Approximately 70 million individuals worldwide are affected by autism, accounting for approximately 1 percent of the global population. Autism is classified as a neurological disability that often presents challenges in forming social relationships, as those affected are highly sensitive to unexpected changes in their environment. Individuals with autism commonly develop intense interests in routines, facts, and patterns.
Despite the need to embrace individuals with autism, their behavior and unique ways of thinking and doing things remain widely misunderstood within their communities. As a result, they encounter discrimination, limited opportunities for education and employment, and social exclusion. Fortunately, charitable organizations from across the globe are dedicated to assisting individuals with autism and their families, promoting their ability to lead dignified lives and be fully embraced members of society. Presented below are ten tireless charities actively working to support individuals with autism.
#1 National Autistic Society
Who they are: The National Autistic Society is the UK-based charity working across England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland to help create a society that works for autistic people and transform their lives.
The charity was founded in 1962 and currently employs over 3 thousand staff who work in their schools and services, training, policy, and campaign teams and in fundraising in 116 branches across the UK. The mission of the charity is to ‘’transform lives by providing support, information, and practical advice for more than 700 thousand adults and children in the UK, as well as their 3 million family members and carers’’.
What they do: To help transform the lives of the autistic people and their families in the UK, the National Autistic Society conducts many activities-from running specialist schools, training companies on being more autism-friendly, to campaigning for improved rights.
Besides providing advice and guidance through their Autism Services Directory and peer support, the charity also provides a range of personalized support services to people with autism and their families, such as local and specialist help, health and social services, parent groups and much more.
Their impact: In 2021/22, the charity provided tailored support to 879 autistic adults and supported 507 autistic children during the COVID-19 lockdown through their 7 schools. Their online platform for advice was used by a record of 5 million users, while over a half a million benefited from their online community. Through their helpline, the charity empowered over 5 thousand families and successfully campaigned to the new autism strategy in England.
Ways to get involved: You can support the National Autistic Society in many ways-by donating, fundraising, or volunteering.
#2 Next for Autism: Always Innovating
Who they are: The Next for Autism was established by Laura Slatkin and Illene Lainer in 2003 in New York, both with sons of the autism spectrum, with a belief that people with autism deserve to lead fulfilling and productive lives.
The charity works across the US providing services to autistic people through carefully designed innovative programs. They always ask the question ‘what’s next for people on the autism spectrum?’. To conform to this question, they ensure to successfully integrate people with autism into their community and support them at each stage of their lives.
What they do: To address the needs of people with autism, as well as their families, Next for Autism creates and provides a variety of educational, clinical, and vocational programs.
They partner up with local charities and other organizations to ensure that autistic people across the US have access to effective services. Their current programs include Next for DSP, Next for DEI, NextGen Connect, and Next for Going Out.
Their impact: Since 2003, the Next for Autism have raised over 54 million dollars and supported programs in over 36 US states and territories. Many young adults benefited from the charity’s mentorship program, including Eric Ogando, Next Gen Connect Member–‘’Meeting with my mentor has been a very fulfilling experience. We learned so much about each other in the form of our goals and career interests. Interacting with my mentor has helped me understand how to make professional connections with people and how to tie my experiences to my career interests…’’
Ways to get involved: You can support the Next for Autism by choosing amongst several donation options.
#3 Autism International Foundation
Who they are: The Autism International Foundation is the US-based charity working to enhance services to children with autism across developing countries.
Their goal is ‘’to increase access for children with autism spectrum disorders to humane ‘state of the art’ services.’’ The charity provides funding to programs in countries where autistic children and their families are limited or do not have access to services that are meeting their needs.
What they do: Currently, the Autism International Foundation supports International Child Development Centers in Yerevan, Armenia and Queretaro, Mexico. Through the Centers, autistic children are provided with access to services in schools and at home. Services are specially designed to meet needs of each individual child. The Centers are regularly visited by the supervisors based in the US, who continually monitor children’s progress.
The charity is also operating in the US where it has partnered up with other charities to provide behavioral intervention, case management and psychotherapy to refugee children with autism and their families, who fled the conflict in Ukraine.
Their impact: The Autism International Foundation currently supports over 100 autistic children with specially designed services through their Child Development Centers in Armenia and Mexico.
