The Autism Society of Texas 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 that impact children and adults with 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 the autism community up-to-date on what’s going on in Texas and at the Federal level.
Register for Texas Autism Advocacy Day.
To receive advocacy updates such as information on bills, advocacy training, or when calls and emails to legislators are needed, please register here.
Autism Society of Texas: 2019 Texas Legislative Priorities
86th Texas Legislature
Advocate for safety initiatives, legal protections, safeguards and transparency for students with disabilities and their parents and caregivers. Ensure initiatives such as charter schools, vouchers, and individual savings accounts do not adversely affect public schools or access to a free and appropriate public education for students with disabilities. Support adequate funding for public schools. Advocate for appropriate behavioral supports and work to end unjust suspensions and discipline. Support reduced emphasis on state-mandated assessments, encourage limits on benchmark testing, and advocate for continuation of Individual Graduation Committees.
Community Living & Housing
Expansion of housing and community living options, as well as long-term supports. Gradual closure of State Supported Living Centers (SSLCs) so funding can be made available to expand community-based supports. Reduce the wait time for all Medicaid waiver interest lists. Increase the minimum Attendant Wage Rate (HHSC) to improve recruitment and retention of personal attendants for individuals with disabilities.
Health Care & Access To Treatment
Expand access to high quality, comprehensive, accessible and affordable health care services for all persons with autism. Expand Medicaid State Plan to cover Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Increase funding for the HHSC Children’s Autism Program. Properly fund ECI to ensure that all children in Texas who are eligible for services receive them.
Support initiatives that would increase the overall employment rate for people with autism.
Work to protect the inalienable human and civil rights of people with autism to live freely and safely. Actively strive to abolish stigmatization, abuse and neglect by supporting relevant policies and legislation. Advocate to develop and strengthen anti-bullying and anti-cyberbullying legislation and policies. Require training for all first responders on interacting with individuals with autism.
Seek increased access and funding for respite care. Improve childcare training, funding, and options for children with disabilities. Require autism training for all licensed childcare providers.
Autism Society of America: Federal Legislative Priorities
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 or concerns about Texas or Federal issues? Please contact Jacquie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ameen is the moderator of the San Antonio Adults with Asperger’s Syndrome Support Group that meets on the 1st Sunday of each month at the San Antonio Clubhouse. He has been on the Autism Society of Texas DreamWeek panel for the last two years (2017 & 2018) to share the experiences he faced and how he overcame adversity. He was diagnosed with Asperger’s in March of 2012. Through his association with the Order of Alhambra, he has given back time and treasure to help children and adults on the spectrum who continue to struggle in the face of these challenges.
Jacquie is Director of Advocacy & Outreach at the Autism Society of Texas. She serves on the Autism Society of America’s Public Policy Advocacy Committee and is on the steering committee for Texans For Special Education Reform. She is also in the 2018-19 class of Texas Partners in Policymaking. Jacquie has two family members with autism and is honored to advocate for the needs of autistic children and adults.
Irma has been a caregiver for her youngest son Steven for over 30 years, whom was diagnosed with Autism and Down Syndrome at an early age. She has been recognized by advocacy organizations such as the Gordon Hartman Foundation, Molina Healthcare and the Autism Society of America for giving back to the greater community with valuable resources and parent knowledge. Eva’s Heroes calls her a “super-mom” for her volunteerism. She continues to serve as co-chair to the Planning Network Advisory Committee, resource consultant for Texas Parent to Parent, and serves on the committee for Autism Lifeline Links Public Policy, featured in a December 2018 interview with the San Antonio Express-News.
Maverick Crawford III
Maverick Crawford III is a recent graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio and is currently a graduate student. He is in the 2018-2019 Texas Partners in Policymaking class and is employed as both a federal agent with the US Courthouse and a volunteer advocate with Texas Disability Rights. He is a humble and ambitious individual diagnosed with autism and is a dedicated advocate for those with autism and their families.
Gloria dela Garza-Rankin
Gloria is a special education advocate, disability rights advocate, and an active community volunteer. As a Texas Partners in Policymaking graduate (2017-18) and mother to two boys with autism, she advocates at the local, state and federal levels. Gloria encourages our legislators to support policies that allow those who are differently abled to have what they need to reach their full potential in life.
Ann Hart is a board member of the Autism Society of Texas and also a member of the Texas Autism Council. She has been involved in autism advocacy at some level for almost 30 years. In 2015 Ann was named Autism Society of America’s National Volunteer of the Year. Ann and her husband, Dave have a 33-year-old son with autism as well as an adult son and an adult daughter who are not disabled.
Bianca is a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) and the Vice President of Legislative Affairs for the Autism Society of Texas. A passionate human rights advocate and activist, she is the single parent of a son on the autism spectrum and is on the Board of Directors for the Autism Society of Texas. She graduated with honors from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a Master of Social Work degree in August of 2016, and received her Bachelor of Social Work degree from Our Lady of the Lake University in 2013. Bianca has written several articles on the topics of autism spectrum disorder and child care. Her work has appeared in the San Antonio Express News, the Rivard Report, the Houston Chronicle, and the Texas Tribune. She is in the 2018-2019 Texas Partners in Policymaking class and is also currently working on her clinical license to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW).
After years of testing and receiving a variety of mental and behavioral health services throughout my childhood, Sal became fascinated with psychology and with the idea of helping people like him who didn’t quite fit the mold. Once Sal earned his undergraduate degree in psychology from Stony Brook University, he moved on to study applied behavior analysis (ABA) in graduate school. It was during this time that he finally learned (25 years after his initial misdiagnosis) that he’s autistic. The revelation helped to direct his passion for helping others into doing everything he can for his community; especially if it means being able to help the next generation of kids on the spectrum. In addition to working as a pediatric behavior therapist while in the final stages of earning a graduate degree in ABA, he is also an administrator for an online support group for autistic adults. He also proudly serves on the Autism Society of Texas Board of Directors, and on the Autistic Adult Advisory Panel as liaison to the Board of Directors. It is his hope that sharing the panel’s insights into the neurodivergent point of view will aid the Autism Society of Texas in their endeavor to best serve the autistic community.
Join VELA for courses on Autism, Special Education, and Self Care for parents of children with special needs. Courses provide support, information, education and skills building so that parents can continue to care for their children and families.
Morning and evening courses available. Courses are offered in English or Spanish. All courses are FREE!
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 9:00 am-3 pm. We understand some people may need to arrive later (or leave earlier) due to work or family commitments.
Registration: Please register here.
Financial assistance: The registration fee helps to offset the costs of t-shirt, lunch and materials! At this time we can cover the cost of registration for those requiring financial assistance. Please email Jacquie at the email address below.
For questions about the event, please email Jacquie Benestante at email@example.com or call
(512) 479-4199, ext. 4.
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