In the late 1960s, a group of North Carolina parents with children on the autism spectrum met to discuss options for their children. At that time, autism was known as childhood schizophrenia, and the widely accepted belief was that it was a psychological disorder caused by emotionally distant parents. “I was told by the professionals that I was the reason my son had autism, and I had to go to therapy to determine what I had done wrong,” said JoAnn Jeffries, a parent and former Board President and Executive Director.
At that time, children with autism were discouraged from attending school. The concept that the children could grow to have productive employment and lead fulfilling lives did not exist. People with autism grew up in the seclusion of their family homes or were inappropriately institutionalized for mental illness. Since bad parenting was accepted as the cause of autism, there was no network of support for families facing a diagnosis of autism. “Of course no one knew any better at the time, but after a while they realized that my son was not getting better, and eventually through research here in North Carolina, they showed the world that it was not the mother’s fault, but that autism had a biological basis,” said Jeffries.
In this environment, the parents who were in that meeting decided to make a difference by forming the Autism Society of North Carolina in February of 1970. The idea was create an organization to share information, provide support to one another, and enhance the lives of their loved ones as well as all children with autism in the state.
For over 45 years, the Autism Society of North Carolina (ASNC) has worked to address areas of need and expand services for the autism community in North Carolina. ASNC is a statewide organization, supporting North Carolinians affected by autism. Every dollar that we raise stays within North Carolina, helping people who live and work in our local communities.
Our organization works to directly improve the lives of individuals and families affected by autism through advocacy, training and education, and direct services.
- Advocacy: We are the only autism-specific advocacy organization in North Carolina, and it is the heart of what we do. We find resources for families, assist with school issues, educate families through workshops, help individuals navigate the services system, and host local support groups. We also give those with autism a voice in public policy by maintaining relationships at the state legislature and other policy-making entities.
- Training and Education: We focus on evidence-based best practices that empower self-advocates, families, and professionals. We also work to increase understanding and acceptance of people with ASD in the community.
- Services: ASNC is a direct care service provider, and a recipient of the highest level of accreditation by the Council on Quality Leadership for exemplary service provision. Individuals with ASD receive a variety of residential, recreational, vocational, and community-based services that are designed to meet their needs, interests, and strengths.
To provide support and promote opportunities that enhance the lives of individuals within the autism spectrum and their families.
The Autism Society of North Carolina is the leading resource in North Carolina for connecting people who live with autism, and those who care about them, with resources, support, advocacy, and information tailored to meet their unique needs. ASNC strives to create communities throughout the state in which people on the autism spectrum and their families are empowered, supported, and fully embraced by their communities.
Respect: We respect and value the uniqueness of all individuals within the autism spectrum; when provided the opportunity, each person can make a unique contribution to his/her family, community, and society. The person is the priority, rather than any philosophical stance.
Empowerment and Support: We empower and support individuals on the autism spectrum (and those who advocate for them) to achieve greater independence and integration in all facets of community life.
Individuality: We demonstrate this through provision of services and supports in an individualized manner that demonstrates respect for individual dignity, personal preferences, and cultural differences, as well as the unique strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, and abilities of individuals and their families.
Equity: We promote fair and equitable access to supports, opportunities, and services for all individuals on the autism spectrum; and strive for equity and fairness in decision-making and in our relationships with others.
Integrity and Accountability: We act with honesty, integrity, and openness in all dealings; adhere to high ethical and performance standards; and manage resources in a responsible and prudent manner.
Collaboration: We encourage and promote cooperative relationships among families, communities, schools, governmental agencies, organizations, and other professionals involved in the lives of people on the autism spectrum. We value relationships founded on honesty, integrity, and mutual respect.