We, as autistic people and their loved ones, call out to all governmental authorities, non-governmental organisations and the general public:
In the aftermath of one of the worst disasters we have seen in our country, the earthquake that affected Kahramanmaraş and neighbouring provinces, we would like to remind you that these conditions, which are very difficult for all of us, affect some of the more vulnerable groups of the population even more deeply.
It is much more difficult for autistics and their families than anyone else to keep up with these conditions where everyone is united and struggling together to maintain their resilience.
Therefore, it is imperative to create a road map for autistic children and adults that differs from the common earthquake crisis strategies.
Autistic children and adults must be removed from the area immediately. Their routines should be carried out as quickly and as well as possible.
Access to psychiatrist-psychologist support should be made possible.
Their medication should be identified and access to them should be ensured.
In this context, apart from the standard post-disaster psychological support, it is necessary to establish psychological support mechanisms suitable for autistics. For this, there is an urgent need for counselling by experts, providing suitable accommodation conditions for autistics, and raising awareness of volunteers in the field on the use of alternative forms of communication.
Unlike many other groups currently in the disaster zone, autistic children and adults are in a very different process of understanding and processing what is happening.
Failure to raise this issue will irreversibly affect the lives of autistic people and their families in the disaster area.
Accordingly, we established the Naturel Disaster Autism Solidarity Network in order to bring together autistic earthquake victims and the support they need. Our organisation is open to volunteer individuals and organisations.
We call on all relevant and/or supportive organisations and individuals, especially the Turkish Psychiatrists Association, the Turkish Psychologists Association, the Turkish Medical Association, the Turkish Pharmacists Association, the Union of Chambers of Architects and Engineers of Turkey, to support this solidarity.
Naturel Disaster Autism Solidarity Network, is a non-governmental initiative created to establish a search and rescue, evacuation and support protocol for autistic people in Türkiye following the 7.7 and 7.6 magnitude earthquakes in Kahramanmaraş on 6 February 2023.
AODA, aims to focus primarily on the trauma and post-traumatic stress that emerged with the Kahramanmaraş earthquakes, and after the post-earthquake "golden days", to prepare autistics for disasters by taking into account the regional natural disaster hazards of Türkiye, especially earthquakes.
In line with the needs of autistics and their families in times of disaster;