Department of Human Services Highlights Advocacy Efforts by and for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities, Autism

Harrisburg, PA - The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) today released the latest issue of the Positive Approaches Journal, which aims to provide the most recent research and resources for people with mental health and behavioral challenges, intellectual disabilities, autism, and other developmental disabilities to live an everyday life. This edition focuses on the importance of self-advocacy and how to make advocacy efforts accessible and available to those who want to participate.  

“Pennsylvania is better off when we include the talents of all people, and one of DHS’ goals is ensuring that Pennsylvanians with disabilities have all of the services and supports they need to live everyday lives,” said Acting DHS Secretary Val Arkoosh. “We know that individuals across the commonwealth are still advocating for this reality, and we hope that this edition of the Positive Approaches Journal can provide real-world examples of success stories to inspire others to advocate for themselves and others.” 

This edition features research and articles on the following: 

  • Data Discoveries: Data discoveries in this edition show state-level data on participation in self-advocacy and support groups among autistic adults. 

  • What Are the Barriers to Becoming a Self-advocate: How Do We Perpetuate Them and How Can We Lower Them?: This article discusses the importance of self-advocacy and suggestions for creating inclusive, welcoming, and sustainable advocacy environments. 

  • The Complicated Language of Autism Advocacy: Learning to Use Our Words: This article describes the complexities of person-first and identity-first language from the perspective of a self-advocate. 

  • The Importance of Advocacy at State Mental Hospitals: This article outlines the history and evolution of the role of advocacy for people with mental illness in Pennsylvania. 

  • From Infants to Adults: How Two Mothers Have Advocated for Their Sons with Autism: Two mothers provide narratives detailing the experiences, successes, and struggles of advocating for their sons with autism and other behavioral health diagnoses. 

The journal is a collaboration of DHS’ Office of Developmental Programs and Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and collects resources, observations, and advancements in mental and behavioral health in order to better serve people in their communities. 

Read this edition of the Positive Approaches Journal.  

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DHS Media Contact Details

Press Office

Department of Human Services 717-425-7606
Department of Human Services Media

Ali Fogarty

Communications Director Department of Human Director 717-425-7606
Department of Human Services Media

Brandon Cwalina

Press Secretary Department of Human Services 717-425-7606
Department of Human Services Media