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.
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:
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:
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.
VELA offers free Autism, Special Education in the Schools Course, Self-Care Course, case management, and support groups for parents who have children with special needs. All services are free and provided in English or Spanish. You can see the courses on the web calendar: www.velafamilies.org
The Easterseals Coalition Serving Texas will host an advocacy day for self-advocates, family members, and community members from across the state who are interested in disability issues in Texas. Participants will have the opportunity to meet advocates from a variety of backgrounds, practice providing testimony during a mock committee hearing, and directly participate in the legislative process by meeting with legislators.
Attendees will spend the morning in an advocacy training, which will include an overview of the legislative process, an update on relevant issues important to the disability community, and tips on how to most effectively share your view with your legislators. In the afternoon, groups of attendees will participate in a mock hearing with legislative staff, and then set out to meet with their legislators, advocate for issues important to people with disabilities and leave behind packets of information.
This event is a great opportunity for people to come together to advocate on behalf of people with disabilities!
Parking is available in the Capitol Visitor’s Parking Garage at 1201 San Jacinto.
Registration is required, as space is limited. PLEASE RSVP! https://www.eventbrite.com/e/easterseals-advocacy-day-2018-dia-de-abogacia-de-easterseals-2018-tickets-44333907912?aff=es2
For additional information, contact Jolene Sanders at email@example.com
Sammy’s House is a nonprofit organization that provides education and care to children who are medically fragile and/or developmentally delayed. Our Adventure in Compassion Carnival is designed for children of all abilities to celebrate individual differences and promote tolerance and inclusion. Join us on Saturday, May 12 from 10am- 2pm for carnival games, a bounce house, music, a petting zoo, food and more!
Admission- $5/child. Free for Sammy’s House children and children with special needs. Any funds raised will go directly to the children by providing scholarships for low-income families.
Enjoy sessions looking to the future of autism that will explore issues like how success should be measured, what innovations will change the quality of life for those with autism in the coming years, how to navigate programs, services and support systems throughout the lifespan and how to advocate for effective public policy followed by a day on Capitol Hill for all conference attendees.
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