“The presence of people with autism in organisations must be strengthened”
Diagnosed with Asperger syndrome in 2006 and member of Autism-Europe’s Council of Administration since 2010, Pietro Cirrincione has become the association’s first vice-President with autism. His main objective is to encourage the participation of self-advocate organisations within Autism-Europe.
Determined, attentive and smiling, member of the Council of Administration since 2010, it is not the first time Pietro has visited the office of Autism-Europe, but it is clear that his level of engagement has not waned, on the contrary. Aware of his new position of responsibility, Autism-Europe’s new vice-President explains the importance of self-advocate representation at the European level.
“Being vice-President of Autism-Europe as a self-advocate is more than a responsibility for me: it’s a mission. The autism spectrum is vast, and it’s very positive that people with autism who can represent themselves are active within associations not only at a regional or national level, but also at the European level” he says.
Same direction, different routes
Pietro underlines the fact that Autism-Europe coordinates more than 85 autism associations in 25 different EU countries, but that there is not yet an organisation among them consisting exclusively of self-advocates. “In the field of autism there are several groups whose voices should be heard, and the way of enforcing the rights of people with autism varies depending on the point of view and experience of each of them. For example, some parents have a tendency to protect people on the spectrum, whereas self-advocate favour autonomy. We are all going in the same direction but the route is not the same”
As Executive Committee member of a mixed association in Italy comprised of parents and self-advocates, Pietro has the necessary expertise to converge and align the opinions and aspirations of the different groups, in the style of pioneering associations in Europe. “The UK is a very good example of self-advocacy, because people with autism have been actively included in associations for nearly 20 years now. In this sense, Autism-Europe’s International Congress organised in partnership with the National Autistic Society for 2016 offers a great opportunity, notably for favouring the participation of people with autism as speakers. I’m really looking forward to the congress!”
A life dedicated to autism
Pietro’s responsibilities in the field of autism go beyond his contribution to Autism-Europe. Since 2013, Pietro has been a member of the European Disability Forum’s “Communication and Information Technologies” experts group (EDF-FEPH). In Italy he is a delegate of the National Federation of Associations for the Protection of Persons with Autism and Asperger Syndrome (Fantasia), and Executive Committee Member within both the Gruppo Asperger Onlus and Gruppo Asperger Lazio Onlus associations. Alongside these activities, Pietro is an IT expert in Rome, as well as being a member of the Multimedia Exploration Laboratory (LEM), a cooperative run by people with Asperger syndrome.
Engaging through sport
Pietro is also involved in several sports projects. In 2010, he took part in the Italian athletic project “Diamoci una mossa” (Let’s move!). In 2015 he helped create the Autistic Football Club, acting as President. This was an initiative by Giuliaparla Onlus, realised with the support of the Lazio Asperger Group. It is an inclusive team consisting of a group of players with autism, parents and educators. The goal of these two initiatives is to favour the social inclusion of children and adults with autism, through sport.