CKUT Interview: COVID, Neurodiversity and Disability Access (1 of 2)

2 metres apartCKUT Radio (Montreal) interviewed A4A members for their show Off the Hour: Avalanche. We talked about COVID, neurodiversity, access to health care and more.

You can listen by pressing Play on the audio file below. Transcript below, too.

In part 1, A4A co-founder Anne Borden King talks about plain language COVID resources, the problem with Autism Speaks, AAC, health care access and meeting the challenges of sheltering in place.

Many thanks to show producer Zosia, to Avalanche and to everyone at CKUT for their in-depth coverage on COVID.

Audio:

Transcript as a PDF: April_CKUT_Interview_Borden_Transcript

Transcript (below)

Zosia: Hi and welcome to the show. I’m here with Anne from Autistics for Autistics Ontario. Anne, would you be able to describe the history of your organization?

Anne: Yes, it’s great to be here too…thank you for inviting me. Our organization was founded in November 2017 and it was co-founded– I’m one of the co-founders—as a way for autistic people to be able to speak for ourselves, so it’s an autistic self-advocacy organization. We do work in community education, political advocacy and community support and community building.

Zosia: You recently wrote a plain language guide on COVID-19. Would you mind describing it?

Anne: Yeah, sure. We came up with this idea to get something out there about COVID-19 in plain language, meaning that people can understand it… it’s not full of a lot of technical jargon. And also specifically for autistic people, talking about some of the things that we would specifically be concerned about.

So the guide starts out with talking about what COVID-19 is, explains why we’re sheltering in place or staying at home (as we are here in Ontario) and then it gives some resources for people who use AAC, which [are] alternative communication devices, for people who are non-speaking. It gives some resources for non-speaking people for navigating the medical system and what’s going on, and for having access to communication. And then it talks a little bit about coping, how to connect with people, how to cope what’s going on… and some advice for caregivers. And then a brief discussion about what might happen next because that’s a big question that a lot of people have.

Zosia: Could you describe why plain language is necessary in communications for COVID 19?

Anne: It’s really, really important and we don’t see much of it. I’m actually really surprised with COVID how little communication is coming out of the medical field that could be understood by the average person. A lot of it is really technical and you start looking at all these big words and long paragraphs and it feels very overwhelming and it’s hard to understand. It’s really important in the case of something where it’s about health and safety, to make sure it’s in plain language.

The challenge with plain language is that sometimes plain language guides – if they’re not written by actually disabled people– they can come across as kind of patronizing, right? and talking down to the person. So …people who are autistic, have Downs Syndrome or a variety of intellectual disabilities, [should] really driving these projects, be writing these projects or at the very least at least very heavily consulting and involved with these guides so that they really speak to people in a way that is comfortable.

Zosia: Have there been any other plain language guides circulating? And how does yours differ from those?

Anne: Yeah, there are some good ones. I will say, Harvard (Medical School) did plain language but then they kind of messed it up because they had it like by age group, like “for 5-7 year olds”… like that doesn’t really work, you know, cognition doesn’t break down like grades in school. However, Brandeis [University] did a really nice one. And that could be read by people of any age.

Another great one was written by Green Mountain Self Advocates, and that was actually written by people who are disabled, have intellectual or developmental disabilities, so that was written in a really accessible way. And then there’s our guide. These are the major ones.

And then there are guides by AAC-makers… CoughDrop has a guide, Assistiveware has a lot of good guides and information for people who use AAC to communicate.

Zosia: Do you believe that they methods that the government has used thus far to communicate vital information regarding COVID-19 have been sufficient?

Anne: I think they could do a better job with plain language, especially by consulting with people who understand plain language and know how to write using plain language, and who benefit from plain language.

Zosia: So governmental briefings on Coronavirus have only recently begun using accessibility measures; for example, sign language, the week of March 16. Why do you think the implementation of methods like this were considered later as opposes to quote “traditional” communication?

