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Disability Empowerment

Using Lessons From the Pandemic to Build Inclusivity

Christopher Banks

President & CEO, Autism Society of America

In a time when uncertainty threatens the world’s physical and emotional safety, there are powerful lessons society can learn from our collective response and strength, especially from the autism community. 

The Autism Society of America has witnessed countless acts of kindness and communal moments that have lifted us all in this time of need. Autism advocates have proven their resiliency, ability to adapt, and the power of inclusivity, all of which greater society can adopt.


People with autism and their caretakers, and families affected by autism are resilient. The autism community understands how to approach challenges because it is something these people have dealt with throughout many aspects of their lives. Through advocacy and perseverance, the autism community has proven it can tackle challenges head-on, and have the strength to overcome them. 

Acknowledging resiliency is a powerful tool for emotional and mental health during this time. Allow this strength to lift you through the darker moments and see the light ahead.


For many people with autism, some sights and sounds can overstimulate the senses, causing anxiety, fear, and despair. These people have had to find ways to calm themselves and manage their behaviors in order to adjust to their surroundings. 

In the past, people and places have claimed that making accommodations was too difficult to support people with autism, yet the global community shifted to online communication and a remote workforce virtually overnight. This action proves people have the ability to adapt and accommodate when necessary, with little time and effort. 

Our hope is that society can carry this mindset forward and be more open to accommodating those with different support needs in order to achieve success, whether in school, at work, or in a public setting. 

A diverse and inclusive community

It is with great passion that the Autism Society works to fulfill its mission to improve the lives of all affected by autism. With over 55 years of knowledge and experience in supporting the autism community, it is obvious that building better supports and inclusivity in education, healthcare, housing, employment, and civil rights is better for everyone. 

Neuro-diversity brings added perspectives and experiences, while a supportive environment for the most vulnerable creates a better space for all. The disability community has been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and by advocating for added supports, we can address social injustices and create equal opportunities for all to succeed.

This unprecedented era in history is challenging, yet it is up to us to how we react to it. By harnessing the power of resiliency and adaptability, we can work together to grow and emerge as a stronger, more united community.

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