CONF: Developmental disabilities report / by Erich Kofmel

We just came across information that the World Council of Churches (WCC) appears to be planning a Global Report on Developmental Disabilities. A technical meeting in preparation of this report will be held 26-27 June 2019 at the Ecumenical Centre of the WCC in Geneva, Switzerland.

The registration page is hosted by the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) and the contact person is an administrative support staff member in the mental health department of the World Health Organization (WHO).

We requested registration to the meeting arguing that such a report should be informed by the perspectives of actually autistic persons and others with developmental disabilities. We encourage other autistic self-advocates to also register. Please let us know when you do so:

[Update 14 June 2019: Autistic Minority International’s registration request was rejected, through the UN registration system, presumably by the WHO. We have now reached out directly to a contact of ours at the WCC, who used to be in charge of their health programmes. We asked if they can tell us more about the planned report, its background, and motivation, if any autistic self-advocates and/or other persons with developmental disabilities will be involved (not just parents' organizations or charities run by non-autistic/non-disabled persons), who was invited to participate in that technical meeting on 26-27 June, what is the role of the WHO in this, and whether the report will be informed by the medical model of disability that views autism as a disease, disorder, and epidemic to be prevented, treated, cured, or eradicated, or the social model of disability that views disability as caused by societal attitudes, barriers, discrimination, and exclusion? We reminded them that in 2013, the WHO held a global autism consultation, jointly hosted with controversial US charity Autism Speaks, with not a single actually autistic person present, and that in 2014, the Vatican held an autism conference to which they also did not invite any autistic self-advocates as speakers (despite being contacted and urged to do so by Autistic Minority International half a year in advance), instead choosing to give a platform to WHO representatives, non-autistic medical "experts", scientists, and researchers, and allied parents and charities, again led by Autism Speaks, promoting a negative, biased, and prejudicial view of autism inside the Roman Catholic Church. We stressed that the prominent role of the WHO, which has accepted significant funding from and collaborates closely with Autism Speaks, in the preparation of this global report is highly alarming to us and that the World Council of Churches (a grouping of 350 Orthodox, Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Reformed, United, and Independent member churches comprising 500 million Christians worldwide) seemed about to repeat the same mistakes others have made in the past – not involving and listening to actually autistic persons and others with developmental disabilities themselves.]