Anne: I think it’s that way so much of the time that disabled people are an afterthought. I don’t know why especially federally since they made this big statement about how they’re going to start including disability in everything they do, right from the start, so I was surprised at how long it took them because I knew that they have this new commitment, but I haven’t seen a lot of legs to that commitment, and I think there still is more work to be done to reach various disabled communities in the way they communicate.

Zosia: The Accessible Communities Canada Act in its current status primarily refers to federal physical bodies, such as government buildings. Do you feel that language should have been included in the creation of this act?

Anne: It really, really should have. And like any disability accommodation, it would benefit everyone—not just disabled people–if they had included that. The legislation also really didn’t have anything for autistic people and there was no consultation done with autistic people for that legislation, so there are a number of things missing there.

Zosia: Are there methods of communication that the government hasn’t yet implemented that the government would be able to better assist disabled people?

Anne: I think so. They need to communication more directly with disability self-advocacy groups and disability self-advocates and ask what our different communities and individuals need and then respond to that need. I don’t think having a bunch of quote-unquote experts who are non-disabled trying to just do guesswork on the fly in the background as an afterthought is going to be a good way do it. We’d like to see the government reaching out directly to groups like ours and asking us what’s missing and what we need.

And we can provide it, it is very simple for us to do that rather than having them kind of doing guesswork.

Zosia: Do you feel that the accessibility measures regarding communication have been adequately communicated by caregivers to the populations that require them? For example in the blog post you mention there are sound boards specific to COVID 19. Is this a feature that’s widely known to caregivers as a resource?

Anne: I think the companies that make these boards are trying to get the information out there, but I don’t think it’s entirely successful. It all depends on the quality of who’s caring for the person and where the person lives. If they’re living in a residential program where the [carers] are really not making an effort to know what’s going on and what’s available and really querying these things, I don’t think they’re going to find them. This is all happening really ad hoc, by private groups, groups like ours, in the case of AAC it might be a company that makes AAC, but if you don’t use that brand you might never hear about it.

Ideally you would have kind of a Master Post, a master list, that the government had, of accessibility resources and then they would distribute these resources to all of the residential programs and all of the schools, in terms of how they’re doing education now, and they would have a way to get it to parents as well through various agencies, but that’s not happening.

Zosia: And why do you feel that’s not happening?

Anne: I don’t think they have had a plan… I don’t know, I’m just speculating at this point but it doesn’t look like they had thought about these moving pieces when they were getting ready for something like a  pandemic. So they need to reach out and ask people in the disability community…. And I mean really [actually] disabled people.

In the case of autism, there is really a whole bunch of non-autistic people who claim to speak for us, groups like CASDA and some of these other …like Autism Speaks. If the Government is going and asking them, they’re going to the wrong people. Those people are not disabled and they don’t know what it’s like to be autistic and they don’t know what autistic people need. [The Government needs] to reach out directly to self-advocates to understand what’s needed.

Zosia: How does the level of recommendations vary when provided by someone such as a representative from Autism Speaks, who doesn’t have autism versus directly from a person with autism?

Anne: Well, we’re asking everyone in the broader disability community not to partner with or work with organizations like Autism Speaks or CASDA because they are…first of all, in the case of Autism Speaks there is the broader issue of the genetic research and some of the eugenics that they support…

But aside from that, they also really follow what’s known as the medical model of disability, where the disabled person is the “problem” and you “fix the child to make them fit” in a world that isn’t built for them. The social model of disability tells us, why don’t we make some changes to the world around us, so that it can fit us? And it’s just the same for autism as it is any disability, right?

I think that these big groups that tend to speak as though we’re broken puzzle pieces that need to be fixed, and “what kind of therapies can we get so we’re not so ‘weird’?” and whatever like, is really damaging to autistic people in many, many ways.

And it doesn’t make for successful outcomes, either. If the Government and policymakers are looking for successful outcomes, the only way you’re going to have that is if we look at autism from the social model of disability and start making changes to the environment. And the only people that can communicate what changes are needed, whether it’s in schools, or healthcare or anywhere else…the only people who are really going to be able to articulate what’s needed are actually autistic people.

