MHAF site visits and presentations have influenced emerging projects in various countries around the world. From Israel to India, we are sharing lessons learned in the USA to help leaders abroad create more opportunities for adults with autism and other intellectual/developmental disabilities (I/DD) within their own context.
One of the most inspiring and powerful movements is occuring in India. In January of 2019, the Founder of MHAF, JaLynn Prince, and Desiree Kameka, Director of the AHN, were invited to speak at the International Conference on Autism in Kolkata, India. JaLynn discussed Autism After 21 and Desiree spoke about residential opportunities for adults with autism. They also had the opportunity to learn from other world leaders who were brought together to discuss the importance of self-advocacy, employment, communication strategies, different therapies and housing specifically designed to support individuals with autism. This is an unprecedented accomplishment as much stigma still exists in India and even getting an education is not provided as a right to people with disabilities.
During JaLynn’s presentation on MHAF and Autism After 21 she said, “What we do is make a country, and sometimes the world, aware that after the age of 21 life goes on.” She goes on to say, “adults should not be invisible, but should be included in our communities.”
During Desiree’s presentation on the efforts of the AHN she said, “When we’re thinking about housing, it’s not about creating the housing to close someone in, but creating this place of ‘safety’.” She continues, “You also want to be able to create and educate the broader community so that it is going to ensure the safety and well-being of the person.”
The India Autism Center initially only provided services to children with autism, but have extended their efforts by creating services for adults and plan to develop the India Autism Center and a neuro-inclusive neighborhood on 52 acres of land just outside of Kolkata.
MHAF invites local communities in the USA and countries around the world to join the Autism After 21 movement by learning about issues of autism in adulthood, to keep shaping policy to help provide a variety of needed resources, and creating person-centered programs that sustain vital opportunities for adults with autism.