Autism Society of America’s “Day on the Hill”

AS Texas logo

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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 encouraged the need for bipartisan support on key legislative priorities including Medicaid, retaining provisions under the Affordable Care Act, and protecting the rights and needs of students receiving special education services.


  • Requires bipartisan support to protect Medicaid from cuts and structural changes that would impact children and adults with autism
  • Ensure Medicaid is not block granted or changed to per capita caps that would open the door to federal budget cuts and allow states to change Medicaid funding and reduce eligibility and benefits for people with disabilities, including autism

Affordable Care Act (ACA)

  • Ensure the needs of children and adults with autism are protected under potential replacement or repeal of ACA
  • Safeguard health insurance so that it is affordable, comprehensive, and does not discriminate against people with health conditions or disabilities, such as autism
  • ACA is not repealed unless there is a simultaneous replacement with a plan that maintains or improves existing coverage and access, and includes coverage for pre-existing conditions and the ability for young adults to stay on their parents’ policies until age 26


  • Fully fund IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act) and protect the rights & remedies afforded to students under IDEA
  • Ensure that ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) regulations create a strong accountability system that allows states, districts and schools to raise achievement for all, including students with disabilities

After a day of issues training, Autism Society affiliates met with legislators from their home states to discuss the legislative priorities. Jacquie met with staff from Senator John Cornyn & Senator Ted Cruz’s office, as well as staff members from the offices of Representative Jodey Arrington, Representative Kevin Brady, Representative Kenny Marchant, and Representative Sam Johnson.

Are you one of an estimated 400,000 Texans affected by autism? Please let your U.S. Senators & U.S Representatives know how these issues affect you or your family. Use the links below to email or call and let our Senators and Representatives know how these legislative priorities affect you or a loved one with autism.

Contact your U.S. Representatives: 

Find your U.S. Representative 

Contact your U.S. Senators:

Senator John Cornyn


Washington D.C. Office: 202-224-2934

Central Texas Office: 512-469-6034

Senator Ted Cruz


Washington D.C. Office: 202-224-5922

Central Texas Office:  512-916-5834

For questions or more information about legislative priorities, please contact

February Advocacy News

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Read about what’s going on in Texas and hear about our upcoming trip to Washington D.C.

February Advocacy News

Welcome to our Spring 2017 Intern!

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Kiki McGuinn
MSSW Intern

Kiki McGuinn received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Spanish at Seattle University in Washington State. She moved to San Francisco to participate in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps where she worked as a Children’s Program Assistant at Raphael House, a homeless shelter for families in the Tenderloin neighborhood. She was then placed in Austin to continue in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps as a Case Manager at Saint Louise House, a long term supportive housing program for single mothers. She decided to return to school for her MSSW at the University of Texas at Austin and is currently in her second year in the APP concentration. In her spare time she enjoys exploring Austin’s music scene, playing trivia, and reading.

Kiki will be working with the Autism Society staff in all areas during her internship!  She can be reached at or (512) 479-4199.  Kiki has already begun to tackle some great projects for Autism Society of Texas! We are excited to have her on board!


Brown Bag Learning Lunch Series

In January we started a new monthly series, the Brown Bag Learning Lunch.  Join us at our office (or watch live on Facebook), as we discuss different issues affecting individuals and families with autism. Feel free to bring your lunch with you as you hear from local experts. Check out the upcoming events below.  For more information please email Caroline at
Brown Bag Flyer Feb-April



Announcing Autism Society of Texas!

AS Texas logo


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, Gonzales, Guadalupe,  Hays, Kendall, Kerr,  Lampasas Lee, Llano, Medina, Milam, Travis Williamson, Wilson counties. Our service coverage for Information and Referral, Support, Advocacy and Education will now be statewide. With this change brings on two chapters joining the Autism Society of Texas: Gulf Coast Chapter in Houston and El Paso Chapter. The Houston Chapter will provide support and coverage for families living in the counties of Beaumont, Brazoria, Chambers, Galveston, Fort Bend, Harris and Magnolia and El Paso Chapter will support El Paso County. “There is strength in numbers and we look forward to strengthening and empowering our fellow Texas families.” Bonnie Perez, Board President, Autism Society of Texas El Paso Chapter.

We are excited to expand our coverage to serve more areas of Texas and hope to broaden our reach to meet those areas in rural or underserved communities in need of autism resources.

“The Autism Society of Texas will expand our mission to improve the lives of all affected by autism and is eager to coordinate with our Chapters to better meet the needs of Texans living with autism. All of our work is geared to strengthen and support those with autism and we hope to help more individuals and families navigate life with necessary supports.” Suzanne Potts, Executive Director.

