Alternatives for People with Autism (APA) has developed a code of ethics that serves as its guiding principles. The code is a list of statements largely focused on actions and principles the organization has pledged to follow. The code of ethics was developed in the 1980s by the board of directors and is reviewed periodically.
Because of the unique nature of APA, the organization didn’t base its code of ethics on other professional codes, though many principles of APA’s code of ethics—dignity, privacy, responsibility—are common to other care industry codes. The APA code of ethics came from families and board members putting into writing the values and fundamental beliefs APA used and continues to use to operate.
The code of ethics begins with and always centers around APA’s commitment to the people they help every day: their Clients. These are the adults with autism who live at APA’s facilities, whose dignity, individualism, and development are the organization’s most important goals. APA believes firmly that every individual can learn and grow, and with that development comes a larger set of life choices and enjoyment of those lives.
The APA code of ethics goes beyond how they treat their Clients. It extends to clients’ family and friends as well, a reminder that APA has been given a great responsibility and APA is accountable to them as well. The code also recognizes the success of APA’s Clients relies heavily on the skills and integrity of their staff. As such, the code of ethics requires APA to seek out the best, most-skilled staff it can find, and make concerted efforts to help them develop and advance their talents. APA also explicitly acknowledges that, as an organization and as individuals, everyone has room to grow and change. That means the APA and its staff acknowledge mistakes or shortcomings, and they work to correct them. As new information and improved methods become available, APA will embrace and implement them.
As an organization, APA will always remain not for profit. This allows resources and energy to be wholly directed toward Clients and their futures. APA also pledges to maintain standards that will always exceed the minimum standards set by licensing authorities and society at large. While much of the code of ethics spells out in detail the ways APA pledges to conduct its day-to-day operations, there are aspects that speak to the long-term goals as well. For instance, APA includes in its code of ethics a promise to maintain the practices and traditions that strengthen and safeguard the organization, so it can continue its mission of serving Clients.
Finally, the code of ethics includes transparency and openness to public review. In fact, the code of ethics is posted prominently in the boardroom as a constant reminder. After all, if APA follows its code of ethics, with the dignity and well-being of its Clients at the core of its work, we are confident we are always “doing the right thing.”