Ways to get involved: You can support the Autism International Foundation by donating directly donating through their website or becoming a volunteer.
#4 Autism Europe
Who they are: Autism Europe is an international charity based in Belgium working to advance the rights of people with autism and their rights, and assist them in improving the quality of their lives.
Autism Europe acts a liaison amongst 90-member autism charities from 40 European countries, including governments, European and international institutions, and 26 Member States of the European Union. They are also regularly consulted by the WHO and cooperate with the UN. The charity also has the participative status with the Council of Europe.
What they do: Autism Europe plays one of the key roles on the continent when it comes to raising public awareness and putting pressure of European decision-makers and leaders to adopt policies and resolve issues related to rights of autistic people.
To maximize their impact, the charity works in strategic coalition with other charities and organizations that share the same goals and concerns. A central role in their work is played by the parents of autistic children and self-advocates, to ensure that the interests and needs of autistic people are met in their work.
Their impact: Autism Europe has been increasing awareness on autism since 1983. In 2004, the charity won the case against France before the Council of Europe, which was the first complaint to defend the rights of people with disabilities in Europe. In 2007, they participated in drafting the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and in 2015 they got 418 Members of the European Parliament to adopt Written Declaration on Autism.
Ways to get involved: You can support Autism Europe by becoming a member, fundraising, or donating.
#5 American Autism Association
Who they are: American Autism Association was established in 2010 and currently operates in New York and South Florida, with a goal of spreading their activities across the US. Their vision is to ‘’offer support and guidance’’ as they help families through their journey with autism.
The charity aims to build communities in which no child or individual with autism will go undeserved, and where everyone will have access to service. Through their range of programs, the American Autism Association believes that those affected by autism will have the ability to live their lives free of misunderstanding and judgment.
What they do: The charity offers a range of services and programs to meet the needs of autistic people. Through their Autism Help Hotline and workshops with families of autistic people, they provide educational materials together with free therapeutic athletic programs to low-income families.
Besides providing grants, scholarships, and assistance in locating health providers and schools for autistic children, the charity also organizes therapeutic and recreations programs for autistic people, from ballet to basketball.
Their impact: With the help of the community of volunteers, the charity currently offers more than 7 programs that reach autistic individuals in New York and South Florida.
Ways to get involved: You can visit the charity’s Get Involved site and discover different ways to support them-from volunteering to fundraising.
#6 Asperger/Autism Network
Who they are: AANE was founded in 1996 as one of the first Asperger/autism-focused charities in the US. They help people with Asperger’s and similar autism spectrum to build meaningful lives.
Their primary mission is to help people affected by Asperger/autism, as well as those who have other neurological differences and feel the charity’s services might be beneficial. To receive ANNE’s service, one does not have to be diagnosed with Asperger/autism.
What they do: AANE provides several different services to people affected by Asperger/autism and other forms of neurological diagnosis, which include information, community support, education, and advocacy.
What sets them aside is that they are largely run by those on the Autism Spectrum. AANE delivers a mix of in-person and virtual services such as conferences, support, and referral programs. In addition to providing services in Massachusetts and New York where they are based, AANE also partners up with other Asperger and autism charities across the world, including disability organizations that offer services to the autism population.
Their impact: Those who have concerns about Asperger/autism can reach AANE for free advices. Daily, AANE’s staff responds on average to 275 e-mails and calls from families, as well as other professional seeking information on conferences and trainings. They also offer 50 support groups that meet on a regular basis.
Ways to get involved: Some of the ways to support AANE include donating online, fundraising and volunteering.
#7 Autistic Women and Nonbinary Network (AWN): Neurodiversity Is for Everyone
Who they are: AWN is a charity ‘’committed to disability justice, gender and racial equity, neurodiversity and trans liberation, with a focus on transformative and restorative justice in disability spaces’’.
Their mission is to provide resources and community support for autistic women, girls, transfeminine and transmasculine nonbinary people, Two Spirit people, trans people of all genders, and all those with marginalized or no gender. AWN’s goal is to eradicate stereotypes and misinformation which produce fears around autism diagnosis.
What they do: AWN launched various community initiatives to empower disabled and autistic people in their fight for justice. Their support also includes providing meals, rent, groceries, moving expensed, healthcare, and other unexpected life events to autistic BIPoC and LGNTQIAP people.