The Autism Society is the nation’s largest and oldest grassroots autism organization.  Founded in 1965, the Autism Society and its national network of local affiliates is dedicated to improving the lives of those living with autism, supporting families and communities, and ensuring that individuals lead lives that include acceptance, dignity, and independence to the greatest extent possible.

As one of over 100 local affiliates, the Autism Society of Texas has supported families and individuals with autism for over 26 years here in Texas and is dedicated to improving lives in our community through a series of services and supports.  The Autism Society of Texas is proud of our programs and initiatives and the contributions we make to our community:

  • Information and Referrals
  • Support
  • Education and Training
  • Advocacy
  • Community Inclusion

Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability, affecting 1 in 68 individuals in 2014.  It is a complex neurodevelopmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others.  Based on the Center for Disease Control’s rate of incidence (1 in 68), the Autism Society estimates there are over 2 million individuals living with autism in the United States.   Further, it is estimated that nearly 46,000 new families will begin their journey with autism this year.

For more information please email us at

Autism Society TX Press Release

Autism Advocacy News: January 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.


Funding Resource

The Masonic Home and School of Texas (MHS) offers funding for families with children with autism.

MHS operated as a children’s home and ISD for over 100 years until 2005.  At that time, they closed the child care facility and ISD and changed our mission.  They now operate as a children’s charity and help to fund things like dental care, medical care, medications, food, clothing, school supplies and ABA therapy for autistic children. They are primarily a funding source .  Families in need contact MHS, fill out an application, and their team makes a determination regarding any funding assistance they may or may not be able to provide.

Families are served across the state of Texas up to age 21.  Check out their website here.

Free Parent Training for Military Families


Free training for current & retired military families- 5 week course begins next week. (1/9/17 week).

Training Details
· Training is provided via online modules and videoconferencing with a Board Certified Behavior Analyst-Doctoral level
· The curriculum lasts 5-weeks and parents should expect to spend about 30 minutes on independent work and 1 hour with their BCBA-D per week (approximately 7.5 hours total)

Please note that the project requires the families to fit the following qualifications in order to participate:
· Military affiliated family member (active, guard, retired, or reserves)
· Currently living in Texas but can be located anywhere in Texas
· Have access to technology to video recording interaction between self and child (e.g. video camera, cell phone, tablet)
· Have access to secure internet connection for training modules and uploading videos (e.g. DropBox, EliAdemy)
· Video conferencing technology (e.g. FaceTime, Skype) for face-to-face with BCBA-D trainer

Sign Up Here using the Google Form:

Contact information:

Leslie Neely, Ph.D., BCBA-D
Assistant Professor of Educational Psychology
Applied Behavior Analysis Program Coordinator
Downtown Campus, Durango Building 4.335
University of Texas at San Antonio


Recognize Good: Vote Dianne Doggett for Autism Society of Central Texas!


Many of you know that Dianne Doggett, one of our longtime volunteers who runs the Autism Treatment Forum Support Group, was honored with a Recognize Good Award in 2016!  She is now in a contest to win $10,000 for Autism Society of Central Texas!

How Does It Work?

Anyone in the world may say thanks to Dianne every day from January 5th through January 30th, once per day per voting method. That means one person maxing out their Thank You votes could cast as many as 156 votes singlehandedly for one Legend (6 votes per day for 26 days). That means dedication counts! Our way of balancing the scales between nonprofits large and small. The voting methods are:

1. CLICK – Dianne’s name at the “Vote Say Thanks, Austin” link on
2. TEXT – DOGGETT to (512) 456-9244
3. MESSAGE TO FACEBOOK– DOGGETT to our Facebook fan page at
4. TWEET – DOGGETT to @RecognizeGood with the hashtag #saythanksaustin
5. EMAIL – DOGGETT (in the subject line) to
6. WRITE IN – your name, then sign and date where indicated on Say Thanks forms. Download the form here: dianne-doggett-form



January Newsletter! Happy New Year!


Read the January Newsletter.

Happy New Year! We have so many great things planned for 2017!  Please read our newsletter for all the updates!

Coming up this weekend we have our free monthly Crossfit at a new day and time (Saturdays at 10:30 AM)! We are also starting a new adult sibling support group for adults who have a sibling on the spectrum. Our High School Social Group is meeting this Saturday 1/7, we’re starting a new support group in San Marcos, and a new evening support group in Austin! We’re also starting a new series called “Brown Bag Learning Lunch”! The first one is on 1/11, the topic is adult employment. Check the calendar in the newsletter for details! Thank you to our new volunteer leaders Robbin, Mary & Lucia for making these new groups possible!