Like for example, our group, Autistics for Autistics, goes to the University of Toronto medical school a couple times a year and give a talk to [medical] students on “How can you make your practice accessible” for people who use AAC, for people with sensory issues, communication differences, all of the types of challenges that we have faced when we try to seek health care. We know what the barriers are and we know that there are some really simple solutions. And when we go speak to the med students about how they can make their practice more accessible, they’re very receptive, they’re very open.

It’s really a simple matter of teaching them some really simple accessibility measures that will have an impact on hundreds of people throughout their career. But we’re the only ones doing it… it’s the autistic people who are doing it.

When you have a big organization like Autism Speaks or someone coming in [to med schools], they’re much more likely to talk about “How To Identify Autism” or make us seem like we’re sort of like, a germ in a petri dish rather than “hey, we’re people and it would really help if you would learn about this, it would help if you allow your patients to email for people who are not able to use the phone, things like that. And that all comes from the grassroots, from the disability rights community, not from these big organizations who claim to speak for us.

Zosia: And have these organizations spoken for or released anything in regards to COVID-19 and what are your thoughts on those?

Anne: I’ve been looking and.. now I haven’t seen anything from Autism Speaks because I kinda don’t like looking at what they do, um… because of the eugenics, but I have seen some organizations that have put out guides. Generally, [these groups] are putting out like “A Guide for Caregivers” and then it will be like this massive long document about “How to Talk to Your Child About COVID” um, so, already they’ve taken the subjectivity away from the actually autistic person. They’re not addressing autistic people, they’re addressing their carers, and that’s just symbolic of how they tend to do things.

And I just saw one today, I couldn’t believe it…someone sent it to me, I can’t remember who put it out…it was a Canadian group from the West [edit: It was put out by a Federal Government initiative by the Pacific Family Autism Network, PFAN] and they did this whole big thing, this whole big website… they probably had grant money for it [edit: the PFAN was handed $10 million in federal funds for the website], and they never once mentioned non-speaking, non-verbal autistic people.

They had it all set up for autistic people who could speak, but we know that like 30% of autistic people are either nonspeaking or partially speaking. It’s quite incredible that a big agency like that would just render all those people invisible in their document.

Zosia: And how has the community in Ontario been impacted by the crisis?

Anne: I think it’s been impacted depending on where you live and who you are. So for some people who are living on their own or with roommates, out on their own, they are facing in many, many cases… because poverty is a big problem in our community, facing a lot of economic insecurity and  a lot of worry what might happen to their job, a lot of worry about what’s going to happen with Ontario Works, or ODSP [The Ontario Disability Support Program] or some of the other programs that people are receiving… so there is anxiety and uncertainty and fear around the economic part of it.

Then there’s the social isolation which everyone has to deal with but which feels a little bit different, maybe for an autistic person than it would for a neurotypical person. I don’t want to generalize to all autistic people… I think there are some stereotypes out there that we all just want to sit home and pet our cat and we don’t really care that we have to stay home and we’re all “introverts” and that’s not really true, a lot of autistic people are really extroverted and I think anyone, whether you’re autistic or not, is missing the community, missing the routine. But I think from a sensory perspective it can be more difficult being inside, than it might be for someone else.

It can be particularly difficult for people who are living in a group home setting or in a family setting where they’re not happy or not comfortable, or that’s not welcoming to them. I really, really worry about people in those kind of situations where there may have been an opportunity to get out for work or out for school and now they’re home. So there’s that as well.

And then there’s the sense of not knowing what’s coming. Which is something that impacts everyone, but it can be especially frustrating and can really start to lead you down a path of reading and learning and understanding and getting super-duper into understanding COVID to the point where it’s like, “OK, I’ve learned everything possible about COVID, now I need to find ways to decompress. I need to find ways to connect with other people.”

