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:
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com or call
Mark your calendar for April 26th! We’ll see you there!
Capitol Building Map: capitol_building_guide
Inexpensive parking is available in the Capitol Visitor’s Parking Garage. It is located at 1201 San Jacinto Blvd, Austin, TX 78701