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Autism Society of America Releases 2021 Annual Report
Updates and News
The Connection Is You
A Letter From Our Leaders
Written by Christopher Banks, President and CEO, and Tracey Staley, Chair of the Board of Directors.
The Autism Society of America is proud to release our 2021 Annual Report. For 57 years and counting, the Autism Society and our nationwide network of 70+ affiliates, connects people to the resources they need through education, advocacy, support, information and referral services, and community programming. As the nation’s oldest and largest grassroots Autism organization, the work we do is a reflection of both our local community efforts and our expansive reach across the country. We recognize the wide diversity of the Autism experience in terms of needs and support across the lifespan. This makes it clear that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to address the needs, goals, and desires for all individuals with Autism.
In 2021 the Autism Society launched our new brand with updated brandmarks, visuals, and modernized messaging. The previous Autism Society brand was over 20 years old and no longer served the needs of the community. Through this massive undertaking, the Autism Society set out to create a space that was fully inclusive, accepting, and representative of all those in the Autism community from the very beginning of the process. The twenty-month development project evolved with the guidance, insight and feedback of our valued creative partner and over 150 members of the Autism community. Our new brand was designed with the Autism, and is an expression of the community.
The Autism Society is proud and excited to advance our mission to create connections, empowering everyone in the Autism community with the resources needed to live fully. Our vision is to create a world where everyone in the Autism community is connected to the support they need, when they need it. We do all of this while embodying our core values of Dignity, Equity, Inclusion, Diversity, and Integrity.
Over the past year, hundreds of thousands of Autistic individuals and families turned to the Autism Society and its affiliates for information & referral services, support, and to participate in community events. Over 1.2 million people accessed resources and education materials at our National website; 204,295 people attended events across the country, which surpassed our numbers pre-pandemic, demonstrating the desire for connection and community. Relatedly, the Autism Society National Helpline saw a 30% increase in calls and emails from 2020, as more people turn to the organization for trusted, quality support.
In 2021, the global community continued to face challenges and uncertainty related to the Covid-19 pandemic. We recognized that people with Autism and other developmental disabilities are disproportionately impacted by the ongoing public health and economic emergency caused by Covid-19. We established the Autism Society Covid-19 Vaccine Education Initiative focused on advocating for individuals with Autism and developmental disabilities to be prioritized during the vaccine rollout and focused on increasing vaccine confidence. We believe through advocacy, education, and providing educational resources we take the necessary steps to improve the lives of people with Autism, their families, and communities.
In April 2021, the Autism Society of America and our affiliates, continued to lead the effort to advocate for April to be designated as “Autism Acceptance Month,” a progression from “Autism Awareness Month.” Throughout the month, at least 10 states achieved proclamations to officially change the month’s name from direct efforts from affiliates, plus additional local proclamations from the National team, Council of Autistic Advisors, and affiliates.
The Autism Society is thankful for the generous support of our donors for being the connection – allowing us to provide essential services and support in the Autism community. Because of your support, we can continue to develop resources, advocate for inclusive policies and practices at local and federal levels, and build connections – not just to resources – but to each other.
As effective stewards, we continually strive to be responsive and accessible to societal needs, challenges, and opportunities that arise. Through the work of the Autism Society, individuals and families can connect with each other, with resources, and with supports and services so that they may live full, vibrant, self-actualized lives. Thank you to all the individuals, families, corporations, and foundations that have played a crucial role in fulfilling our mission and positively impacting the lives of so many.
The connection is you.
Christopher Banks, President & CEO, and Tracey Staley, Chair of the Board