Master of Public Policy and Administration (MPPA) alum Sancho Angulo (MPPA ’22) was featured as a panelist at the inaugural National Autism Conference, a two-day virtual conference organized by the Public Health Agency of Canada last November 15 and 16. The conference is meant to convene perspectives from various stakeholders, including autistic Canadians, their families and caregivers, Indigenous peoples, as well as practitioners and decision-makers at the provincial and territorial level to help build a National Autism Strategy.
Sancho is an autistic self-advocate and public servant and spoke during the first panel which discussed Safety and Security for autistic people. During the panel Sancho drew from his lived experience as an autistic person, contributing to discussions around the needs of autistic people with respect to physical and psychological safety over the lifecourse, and the role of the federal government in advancing national-level initiatives to promote physical and psychological safety for autistic people.
“It’s humbling to be able to share my lived experience as an autistic person at a conference that will enormously influence the direction of autism-related policy in Canada for generations to come,” says Sancho. “Giving space for autistic voices to be heard in the policy arena is a huge step in the right direction. It values us as people, not simply a ‘condition’. It recognizes our ability to speak up for ourselves and take greater charge of our own futures.”
Growing up in Markham, Ontario, Sancho always knew he was different. With a keen obsession for geography, history and politics, it was often difficult for him to fit in with his peers. Following a classroom conflict, he began diagnostic sessions with a psychologist at the initiative of his teachers. At 13, he was formally diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, today part of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
This news was initially shocking to Sancho, who was afraid that being on the spectrum would seriously hurt his chances to succeed in life, notably his dream to eventually work in politics and government.
This passion for government and politics initially brought Sancho to Carleton as an undergraduate student, completing a Bachelor of Public Affairs and Policy Management, specializing in Communication Technologies and Regulation, during which he gained experience working in several federal government institutions.
After completing his BPAPM, Sancho was bridged into a permanent position at the Canada Revenue Agency but was also offered admission to the Master of Public Policy and Administration in the School of Public Policy and Administration. “Admission to the MPPA was an offer I simply could not resist,” Sancho recalled, “Beyond being the leading school in Canada for anyone seeking a career in policy and government, the SPPA offered extraordinary support and flexibility made it easy to balance school on top of full-time work.” During his time in the MPPA, Sancho served as a graduate teaching assistant for undergraduate-level courses in public policy and communications. He received his MPPA officially at the November 12 commencement ceremony.
Today, Sancho is a Senior Project Officer in the Access to Information and Privacy Directorate at the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), where he helps support the Agency’s privacy management program. He is also part of the Federal Speakers’ Forum on Diversity and Inclusion, a platform for federal public servants to share their experiences with others on diversity, inclusion and accessibility-related topics. Sancho is regularly invited by federal departments and agencies to speak to their employees about his lived experience as a neurodiverse person, and shares advice on creating positive workspaces for neurodiverse people.
Reflecting on his experience, Sancho says, “I always say to myself: be who you needed when you were younger. As a kid, I never knew anyone like me who worked in public policy. But now, I hope my experience and example can help other neurodiverse people contemplating a career in public policy.”