Re-defining “accessibility” in community development: An appreciative inquiry for the 1 in 59 on the autism spectrum
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recently estimated that 1 out of 59 children in the U.S. are on the autism spectrum (Autism Speaks, 2018), and one-half million children with autism are expected to become adults through the next decade. Compared to all other people with disabilities, autistic adults are more likely to be socially isolated, unemployed, and living in poverty. This research takes a positive approach, using Appreciative Inquiry (AI) and the Community Capitals Framework (CCF), to examine what communities are doing for adults with autism to address issues identified earlier, and what communities can do to enhance the life experiences of this group. Data was collected using an online survey and analysis findings point to strengths in human, cultural, social, financial, and built capitals. Archival records and researcher experiences were used to supplement the survey findings.