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December 2011



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ACTION ALERT: Speak Out Against Chemical Restraint

Last Friday, the New York Times ran an expose documenting the systemic overuse of psychotropic medication by New York’s residential service-provision system for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. According to the Times, people with developmental disabilities in group homes in New York are more likely to be given Ativan, an anti-anxiety drug that also serves as a tranquilizer, than multivitamins. In many cases, psychotropic medication is prescribed as a chemical restraint to control behavior, even when it lacks any therapeutic purpose. Although there are appropriate uses for medication, lack of oversight has led to clear and systemic abuses. No one should be medicated for the purpose of controlling behavior.

This isn’t a new problem. Data from the National Core Indicators project, a national database run by the Human Services Research Institute and the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disability Services, shows that the percentage of people with developmental disabilities receiving psychotropic medications is much higher than the percentage who have the co-occurring mental health conditions which might justify their use. The long term side effects of such inappropriate usage include obesity, diabetes, long term brain damage, injury and even death. As a result, we are asking you to join us in writing to the New York Office of People with Developmental Disabilities and the NY Legislature to tell them to take action against chemical restraint today! Our action alert can be found at: http://www.change.org/petitions/tell-new-york-to-stop-the-chemical-restraint-of-people-with-disabilities

Your voice will help make a difference. Please take the time to send a message to the State of New York that chemical restraint is never appropriate, then pass along the action alert to your friends and family and ask them to do the same. Help us spread the message far and wide.

Thank you for your advocacy,

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network

As we approach the end of the year, many of you will be getting ready to spend the holiday season with your families. As you do, we hope you’ll take a moment to remember all that we’ve accomplished together this year.


From our Navigating College handbook to our Symposium with Harvard Law School on Ethical, Legal and Social Issues in Autism Research, this has been an exciting year for the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. We celebrated our fifth anniversary, engaged in advocacy on critical issues like stopping the Judge Rotenberg Center’s abuse of children, fighting for more public support on critical topics like transition supports, true community integration, stopping restraint and seclusion and more. 


In addition, our programming has helped build a stronger voice for the Autistic community in many sectors of American life. In our Keeping the Promise report, we partnered with other national self-advocacy groups to help define community living resulting in a document now being used by advocates and policymakers nationwide. Through our participation in the Academic Autistic Spectrum Partnership in Research and Education (AASPIRE), we are breaking new ground by ensuring the participation of Autistic voices in the research process. What’s more, 2012 promises to bring even more progress.


In 2012, our new internship program with Freddie Mac will result in new job opportunities for Autistic adults. Our forthcoming Autism Campus Inclusion initiative will help train the next generation of Autistic leaders and build a network of Autistic-run organizations on college campuses across the country. Not to mention our continued advocacy and activism to ensure that wherever autism is being discussed, we have a voice at the table – together.


Will you help support our work to keep the self-advocate voice front and center in 2012? Please consider an end of year donation to the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. With your help, the momentum we have begun this year can continue and build real and lasting change for our shared community. All donations are tax-deductible.



Ari Ne’eman


The Autistic Self Advocacy Network

PS. If you are unable or uncomfortable making donations online, donations can be sent to

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network
PO Box 66122 NW 
Washington, DC 20035

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