AWN’s webinars and articles feature autistic and disabled activists and community leaders, who speak on various topics. The charity also provides fiscal sponsorships to multi-cultural grassroots projects, through programs such and The Autistic People of Color Fund and Living Alters. They also organize meetups such as autism acceptance community events and coffee shop meetups.
Their impact: In 2021 AWN sponsored several disability and racial justice organizations that do not have their own status. Some of them include Crushing Colonialism and DC Teens Action. They had 3.839 webinar registrants and 11 formal statements to demand justice and equity.
Ways to get involved: You can support AWN by donating directly through their website.
#8 Autism Speaks
Who they are: Autism Speaks is a charity working with a vision of ‘’a world where all people with autism can reach their full potential’’.
This US-based charity is dedicated to promoting solutions for autistic people and their families. They were founded by Bob and Suzanne Wright in 2005 when they learned that their grandson was diagnosed with autism. Since then, the charity became a catalyst in ensuring that autistic people receive the right services.
What they do: Autism Speaks advocates and provides support to increase acceptance and understanding of people with autism. Across the US, the charity campaigns to raise awareness on issues related to autism and on struggles autistic people are regularly facing.
They also conduct research on causes and better intervention for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions, as well provide grants for researchers and scientists interested in discovering the issues related to autism. In collaboration with other organizations, they launched MSSNG, an online platform for researchers to access genome sequencing database on autism.
Their impact: In 2022, Autism Speaks aided more than 1.6 million people through direct support and funded services. With more 1.9 million views on their website monthly, people can find vital information and create personalized content.
During the World Autism Month, they have advanced inclusion and understanding with more than a million people visiting their campaign website to pledge to create a world in which all autistic people can reach their full potential. They also hosted US wide advocacy seminar educating more than 2 thousand people on autism.
Ways to get involved: Your donation to Autism Speaks can make an impact for the 1 in 36 children on the autism spectrum.
#9 Organization for Autism Research (OAR)
Who they are: OAR was founded by parents and grandparents of autistic children in the US, who also serve as the leaders of the charity. They founded OAR with one goal-to fund research that will improve the daily challenges that autistic people regularly face.
OAR’s mission is to apply research to the challenges of autism. They use science to resolve the social, educational, and treatment issues surrounding autistic people. Their mission ‘’of applying research to answer questions of daily concern to autistic people and those around them’’-gives a clear definition of their goals and program objectives.
What they do: To help families, individuals, and educators impacted by autism, OAR funds research projects which they define as ‘’practical research that examines issues and challenges that autistic children and adults and their families face every day’’.
They also give out scholarships for autistic children in post-secondary education, as well as employment mentorship to help meet the needs of autistic individuals.
Their impact: Since 2022, OAR has funded more than 4 million dollars in new autism research, awarded over 1.5 million dollars in scholarships to 503 autistic children. They also launched 10 Life Journey through Autism guides and created Operation Autism-a website that provides 24/7 information to military families with autistic children.
Ways to get involved: You can support OAR by donating, fundraising, or volunteering.
#10 The Autism Community in Action (TACA)
Who they are: Founded in 2000 by Lia Ackerman after her son was diagnosed with Autism, TACA became a charity that provides support, services and educational programs to autistic people and their families.
TACA’s vision is for every individual diagnosed with autism to lead an independent life. From grassroots beginning in Southern California, TACA expanded across the US and now have physical presence through their Chapters and provides virtual services for all families facing an autism diagnosis.
What they do: TACA’s activities include virtual support to families of autistic people and educational events, an individualized support through parent mentorship, social media private groups where families can share their concerns and experiences on autism, and resources and comprehensive information to help parents navigate all aspects of the autism journey-from diagnosis to preparations for adulthood. They also provide national and regional scholarships to finance functional medicine doctors, providing supplements, or covering the cost of a conference.
Their impact: In 2022, TACA served well over 83 thousand families around the US. They have responded to around 50 thousand phone and online support requests, educated over 2 thousand people in 2 conferences, and awarded over 207 thousand dollars in scholarships to 499 families.
Ways to get involved: You can support TACA by directly donating through their website.