So I guess to summarize: there are economic concerns, there are stress concerns depending on people’s living situations, and then there are sensory and coping concerns that do look and feel different than they do for a lot of neurotypical people.

Zosia: And how is the Government of Ontario dealing with this crisis?

Anne: I’m just giving my opinion as an individual. I was watching a press conference with [Ontario Premier] Doug Ford today and he was kind of being baited by a right wing media [journalist] to make negative comments about [Canadian Prime Minister] Trudeau and he deflected it and he praised Trudeau. And I was really happy to see that like, it does seem like the Government is taking its direction from public health experts, whether they’re federal or provincial so that was really comforting for me.

The fallout when this is all over, I don’t know, economically and socially what kind of impact it’s going to have on our community because so many in our community are already living very low income and on ODSP. That conversation isn’t really happening right now so it is really hard to tell, because it is a Tory government, what the future is going to be like in terms of [supports].

Zosia: And what are your opinions on the fact that the majority of disability support plans across Canada are below the poverty line but with the Bill that’s been proposed, [non-disabled] individuals would be receiving almost twice as much, for example, as recipients of ODSP. How does that proposal impact the level that we’ve set… essentially putting disabled people in poverty for no reason.

Anne: Well, it certainly points out the way that the existing system isn’t fair, the way that people are constantly living on the poverty line and trying to work a little bit, get penalized for that, people who want to live with their partner, or get married obviously are penalized right now under that system? This, for us as activists, is an opportunity for us to raise awareness, to compare the aid that’s being provided by the government [to non-disabled people] to what [disabled people] are getting. It’s a good opportunity to make people aware of the discrepancies and the second-class citizenship that comes from those discrepancies.

Zosia: How can non-disabled people be allies to disabled people during this pandemic?

Anne: I think non-disabled people can be allies to disabled people by giving us a place at the podium. It’s really really important in any kind of project that has to do with COVID at all that disabled people are right there, front and centre. Because we’re in a place right now in Ontario where we have a place for everyone at the hospital, but as we know down in the US they’re rationing care and as we know, sometimes the rationing programs exclude people that are disabled, and are discriminatory.

There’s a lot of worry and concern in Canada that that could happen here depending on the direction that things go with health care and this virus. So, some guarantees and some real commitment that disabled people are not left out in those kind of scenarios and that affirmation that our lives have value is really important. And visibility for autistic people and all disabled people –as much visibility as possible is really important right now. My concern is that disabled people will not be given life-saving medical care in the event that there is rationing and that it will be built into the triage policies at hospitals.

I think what everyone would like to see is an ironclad guarantee in general a positivity about disabled people coming from our government as a way to reassure people that it’s not going to happen here in the way that it has been happening in the US.

Zosia: If listeners wanted more information about your organization, what should they do?

Anne: We’re on Twitter @a4aontario and we’re also on Facebook at A4A: Public Page. Our website is a4aontario.com. That’s where you can find the Plain Language Guide to COVID with pictures, and we’re also going to make more plain language COVID guides as well as resources for sheltering in place and a master list of AAC resources.

Zosia: Ok, thank you Anne.

Anne: Great it was great talking to you!

Listen or read the transcript for Part 2 of the series. Zosia speaks with A4A executive committee member Darla and AAC, health access and more.

 

COVID-19 Resources for Autistic People

Autistics for Autistics Ontario and Autistics United Canada, both autistic-led advocacy groups, have put together a list of COVID-19 resources for autistic people, which we will continue to update!

Part 1 is resources specifically for autistic people, including AAC resources, coping guides & online hangouts!

Part 2 is general resources about COVID-19, including health care info in plain language & in multiple languages and financial aid info (Canada).

Part 1: Resources for Autistics

AAC Resources

Coping with the Changes – Guides

Coping with the Changes – Articles

Online Hangouts for Neurodivergent People!

  • Autistics United Canada is hosting online hangouts on Tuesdays and Saturdays, via computer web browser, phone app, or phone call.

