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Meeting in Washington. 5 things you need to know about it

1 The whole world shines blue. And Poland the most.

The ALN (Advocacy Leadership Network) meeting organized by Autism Speaks was attended by nearly 100 people from dozens of organizations from around the world. We watched many presentations about how different countries are shining blue for people with autism. We saw blue bullfighters in Mexico, blue soccer players in Argentina and blue shopping malls in the Philippines (Filipinos looooove shopping, we heard). But we'll tell you one thing. So many blue buildings, such enthusiasm and such crowds as in Poland - there is nowhere.

2. effective advocacy, is a machine

If we want to change the world for people with autism. If we want to fight for access to rapid diagnosis and free evidence-based therapy. If we want kindergarten and school to be for us. If we want there to be a home for autistic people, a place in society, for there to be a job.

We must act together. Be strong. Have money.

The law does not change in 5 minutes.

And if it doesn't work out. It means only one thing. You have to try again.

By the way, did you know that advocacy is just "advocasy" in English?

3. Mike Lake, he's a great guy

Mike Lake is a congressman from Canada. And Jaden's dad with autism. As much as Mike has done for the visibility of people with autism, no one has done. Mike often shows up with him, takes him on trips, charity runs and - although Jaden doesn't speak - gives speeches and interviews with him. He often says then: "And now Jaden will take his favorite place in the world - my shoulder."

Mike and his son Jaden, are doing a great thing in this way. They are familiarizing society with autism, increasing acceptance, making the authorities more aware and paving the way for big changes. Changes in diagnosis, education, care and access to work.

What is there to say. Thanks a lot Mike!

If you want to follow Mike on Facebook, here is his page: Mike Lake Facebook

4 The world is changing. Autism Speak too

We met Angela Timashenka Geiger, the new CEO (or president) of Autism Speaks, at a meeting in Waszyngotno. She revealed to us that in a few days Autism Speaks - which is the largest organization in the autism world - will announce its new mission.

For those who haven't felt it yet. For any organization, a change in mission - the purpose for which it is established - is an earthquake.

What will change? Autism Speaks will no longer search for a "cure for autism." It will not use words like "global crisis" or "epidemic" of autism in its mission. Nor will it talk exclusively about children. She wants to support people with autism throughout their lives, from childhood to late adulthood. As Angela said, "we are opening our arms wider, for everyone."

For this mature and wise change, Autism Speaks sincerely and wholeheartedly congratulates you.

These were four things you need to know about the ALN meeting in Waszyngotno. And what is the fifth one? It's simply a thought - it's worth going to such meetings, meeting people, learning from them, exchanging information. We are creating a better world for people with autism. By ourselves - we will never do it.


Tom Michalowicz, "CEO" of the JiM Foundation

Tom Michalowicz and Andy Shih of Autism Speaks,
meeting organizer
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