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. Autism Society of Texas staff also serve on the Autism Society of America’s Public Policy and Advocacy 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. We will be working on issues for the 2019 Texas Legislative Session in the Summer and Fall of 2018.

To receive advocacy updates such as information on bills, advocacy training, or when calls and emails to legislators are needed, please register here.

Texas Legislative Priorities

Legislative Priorities for the 86th Texas Legislature will be posted in October 2018

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.

Federal Legislative Priorities: Autism Society of America

We are an active part of setting the public policy priorities with the Autism Society of America. Please subscribe to their advocacy newsletter Ignite4Autism here and check the Autism Society of America’s Public Policy Page for national legislative issues.

Have advocacy issues/questions/concerns about Texas or Federal issues? Please contact Jacquie at jacquie@texasautismsociety.org.

Upcoming Events

Sep
18
Tue
VELA Courses @ VELA
Sep 18 @ 9:30 am – Dec 20 @ 12:00 pm

Join VELA for our interactive courses offered to parents of children with autism, and other special needs that would qualify them for special education services in whatever school district they attend for our special education course, and wellness workshops and course. All courses are offered free of charge and in English or Spanish. Courses are offered in the morning or the evening with free childcare upon registration.

We also offer case management services, support groups, and family fun days.

Feb
10
Sun
Arc of Texas’ Inclusion Works! “Rock the Boat” @ Embassy Suites Convention Center Hotel
Feb 10 – Feb 12 all-day

Inclusion Works! gathers national leading experts and creative problem solvers in the field of inclusive Special Education. Featuring diverse keynote speakers, invigorating panel discussions and interactive workshops, the 2019 Inclusion Works! Conference will offer more opportunities for networking, learning, and discovery than ever before.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND?
We will be celebrating leaders that are rocking the boat to improve inclusion in Special Education. If you are a forward-thinking parent, educator, school administrator, paraprofessional or self-advocate that seeks tools, connection and empowerment to transform inclusion in Special Education you cannot miss this conference.

Apr
26
Fri
Texas Autism Advocacy Day @ Texas Capitol, Legislative Conference Center
Apr 26 @ 8:30 am – 2:30 pm

About the event:

Please join the Autism Society of Texas and other nonprofit groups, stakeholders, parents, and concerned advocates, as we spend the morning discussing legislative issues that affect individuals with autism, and their families. Following issues & advocacy training, we will have lunch. After lunch we will visit with legislators or their staff. There will also be a press conference. No advocacy experience is required and we would love to have as many attendees as possible! During legislative visits, if you are not comfortable communicating with legislators or their staff we will assign you to a group with an appointed spokesperson.

Event will run from approximately from 8:30 am-3 pm with a complete schedule and registration coming soon!

For questions about the event, please email Jacquie Benestante at jacquie@texasautismsociety.org or call
(512) 479-4199.

Mark your calendar for April 26th! We’ll see you there!

Capitol Building Map: capitol_building_guide

Parking:

Inexpensive parking is available in the Capitol Visitor’s Parking Garage. It is located at 1201 San Jacinto Blvd, Austin, TX 78701

 

 