Other online Meetups!

Other Things to Do When Staying Home / Sheltering in Place

For Parents & Caregivers

Financial Aid

PART 2: General COVID-19 Information

Part 2 is a PDF. Please link here: Covid info_resource list_plain language-multilingual (Canada)

 

We are Heroes: A Plain Language Guide about Covid-19

See the Full Guide, with Images: Covid_Guide_A4AOntario
Screen Shot 2020-03-21 at 6.58.14 PM
About this Guide
This guide is about Covid-19 and some of the changes to our lives in Ontario. It also has AAC resources and other info.

Below is the text version. The version with pictures is at the “Full Guide” link, above.

This guide was created by autistic people, in Toronto.

Introduction
A lot of things have changed in the past couple weeks.

  • There are a lot of new announcements.
  • Many places are closed.
  • People are staying home.
  • Everyone is washing their hands a LOT more.

Why are these things happening? Why are we making all these changes?

Because we are being heroes. We are all saving people’s lives, by protecting each other from the coronavirus, Covid-19.

These changes are not forever. It is just for now. Things will get back to normal again.

 What is Covid-19?
You probably heard about the new coronavirus, or Covid-19. It is a germ that makes some people very sick.

Covid-19 goes into people in different ways—for example if someone coughs near them, or if they touch something that had the virus on it, then touch their eyes or mouth.

Covid-19 is spreading around the world right now. It is in Canada now.

The reason things are closing, and people are staying home, is because of Covid-19. People don’t want to get sick or get other people sick.

We won’t be staying home forever. It is just for now. The scientists can’t say how long it will be yet. They want to find out too –and they will tell us as soon as they know.

Why are we staying home?
When we stay home, we stop Covid-19 from spreading.

Scientists know how to stop Covid-19 from spreading. One way is by washing hands. Another way is by not shaking hands or high fiving. Another way is called “social distancing”.

There are different kinds of social distancing:

  • Sometimes it means not having big events, like hockey games and parades.
  • Sometimes it means not having other things, like school or work.
  • Sometimes it means staying home, away from people who are not your family (“sheltering in place”).

With social distancing, less people will get sick–and the doctors will be able to help everyone who has to go to the hospital.

When you do social distancing, you are helping doctors, hospitals and all people who are in the hospital. You are helping our whole city to be healthier and safer.

Up and down feelings about staying home
Staying home can be really hard, especially at the beginning, because it feels like nothing is the same.

It is normal to feel upset and confused. As days go by, we usually get more used to things being different.

Sometimes it’s fun to be at home! What are some of the things you like to do when you’re at home? Make a list of things you’d like to do while at home.

Sometimes there are bad mornings, or bad days. People will say confusing things about Covid-19. Sometimes they will talk calmly about it, and other times they will sound upset and angry.

What do you do when you get upset, to calm down? Make a list of what you like when you’re upset, and a list of relaxing things you like to do to calm down.  Have your parent or carer make the same list, for themselves.

AAC resources
There is a new speech board with words, ideas, images & videos about Covid-19. It works for people that use the CoughDrop platform. You can get it online at coughdrop.com.

Other apps, like Proloquo2Go, may have their own symbols. Another place to get information is assistiveware.com. More AAC resources are being created and we will update soon with more information as new AAC resources come out!

Keeping connected
Just because we need to do social distancing doesn’t mean we can’t connect with our friends and other people we are close to.

We can use texting, FaceTime, Skype, phone and more. There are lots of fun things to do like draw pictures together and guess what they are, play games or give each other tours of our houses! It can also be fun to make plans with your friend about what you will do when you see each other again.

Set a regular time each week or day to meet. This way, they will be there and can answer back when you have a text or phone call. Make a plan just like you do when you’re meeting up in person.

Taking a break from Covid talk
People are talking about Covid-19 A LOT. Sometimes, it can feel like too much.

