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Biography for Partners in Policymaking

My name is Daniel Landry. I am 29 years old and live in Madison County, North Carolina. I believe that Autism is not something that needs to be cured, but rather something that society can learn to embrace. Sometimes there are no better professionals for a person on the Autistic spectrum than other Autistics. We are adults who have grown into our Autism, not out of it. With a trusting attitude and helpful community, our fellow Autistics can learn to not only cope with day-to-day life, but thrive in it. Not everybody has been supportive or believed in us, but sometimes we end up working together with these people and make some kind of compromise so as to learn from each other, whether we realize it or not.

I was one of 25 people chosen in North Carolina to participate in the Partners in Policymaking program. I was encouraged to apply to Partners in Policymaking over a year ago from one of my friends and community partners in advocacy, Julia Bramsen. I am a passionate advocate for the Autistic population because I, too, am on the Autism spectrum. I have Asperger’s syndrome, as well as severe ADHD, dyslexia, and dysgraphia.

Being on the Autism spectrum and having physical and mental disabilities, I see the lack of community and the need for people to come together and not just sit back. It takes two people in every instance to build any relationship. In this case, it often takes one person on the Autism spectrum and a neurotypical person on the other end, to be open to the creation of solutions. However, the first step towards acceptance is to dispel the stigma consigned to those on the Autism spectrum.

I am the founder and one of the organizers of the successful Autistic social support groups Asperger's Adults United (A.A.U.) and Asperger's Teens United (A.T.U.). Both are independently run groups trying to fill gaps in an overlooked community.

The mission statement for both groups is as follows: “We hope to create both community interaction and dialogue in order to reduce neural-minority stigma and social isolation for people who have been marginalized by their neurological differences. Helping and learning from one another is our main goal.”

I encourage fellow Autistics to embrace their Autism. As we continue on life’s journey, we continue to realize the great personal benefits of having Asperger’s or being on the Autism spectrum. Sometimes the best therapy is to have fellow Autistics to relate to, to talk to, regardless of age. With the right support, I believe that every Autistic can function and flourish in today’s society regardless of where they are on the Autism spectrum.