Advocacy


The Autism Society is active in the Texas legislature and advocates on behalf of Texans living with autism. We continue to work with legislators and staff to identify key policy areas around autism. Two of our Autism Society staff also serve on the National Autism Society Public Policy Advisory Committee. We are committed to keeping our local autism community up-to-date on what’s going on in Texas and at the Federal level. To receive advocacy updates such as information on bills, advocacy training, or when calls and emails to legislators are needed, please register here.

2017 Texas Legislative Session

We have been laying the ground work for this legislative session by meeting with legislators or their staff to advocate for the needs of children and adults with autism, and their families.

Legislative Priorities

Texas Autism Advocacy Alliance 2017 Legislative Priorities

Expand Autism Program

  • Shift funding from ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) research to families directly, to pay for treatments through the state autism program.
  • Increase funding for entire Autism Program, monitor short term and long-term outcomes and have interim partner reporting.

Protect & Fund Early Childhood Intervention (ECI)

  • End the Rider 50 reductions in Medicaid reimbursement rates for children’s therapies offered through ECI and through private home health agencies.
  • Due to increase in population of children under 3, properly fund ECI to allow for caseload growth to ensure that all children in Texas can receive needed services. 

Texans Care for Children Report:

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5728d34462cd94b84dc567ed/t/581a55fd37c5813ad8ed4d06/1478120972982/Left-Out-2016-2.pdf

Medicaid State Plan amendment to explicitly include ABA therapy coverage

  • Expand Medicaid funding to include ABA coverage (“medically necessary” treatment option).
  • Follow CMS directive to allow Medicaid to cover ABA

Reduce Medicaid Waiver Waitlist by 20%

As of June 2016, there are 212,989 Texans on the Medicaid Waivers Interest Lists, some for as long as 12 years. (source: DADS). We support using funds from General Revenue in the State Budget to fund a 20% reduction in the Medicaid Waivers Interest List.

Coalition of Texans with Disabilities on Waiting Lists:

http://www.txdisabilities.org/waiting-lists

BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) Licensure

Require licensure for BCBA therapists in order to protect recipients of ABA therapies from persons who lack the needed preparation and supervision from representing themselves as behavior analysts and doing harm to vulnerable persons as well as exploiting families and others.

  • Establish a board within the Texas Medical Board to issue licenses to practice ABA only to people who meet national standards. There are 1,112 certified practitioners in Texas, and the field grows by 25-30% annually here.
  • Institute uniform, objective standards for everyone who wishes to practice ABA professionally in the state, consistent with national standards set by the profession (i.e., BACB).
  • Create a database of licensed ABA providers for families and individuals to use.

Information above regarding BCBA Licensure provided by TxABA.org

Require training for Texas First Responders on how to work with individuals with Autism and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

Require all First Responders to complete a 1-hour training during training academy and/or 1 hour annually on autism including watching the Autism Society of Central Texas’ free 26 minute, “First Responder Training Video” followed by a 30-minute discussion on recognizing and assessing the needs of an individual with autism in an emergency situation or any encounter with First Responders.

Information for Autism Society First Responder Video: http://www.austinautismsociety.org/first-responder-autism-training-video/

Other issues affecting children and adults with autism:

  • Anti-bullying legislation: We are in support of the anti-bullying legislation bill, “David’s Law”, filed by Senator Menendez & Representative Minjarez.
  • Vouchers and school choice: We have concerns about vouchers and school choice, as not all private schools accept students with autism, so it leaves autism families without a choice. Even with vouchers, parents cannot afford the handful of specialized private schools for autism, and they are not statewide.
  • Public Education funding: We support properly funded public schools so that special education students receive quality, necessary support as mandated by their Individualized Education Plan.
  • STAAR testing: We support a reduction in testing, either frequency of testing or length of test. The STAAR test is not developmentally appropriate for many students with autism, despite intelligence level, and often causes anxiety, OCD, and/or physical illness due to high anxiety among children with autism.
  • We are in support of medical marijuana to be used to treat autism behavioral issues, epilepsy and seizures only when prescribed by a Physician.

Upcoming Events

May
18
Thu
Preparing for the Future – Shape It Training @ The Shape of Behavior
May 18 @ 6:45 pm – 8:30 pm

Please join The Shape of Behavior for a free educational opportunity to discuss how to help children with autism and other special needs to prepare for the future. This is a free presentation and training led by our Austin-based BCBA.

Childcare is provided! The schedule is as follows:

6:45 – 7:00 – Registration/Refreshments
7:00 – 8:00 – Presentation
8:00 – 8:15 – Q&A Session
8:15 – 8:30 – Closing

Please RSVP with Christina Westendorf via email to austin@shapeofbehavior.com. We look forward to hearing from you!

Aug
24
Thu
Safety Awareness – Shape It Training @ The Shape of Behavior
Aug 24 @ 6:45 pm – 8:30 pm

Please join The Shape of Behavior for a free educational opportunity to learn about safety awareness considerations and techniques for children with autism and other special needs. This is a free presentation and training led by our Austin-based BCBA.

Childcare is provided! The schedule is as follows:

6:45 – 7:00 – Registration/Refreshments
7:00 – 8:00 – Presentation
8:00 – 8:15 – Q&A Session
8:15 – 8:30 – Closing

Please RSVP with Christina Westendorf via email to austin@shapeofbehavior.com. We look forward to hearing from you!