If someone is talking about Covid-19 and you need a break from that, you can tell them:

  • “I need a break from talking about this”
  • “No Covid right now”
  • “I need a break to relax”

Your parent or carer can also agree to a special time of day where they talk or watch news about Covid-19, and get a plan for you to do something different then. You can make that plan together.

What’s next?
The doctors and scientists will tell us when it is safe to start opening up schools, restaurants and other places. They don’t know yet, but they will be keeping us updated.

When it is safe, we will all slowly go back to doing our favourite things that are not at home. Then we will look back on this and remember it, as something from the past.

We are in this together
We are all working together, being heroes together. We are protecting ourselves and the people we love–and people all across Ontario. Thank you for being a hero.

This Guide was written 100% by autistic people, who work at an organization where autistic people are in charge. Our group is called Autistics for Autistics Ontario (a4aontario.com. We hope you found our booklet helpful!

 

 

Letter to Canada’s Auditor General about autism funding in Canada

Dear members and supporters:   We have written to Canada’s Auditor General asking for answers to some questions about how autism funding decisions are being made by Canadian governmental ministries and agencies.

We are asking the Auditor General directly because after 6 months of outstanding inquiries to the agency and ministry involved, those offices have not given us answers.

As well, the usual databases that list federal contracts and RFPs do not list most of these contracts or indicate whether any bidding processes or research was involved in the decision to choose the specific providers and programs.

Who is the Auditor General?
The Office of the Auditor General of Canada (OAG) “serves Parliament by providing it with information and expert advice on government programs and activities, gathered through audits” of financial activity by government agencies to make sure that things are being done fairly and openly.

Full letter: Our full letter to the OAG [names redacted] is here: Letter to the Auditor General, February 2020

Our questions: Below are the questions we submitted to the Auditor General of Canada.

AIDE Network
In October 2018, more than $10 million was announced for the Pacific Autism Family Network and the Miriam Foundation to develop the Autism-Intellectual-Developmental Disabilities National Resource and Exchange (AIDE) Network, a website that advertises the services of Canadian autism service providers.

  • How was the AIDE project tendered?
  • Where is the contract—why is it not online like other disability-related contracts?
  • How was any need for this project determined?
  • What demographic and best-practices research was this expenditure based upon, if any?
  • Since the primary beneficiaries of this program are the PAFN and related service agencies themselves, what data was collected or audits done (if any) to determine whether there could be secondary stakeholders/beneficiaries?
  • Was there research into the issue of redundancy (considering that similar databases exist); whether the similar existing databases were effective (how much and why or why not); and whether Canadians will access the AIDE database to find local services instead of using Google as they do now?

Other projects
The projects listed next were also funded with no apparent public record of RFPs or  tendering process, nor any record of research into their feasibility, reasonableness or sustainability.

Autism Nova Scotia’s Health Sexuality Research Program, $800,000; Autism Ontario’s Mental Health Matters Project, $524,431; Autism Resource Centre’s Building Block Program, $518,964; Jake’s House for Autistic “Children for The Legends Mentoring Program [sic]”, $600,000 (does not fund autistic mentoring); York University for The Autism Mental Health Promotion Project, $599,300 and; McGill University (Royal Institute for the Advancement of Learning) Caregiver Skills Training Program, $600,000.

  • Why were these projects funded without meaningful data about need or research into ROIs in other jurisdictions?
  • How does the level of due diligence for autism-related projects compare to that of other government funded disability-related expenditures?
  • If there are two sets of standards for due diligence, why is that?
  • What is the RFP and bidding process for these projects?
  • Why aren’t the bidding process, contracts and standards of measurement transparent for autism funding, as they are for other expenditures?

We hope to hear back from the Auditor General soon. We will update this post and our social media when we do.

Autistic Activists in Canada Take Action Against Anti-Vax Propaganda

IMG_1542
We are very proud of all the autistic activists in Canada who have taken action against the screenings of the film VAXXED 2!!

VAXXED 2 is a propaganda film that is earning millions for the antivax industry at the expense of autistic people. The film falsely links vaccines and autism and portrays autistic people as an epidemic and a burden.

