Fifteen years ago, there were virtually no supports for children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and their families in Massachusetts. (ASD includes autism, PDD and Asperger's.) Now there are Autism centers across the Commonwealth, providing support and services to families with children and adults with ASD.
As many of you know, the centers have been meeting for many years, using their collective power to advocate for individuals with ASD and their families. For the past six years, the statewide Coalition for Autism has hosted an Autism Awareness Day at the State House, which has been an important vehicle for keeping the needs of our children in the minds and hearts of our elected officials.
The growing demand for support and services has made clear the need for full time representation to give our families a voice on Beacon Hill. To provide this voice, the support centers, in conjunction with the Arc of Massachusetts and with support from the Flutie Foundation and the Centers, formed a new organization, Advocates for Autism of Massachusetts (AFAM).
Now ten years old, this grassroots membership organization of families and concerned citizens serves as the primary advocacy vehicle protecting the rights and needs of individuals with ASD and their families throughout the state.
AFAM provides you and your family with an ongoing presence on Beacon Hill! We advocate vigorously for resources not only in the legislature but throughout state government. Without the united front presented by AFAM, this would not be possible. Even the current supports that you count on could be at risk.
The organizations that compose the Coalition for Autism have already provided significant financial resources to help launch AFAM. Another important component of AFAM's funding plan is through donations. Without your support, AFAM simply will not exist. From one parent to another, I ask you to join me in supporting AFAM through a voluntary contribution of any amount. Together, we can make a difference at the local and state levels, and ultimately, at the national level.
Chairman, AFAM Executive Committee