The Town Board established a Task Force to undertake in 6-12 months to solicit feedback and produce a report and launch an Autism-Friendly initiative town-wide of which the Town will be a part. If you are interested in applying to be on the task force, please fill out this form by April 12. Thank you.
RESOLUTION ADOPTED 3/21/23 BY THE TOWN BOARD OF THE TOWN OF BEDFORD.
WHEREAS, the Town of Bedford has long been committed to protecting and enhancing the life, safety and security of all individuals, and to respecting and appreciating the differences among us, whether they be related to age, race, religion, ethnicity, gender, gender orientation, gender identity, national origin or any other distinguishing characteristic or trait; and
WHEREAS, the Town of Bedford seeks recommendations about how best to ensure that citizens with Autism and other neurodivergent dis/abilities are included in community life; and
WHEREAS, neurodivergence is a term used to describe differences in brain function; Classical definitions of neurodivergence include diagnoses of autism, ADHD and dyslexia; However, embracing neurodiversity means going beyond medical definitions by recognizing the whole person; and
WHEREAS, neurodivergence is not the same as disability or mental illness, but it can be associated with them to the degree that it can present similar barriers to inclusion; Accepting and destigmatizing human neurodiversity is important so all neurodiverse people, their families, and our community; and
WHEREAS, the neurodivergent world is growing, and the number of residents with neurodivergent dis/abilities has likewise increased exponentially. According to Dr. Eric Mitchell, a licensed psychologist and neurodiversity consultant, “Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnoses have almost tripled in the past 20 years”; and
WHEREAS the Town of Bedford desires to identify opportunities to engage the community about the nature of neurodiversity and to overcome barriers to inclusion for people with neurodivergent dis/abilities; and
WHEREAS, the Town of Bedford is looking to advance its current initiatives, including Police Department training and first responder sensory kits and sound-cancelling headphones in vehicles; and
WHEREAS, the Town of Bedford seeks a written report with recommendations and input from the community for an ongoing town-wide initiative for a more Autism-Friendly town led by partners and stakeholders with participation by the Town.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Town of Bedford establishes the Autism-Friendly Task Force to lay the groundwork to make our town more welcoming, accessible, and inclusive for individuals with neurodivergent abilities. The Task Force will gather information, educate, make recommendations, produce a written report, and form an alliance of partners to launch an ongoing initiative of which the Town intends to play a part; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, The Autism-Friendly Task Force will be comprised of persons with, and family members of persons with neurodivergent disabilities; representatives of business and community organizations; a member of the Town Board; a member of a School Board or Special Education Department; and any other interested stakeholders; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, The Autism-Friendly Task Force will spend 6-12 months to identify ways to help and start to make Bedford an accessible and inclusive Autism-friendly town by taking the following actions:
- Solicit feedback and collect data regarding challenges and barriers to accessibility and inclusion for neurodiverse residents and visitors through public meeting, survey, and research; and
- Make specific recommendations for actions and guidelines based on data, feedback, and research that will improve existing services, businesses, parks and other local amenities;
- Educate and engage business owners, local organizations, and town leaders in ways to respond to the needs of neurodiverse customers/patrons and to recruit partners to an ongoing initiative;
- Form an alliance of partners committed to this mission to sign on to the goals and undertake this work going forward;
- Deliver a comprehensive written report on its finding and recommendations to the Town Board. The report will include suggestions about how the alliance of partners might best implement the recommendations and findings, recommendations as to the role of the Town, and guidance about ways to ensure sustainability of this effort; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Town Board appoints Wendy Belzberg to chair the Autism-Friendly Task Force and recruit members to participate.
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