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

Sep
12
Tue
VELA Courses @ VELA
Sep 12 @ 9:30 am – Dec 14 @ 12:00 pm

VELA offers FREE courses to parents of children with special needs in English or Spanish. Courses start in September and October with the following topics:
Autism Course
Special Education in the Schools Course
Taking Care of You Course

 

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 […]
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 […]