of context. We have held Jay's view for the club to the best of our abilities. We have continued to educate others regarding autism, while providing a safe environment for those directly affected. Next quarter, we plan on having activities where we socializing in small groups, with hopes of creating a safer, smaller environment for individuals to discuss their ties with autism. We would like to let you know that it would be unprofessional of us to go against Jay's beliefs if we were to formally pursue a club that is specifically for people with autism. The person comes first and, whether they are autistic or not, everyone is welcomed in our club and has the right to keep their personal lives private.

      In regards to the Autism Speaks walk, we only did the walk to support the research. We advertised at our general meetings and our e-mail stating we do not like and support the message that Autism Speaks conveys to people that autism is devastating, and we only support funds Autism Speaks donate to research. Also, Jay is currently a consultant for Autism Speaks. He has been working hard with Autism Speaks to help change the that message, and Autism Speaks has been very open to the idea. Our point is that not all people on the spectrum oppose Autism Speaks. Also, a good portion of the Autism Speaks's fundraisers goes directly to the UC Davis MIND Institute. Again, we have maintained neutrality with the issue. While we oppose the way Autism Speaks have been advertising their cause, we still support funding for autism research and attend the event because we believe research is necessary and that the atmosphere created by walking with thousands of people that have been deeply affected by autism is heart-warming. We want to let you know that we are not directly affiliated with Autism Speaks. If you truly believe that participating in the walk is immoral from our standpoint, feel free to be more vocal about it before next year, many of our officers were torn about attending it from the beginning of the school year.

      When referring to the meetings, we never felt it was our place to approach an individual on the spectrum and ask him or her to speak. If you know someone willing to come to us and offer their time, we would be more than happy to make arrangements for them to speak for the duration of the meeting or even just in the beginning.

      Our club's goal is to promote awareness and education about Autism Spectrum Disorder. That is the goal Jay Lytton left for our club, and we continue to pursue to this day. We aim to inform people about information and resources that are currently available in the community and try to make sure that that information is accurate and is backed by current valid scientific theory regardless who it is from and/or how it is presented. It is important for us as a club to not make judgment about other organizations unless it is kept private. We also offer many opportunities to work directly with people with autism and other developmental disorders through babysitting, care giving, or the Special Olympics, all of which have been advertised in emails, general meetings, and tabling events.

      We hope this clears any misunderstandings and misconceptions about us.

      -Autism Awareness Association

    • Melody Kohut ROCHESTER, NY
      • over 1 year ago

      As an autistic person, I see many instances of NTs trying in earnest to educate people about autism getting it wrong - some descriptions about what it's like are immediately telling to me that this is what a non-autistic person imagines autism to be like, as opposed to what it is really like.

      It is not a sign of bad character to get it wrong provided they are amenable to revising their opinion when being corrected by actual autistic people, but it remains true that non-autistic people have a very different perspective, and the history of disability rights is rife with examples of well-intentioned advocacy from people without the disability in question have perpetuated inaccurate stereotypes about the group with the disability. Often, as is the case with many other types of social privilege, the damaging nature of the myths and stereotypes is completely invisible to the non-disabled person acting out of genuine kindness. Whether that stereotype is that we're all doomed to be miserable and alone or that we're just quirky geniuses who have no need for a more accommodating society, or some other thing (like that every autistic person has no interest in interacting with people, so none can be suitable for a leadership role - patently false, as there are autistic leaders and organizers such as Jim Sinclair or Ari Ne'eman).

    • Zachary Miller ELKGROVE, CA
      • over 1 year ago

      Every person regardless of their disability has a right to leadership


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