 

April Newsletter & April Mid-Month News (4/5/2017) - The April mid-month newsletter is out! See what’s happening the last two weeks of April!  Read it here. Read all about what’s happening at the Autism Society of Texas in April! We are grateful to have numerous partnerships with local businesses, excited about our upcoming Talent Show, and can’t wait for our Texas Autism Advocacy Day […]
Autism Awareness Month Newsletter: Everything You Need to Know! (3/24/2017) - Read our special edition Autism Awareness Newsletter here. April is right around the corner! At the Autism Society of Texas, we’re excited to promote not only awareness, but also acceptance, for everyone affected by autism. We have many events happening throughout the month, including City Proclamations declaring Autism Awareness Month, fundraisers at Chuy’s, Kendra Scott, Cookie […]
April Is Autism Awareness Month! (3/23/2017) - Autism Awareness Month is on the horizon! Are you looking to spread awareness and acceptance during National Autism Awareness Month? Here are some fun ways to get involved and help celebrate throughout the month of April! Here is a short list of 30+ things to do for autism in 30 days- April 2017 Attend Crossfit […]
March News (3/17/2017) - We have so many great things going on!  Read all about it here: March Newsletter March Mid-Month Updates Are you getting our newsletter? Subscribe here.
March Advocacy News: Announcing “Texas Autism Advocacy Day”! (3/11/2017) - Please join the Autism Society of Texas, Autism Speaks, Easterseals, Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, Texans for Special Education Reform, and other nonprofit groups, stakeholders, parents, and concerned advocates, as we come together to advocate for the needs of children and adults with autism, and their families. We’ll hear from legislators, learn about issues, then […]
Autism Society of America’s “Day on the Hill” (2/22/2017) - We sent our Administrative Coordinator, Jacquie Benestante, to the Autism Society of America’s “Day on the Hill” Advocacy Conference last week from February 15-17th in Washington D.C. Autism Society affiliates from all over the country were educated on a number of legislative issues affecting adults and children with autism and their families. The Autism Society of America […]
Announcing Autism Society of Texas! (1/20/2017) -   We are pleased to announce that the Autism Society of Central Texas is changing our name and expanding our service area, effective immediately, to the Autism Society of Texas.  We currently maintain priority program coverage for a twenty-four (24) county service area, including Atascosa, Bandera, Bastrop, Bell, Bexar, Blanco, Burnet,  Caldwell, Comal, Fayette, Gillespie, […]
Autism Advocacy News: January 2017 (1/11/2017) - We’re ready for the 85th Texas Legislative Session! Read all about our legislative priorities, partners, and updates here in our new Advocacy newsletter.
Kevin & Avonte’s Law Update: Call our US Senators! (12/8/2016) - Please help Autism Society of America & other advocates get this passed! After some slightly altered language, the US House passed Kevin & Avonte’s Law, but it is now going back to the US Senate! Please call our two US Senators and let them know you support Kevin & Avonte’s Law, HR 4919, which provides […]
Support Kevin & Avonte’s Law (H.R. 4919): Wandering & Elopement (11/30/2016) -   Please help us support Kevin & Avonte’s Law today, 11/30/16! Kevin and Avonte’s Law (H.R. 4919) will help safeguard children with autism or other developmental disabilities from wandering. We need your help! Please contact five members of the Judiciary Committee from Texas (listed below) who are opposing Kevin and Avonte’s Law. The best way to […]
November Newsletter: Events, Advocacy & Health & Wellness Day! (11/8/2016) - Check out the November newsletter!  It’s full of everything going on at Autism Society of Central Texas & in our community!  This month we’re launching Access-Austin, our vocational program for adults with autism, and also holding a Health & Wellness Day at Whole Foods at Lamar & 6th Street!  Don’t miss out! Do you want to […]
Texas Autism Research and Resource Center Conference (5/17/2016) - 2016 Texas Autism Research Conference The Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) Texas Autism Research & Resource Center (TARRC) will host the 6th annual Texas Autism Research Conference, “New Insights: Research to Practice” on June 14-15, 2016. The conference program has been finalized and features two national keynote speakers: Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh Ph.D., BCBA […]
Advocacy Action Alert! Kevin & Avonte’s Law (4/13/2016) - Please help get this passed! We’ve heard from our National Autism Society office and our Senator needs to hear from us (Texans!) tonight & tomorrow (Thursday 4/14).  Please email Senator Cornyn’s office and ask for his support for Kevin & Avonte’s Law which would would provide the necessary resources and training for first responders to better […]
National Autism Awareness Month: School, Home, Community (4/1/2016) - Here at Autism Society of Central Texas, we are so excited about all of the fun things going on during National Autism Awareness Month! We have outlined below a few ways for you to help us spread awareness and acceptance about Autism throughout the month of April in your school, home, and community. School- Create […]
CTD GUEST BLOG: AUTISM SERVICES IN THE 84TH LEGISLATURE (3/17/2015) - (Also see article here.) Kaitlyn Clifton Autism Society of Central Texas March 16, 2015 Autism services in Texas are undergoing what could be a major change this session. Right now, the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) Autism Program serves about 250 children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in Texas (according to a recent […]
Gov. Perry Appoints Three to Texas Council on Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorders (8/23/2014) - AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry has appointed three members to the Texas Council on Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorders for terms to expire Feb. 1, 2016. The council makes recommendations to the Legislature and state agencies to ensure the needs of people with autism and other pervasive developmental disorders and their families are addressed, and that […]