Aspies For Freedom (AFF) is a group which claims to be at the forefront of the autism rights movement, a term coined by the organization. The term "Aspies" refers to those with Asperger syndrome, but the group also welcomes anyone on the autism spectrum.
The aim of Aspies For Freedom is to educate the public that the autism spectrum is not always a disability, and that there are advantages as well as disadvantages. For this purpose, the group organizes an annual Autistic Pride Day. The group also campaigns against abusive forms of therapy, and against the idea of a cure for autism. The AFF hopes to have autistic people recognized as a minority status group.
Established in 2004 by Amy and Gareth Nelson, AFF has received supportive letters from such autism experts as Simon Baron-Cohen, Tony Attwood and Donna Williams, as well as press from publications such as New Scientist magazine.
The protest against National Alliance for Autism Research, by then-AFF member Joe Mele, was the first anti-cure protest by an autistic person. The protest received international media coverage. Seen as a pivotal moment in the history of the autistic community, Mele's protest was followed shortly by a protest against NBC's Autism Speaks campaign. There was also a protest against Cure Autism Now in 2005, and there is a current protest against the Judge Rotenberg Center for its use of electric shocks on autistic children.
Aspies For Freedom has an ongoing aim to have members of the autistic community recognised as a minority status group. This started in November 2004 after discussion and debate with members, after which a statement was released called 'Declaration of the autism community'. This detailed reasons for seeking such official recognition from the United Nations and the work continues towards achieving this.
The usage of the infinity symbol as a representation of autism, started by Aspies For Freedom in June 2004, was a reaction to the negative connotations associated with the jigsaw symbol commonly used by parents to represent autism. The jigsaw symbol is seen by much of the autistic community as an insulting reference to the fact that autistics can appear puzzling, in need of "fitting in" with society, or as having "a bit missing". It was felt that the infinity symbol better represents autistics by representing logic, persistence, perseverance, and unity of form.
The website of Aspies For Freedom contains other resources for autistic people more oriented towards personal experiences of an autistic, including: message forums and video programming. The group also runs an IRC chat network for autistic people on chatautism.com.
- ↑ Autistic Licence. Times Online. URL accessed on 2007-11-08.
- ↑ includeonly>Trivedi, Bijal. "Autistic and proud of it", New Scientist, 18 June 2005. Retrieved on 2007-11-08.
- ↑ includeonly>Harmon, Amy. "How About Not 'Curing' Us, Some Autistics Are Pleading", New York Times, December 20, 2004. Retrieved on 2007-11-07.
- ↑ PRWeb, Press Release Newswire (November 18, 2004). Declaration From the Autism Community That They Sre a Minority Group. Press release. Retrieved on 2007-11-07.