December News (12/3/2018) - Read our December Newsletter here.  Check out the Austin Marathon, Holiday Parties, Day of Giving & upcoming events.  
November News (11/1/2018) - There’s so much going on! From our Film Festival, to the importance of voting, to support groups & events, you can read it all here. To get the newsletter, subscribe here.
October News (10/2/2018) - Check out our October newsletter! AutismFilmFest.org films have been announced, info about Disability Mentoring Day, and upcoming events & support groups all included! Read it here: https://tinyurl.com/ASTOct18
September News (9/6/2018) - Read our September newsletter here!  Includes updates on our San Antonio Walk, AutFest Texas, Disability Mentoring Day, Advocacy Survey &  more! Subscribe here.
Take our Texas Legislative Issues Survey! ¡Tome nuestra encuesta de los problemas legislativos de Texas! (8/21/2018) -   Help us prepare for the 86th Texas Legislative Session by telling us what’s important to you!  The session starts in January 2019 and we’ll be advocating for the needs of children and adults with autism, and their families. Please take our short survey: https://tinyurl.com/ASTSurvey18 You can sign up for our Advocacy email list here. […]
August News (8/2/2018) - Our August newsletter is out, and it’s full of information about our pool party, advocacy updates, new employment specialist & more! Read it here. Subscribe here.
Day on the Hill 2018: Advocacy Update (7/31/2018) - From July 9-12, 2018, staff and a board member from Autism Society of Texas attended the Autism Society of America’s 50th Annual Conference in Bethesda, Maryland, with a day of advocacy on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. Autism Society affiliates from all over the country were educated on a number of topics affecting adults and children […]
April Events: El Paso (3/29/2018) - Our El Paso chapter has great things happening in April!  Check out the list below. For questions about events, please email autismsocietyep@gmail.com or check them out on Facebook!
TEA Requests Feedback on Corrective Action Plan (3/25/2018) - Texas Education Agency asking for feedback on their Corrective Action Plan Last week, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) released their updated draft of the Corrective Action Plan required by the US Department of Education in response to the illegal 8.5% cap on special education enrollment in Texas. View input and feedback to the plan here:  Texas […]
Social Media Day for Community Living: #FundMFP (3/8/2018) - Advocacy Alert: #FundMFP (Money Follows the Person)  Meredyth Alexander, Advocacy Intern EMPOWER Care Act gets Seniors & Individuals with Disabilities Back Home.  The Bipartisan EMPOWER Care Act (Ensuring Medicaid Provides Opportunities for Widespread Equity, Resources & Care Act) – helps Medicaid beneficiaries receive long-term services and support in their community or home and help save […]
Welcome to our Spring Interns! (2/1/2018) - We are thrilled to have three part time interns this Spring assisting us in various areas! We know they are going to be a great asset to Autism Society of  Texas! Meredyth Alexander, Advocacy Intern Meredyth received her M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2015, and is […]
Take two! No Tax on Disability Call-In Day! (Again!) (12/12/2017) - TAKE TWO! NO TAX ON DISABILITY CALL-IN DAY! The Tax Cuts & Jobs Act continues to be a threat to people with disabilities, with the potential for huge cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and negative changes in provisions in the ACA. The Autism Society of America along with the state affiliates, have joined forces nationwide with […]
Advocacy Alert! National Call-In Day: No Tax on Disability! (11/29/2017) - Please join the Autism Society of America and advocates across the country on Wednesday, November 29th for National Call-In Day: No Tax on Disability! Photo images from Center for Public Representation. Call our Texas U.S. Senators today and urge them to please vote NO on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Senator John Cornyn Email https://www.cornyn.senate.gov/contact Washington D.C. Office: 202-224-2934 […]
Pass Kevin & Avonte’s Law, S. 2070 (11/15/2017) - Texas Families! Please help us by calling Senator Ted Cruz and Senator John Cornyn today (Wednesday 11/15) or tomorrow morning at 11/16. If you cannot call, please send an email. Ask Senator Cornyn & Senator Cruz to support Kevin & Avonte’s Law, S.2070. Contact information is below! Thank you! Call our Texas U.S. Senators today […]
Today is National Disability #SaveMedicaid Call-in Day!  (9/25/2017) - Monday, September 25th – please call or email our Texas US Senators. Please see below for a suggestion of what to say when you call or email. Senator John Cornyn Email https://www.cornyn.senate.gov/contact Washington D.C. Office: 202-224-2934 Central Texas Office: 512-469-6034 Senator Ted Cruz  (We are aware he is currently opposed to the Graham-Cassidy legislation. Please call […]
Action Alert: Stop Last-Ditch Health Care Repeal Effort – Autism Society (9/19/2017) - Efforts are underway (again) to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would have dire consequences for people with disabilities including autism. Please take a few minutes and call or send an email. The Autism Society of America’s link explains the latest efforts: Action Alert: Stop Last-Ditch Health Care Repeal Effort Please call or email our […]
August 2017 Newsletter (8/2/2017) - We have many activities and support groups happening this month!  Learn about what’s happening during the Texas Legislative session as well!   Click here to read the August newsletter. To subscribe to our newsletter: http://www.texasautismsociety.org/subscribe/
Texas Tribune Festival: Stipends & Discount Code (8/1/2017) - From The Texas Tribune Festival Organizers: The seventh-annual Texas Tribune Festival is an innovative and engaging three-day event taking place Sept. 22-24 on the University of Texas at Austin campus. For people who are passionate about the issues that affect all Texans, the Festival brings together more than 250 of the biggest names in politics […]
June News (6/2/2017) - The June newsletter is packed full of information! We’re starting a new group for girls with autism, and a run club for individuals with autism and their families! We also have an Access-Austin interest meeting this month (adult vocational program), and our First Responder Morning on June 11th which is a free event for kids […]
Help Save Medicaid! Call our U.S. Senators! (5/30/2017) - Call our Texas U.S. Senators Now!  The recently passed American Health Care Act (AHCA) places valuable resources for people with disabilities in serious jeopardy. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO),  the AHCA: Creates overwhelming reductions to Medicaid, slashing funding for programs people rely on to meet basic needs by an estimated $834 billion over […]