Autistic advocates were the leaders of these pro-science actions. In some cases, advocates were able to get screenings stopped before the film showed; in others, we took to the streets to educate.

Actions

North Bay, ON: An A4A member in North Bay had the idea of calling the local Health Ministry office (MOH) to inform them of 3 screenings scheduled in the area. The MOH contacted the venues to inform them that due to the public health risks of the screening, the venues needed to cancel the screenings. All 3 screenings were canceled!!!

Toronto, ON: A direct action picket line was organized by some brave autistic activists in Toronto, when the film screened for two nights at a local theatre. Activists held signs with slogans such as “Vaccines Cause Adults” and “Autistic and Proud”. They handed out educational flyers to passers-by and had engaging conversations about public health and also about neurodiversity — all while trying to avoid the angry shouts of the attendees in line… and the pouring rain both nights. A true endurance test!

Halifax, NS: In Nova Scotia, Autistics United Chapter Leader Alex Kronstein spoke with media about the dangers of antivax rhetoric and its impact on autistic people. Advocates held a spirited protest at the screening of VAXXED 2, which took place at a local city-owned recreation centre that rented the space to VAXXED 2 for $345. One ally held a sign that read: “Halifax Rec: For $345 you lost my $516 gym membership. Get lost, anti-vaxxers. My best friend has autism and is perfect.” Thank you.

Moncton, NB: New Brunswick advocates contacted the New Brunswick Medical Society and the Mayor of Moncton, but neither office showed interest in the public health risks of screening antivax propaganda films during a resurgence of measles, mumps and rubella that is being caused by antivax propaganda, so the screenings went forward. Advocates showed up at the screenings and handed out educational flyers, holding signs, and talking with passers-by about the issues, receiving supportive high fives, honks and people shouting “Yes! We vaccinate!”

Victoria, BC: Advocates were able to get two scheduled screenings shut down after the venues were made aware that the so-called “education group” scheduled at their spaces was actually a screening of VAXXED 2.  At the two remaining venues, a group of protesters–plus a very sweet service dog–stood outside with their signs. One protester, whose parents did not vaccinate them as a child, held the sign: “Not vaccinated and still autistic.” The group received support from people throughout the neighbourhood.

“My Existence is Resistance”
Autistic activist Alex Kronstein of Nova Scotia, who held a sign that read “My Existence is Resistance” spoke to Global Media about the protests, summing up the reason why autistic people are at the forefront of protesting this film: “The whole idea that vaccines cause autism, it promotes a lot of stigma and hatred towards autistic people….If a publicly-owned rec facility is hosting a screening of this film, it’s harming public health and contributing to the stigma of autistic people.”

The vaccine that antivaxxers has been most focused on is the Measles Mumps Rubella vaccine (MMR), profiting from a baseless myth that the MMR vaccine causes autism. Experts estimate a sixfold increase in mumps diagnoses, with rising numbers of measles cases each day, including major outbreaks, and new cases of rubella now being reported.

The vaccine-autism myth was made stronger for more than a decade by the group Autism Speaks, which perpetuated the antivax myth through its literature and even its research projects until just 3 years ago when its messaging abruptly shifted. Autistic advocates have been at the forefront of resistance against antivax and public education about the importance of childhood vaccines.

Thank you
We are grateful to all the amazing autistic advocates across Canada who worked so hard on this. We did not allow the antivax industry to present their hate without being there to share the facts and say “No.” We were there to bear witness to the importance of vaccines, and to our own humanity.

Thanks also to our siblings in the UK at Autistic Inclusive Meets, who were the first to organize against VAXXED 2 screenings and inspired us in our own actions.

We will continue to update our social media about upcoming protests worldwide.

Read our fact sheet about VAXXED2 and antivax claims: VAXXED2 Fact Sheet

Donate to our Action Fund

Vancouver Protest on Feb 21st! Event Info