[This website is only a prototype; it is not an organisation yet.
Details are subject to change with feedback and more brainstorming.]
The NeuroDivergent Community Alliance (NDCA) implements the Action For Autistics Masterplan (AFAM) to provide strategic and sustainable community-led solutions for supporting autistics (as an alternative to costly conventional approaches). These include affordable services like peer-to-peer insurance and products like rugged tablet casings not addressed by existing organisations.
The biggest long-term strategic impact we can make is to provide safe spaces for autistics to provide and receive support. The second biggest is to support caregivers in providing humanistic homeschooling to autistic children. The third biggest is to develop the mental resilience of autistics so that they can overcome their limitations and support peers to do the same.
Autistic peer chat communities are essential sources of support preventing autistics from becoming socially withdrawn and mentally ill, especially in between occasional visits to mental health professionals. However, ad-hoc volunteers running these communities are unable to adequately support their peers especially when they also require support.
Autistics within online communities are also exposed to predators and cheats who take advantage of their naivety, loneliness and social isolation. An example is a male autistic acting as a supportive friendly big brother while his non-autistic partner uses his online identity as an autistic to manipulate community politics and seduce potential male victims. Despite the suspicious autistic’s expulsion and community leaders’ joint advice to stay away from him, many autistics chose to join his private chat groups and events.
NDCA represents the autistic community so that professionals, government agencies and allied non-profits can be systematically roped in to support autistics. Dedicated staff with mental health awareness and socially savvy volunteers will allow us to deal effectively with suspicious people and support at-risk autistics at relatively low cost. With sufficient funding, NDCA can also organise physical events, set up communities for autistic children, operate physical community spaces and invest in cultivating autistic talent.
Autistics have very different needs; homeschooling is a great investment for autistic children to develop into healthy adults. Academic excellence is less important compared to maintaining good mental health, cultivating areas of exceptional strength as well as developing the confidence and adaptability to handle unexpected challenges.
The humanistic and gentle Waldorf Education takes the opposite approach to robotic behavioural therapies and cram school style tuition, providing excellent support for both autistic and non-autistic children. This non-profit will facilitate caregivers to homeschool their autistic children and support each other to apply the Waldorf approach. With such suitable support, many autistic children will eventually be able to thrive in mainstream education/employment as gifted individuals.
The nature of autism (social, communications, executive functioning challenges) prevents autistics from taking charge of their community. Most openly autistic adults are also stuck with mental illnesses, counterproductive behaviours and self-limiting beliefs due to the lack of support and understanding of their needs.
Much of these issues are due to existing paradigms (i.e. the medical, charitable and social models of disability) creating low expectations of and removing responsibility from autistics. Without personal responsibility, autistics will never develop the capacity to participate in society as equals. We used to have discipline without nurturance (i.e. ableism); now we also have nurturance without discipline (i.e. disableism). The solution is the Middle Path of Inclusive Equality as both extremes disempower autistics.
With our community support, homeschooling and leadership training programmes, we will gradually cultivate a new generation of autistic leaders who can thrive in mainstream society and work as equals with caregivers to create strategic change. In contrast to non-autistic leadership programmes and autism advocacy training, we will focus on developing individuality and strengthening mental wellness.
For autistics who lack the capacity or inclination to integrate into mainstream society, we will create an eco-village inspired by Camphill Communities, a proven model of inclusive equality where members are assigned meaningful responsibilities based on their support needs and interests. Rather than rely on highly paid professionals, we can have retired elderly folk and tourist volunteers providing peer support in a natural outdoor environment. Organic farms will ensure a reliable food supply even if robots have taken over mainstream society.