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.
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.
Autism Society of Texas is proud to be one of many co-hosts supporting this event!
From the organizers:
The Texas Disability Issues Forum (TDIF) brings together members of the Texas disability community, major candidates for statewide office, and disability advocates to discuss current issues affecting the Texas disability community.
In 2018, invitees include major party candidates for Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, and US Senator.
The purpose of this candidate forum is to give Texas voters an opportunity to hear candidates discuss the issues of importance to the disability community prior to the November election. The candidates will answer questions curated from the Texas disability community during the moderated event. The forum follows a nonpartisan, unbiased, and impartial format in a series of one-on-one interviews.
The Forum will also be broadcast over Facebook Live at REV UP Texas, starting at 10:00 am CST.
More information about the Forum, updates, and registration at http://www.revuptexas.org/tdif-2018-landing-page/
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.
The 3rd Annual Autism Society Walk in the Park will be held Saturday, September 29th, 2018! The walk will be held in Richard Cuellar Park in San Antonio, Tx. Questions? Please email Lisa!
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 […] May News (5/30/2017) - To read about what’s going on in May click below: May Newsletter May Mid-Month Updates Subscribe to our newsletter here. American Health Care Act: Statement from Autism Society of America (5/9/2017) - May 5, 2017 The House of Representatives voted to pass the American Health Care Act (AHCA) with the addition of amendments that fail to reflect the reality of the lives of people with disabilities. The Autism Society of America, along with its many partners, are outraged by this vote. AHCA was not properly debated and […] 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 […]