May Mid-Month News

Check out what’s happening in the last half of May!  Read the newsletter here.

Hunter Hinze Fund Accepting Applications!

The Hunter Hinze Fund is accepting applications from May 1st-May 31, 2019. The Hunter Hinze Fund helps autistic adults live their dreams and maximize their potential as they transition throughout adulthood. The fund was launched by Dr. J.D. and Kathy Hinze, in conjunction with the Autism Society of Texas to honor the memory of their son, Hunter.

It is their wish that these funds be used for:

•services and supports that would provide autonomy, skill development; or

•a sense of purpose that promotes self-sufficiency and fosters independence.

Grants are available for individuals 18 years and older who have a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder and live Texas. You can read more about the fund here and find the applications here:

Apply Here: English

Aplicar aquí: Español

Thank you to the Hinze family and so many of you that generously donated to the fund. You have made this possible. The fund takes donations on an ongoing basis.

If you’d like to make a gift to the Hunter Hinze Fund to help adults in transition, you may give a donation online using the “Donate” button at the top right of the screen and in honor/memory of -please include For Hunter Hinze Fund.  Or a check can be mailed to Autism Society of Texas, 300 E.Highland Mall Blvd., #205, Austin, TX 78752. Please put Hunter Hinze Fund in memo line. Thank you! Questions:

Help Fix Special Education!
Please call and tell conference committee members (listed below), “Please support House Budget Rider X-9/ Senate Budget Rider III-75”.
These budget riders will:
1) Provide transparency about the progress of TEA’s corrective actions. The Texas Education Agency recently indicated that it cannot implement federally mandated overhauls to comply with special education IDEA requirements until at least June 2020! (Not acceptable!)
2) Require the Legislative Budget Board to examine how special education funding is being spent in Texas. Recent calculations show that Texas could have misspent nearly $223 MILLION.  (The federal 5th Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld a ruling that Texas improperly used federal funds to reduce state spending instead of supporting children who need special education services).
3)  Would create a report that would provide more clarity about how special education money is being spent.  (The TEA has been subject to some contracting scandals, and this would provide more transparency).
4)  Create a report on special education with a review by the Legislative Budget Board, which would provide critically-needed transparency to Texans and insight to the Legislature about how to fix special education in Texas.
Please contact/message via phone, tweet or Facebook!

Texas House Appropriations Committee:

Rep. John Zerwas, (512) 463-0657 (@johnzerwas) (@RepJohnZerwas)

Rep. Sarah Davis, (512) 463-0389 (@sarahdavisrep134) (@SarahforHD134)

Rep. Oscar Longoria, (512) 463-0645 (@RepLongoria) (@RepLongoria)

Rep. Armando Walle, (512) 463-0924 (@RepWalle) (@RepWalle)

Rep. Greg Bonnen, (512) 463-0729 (@DrGregBonnen) (@DrGregBonnen)

Texas Senate Finance Committee:

Senator Jane Nelson, (512) 463-0112 (@SenatorJaneNelson) (SenJaneNelson)

Senator Joan Huffman, (512) 463-0117 (@senatorjoanhuffman) (@joanhuffman)

Senator Lois Kolkhurst, (512) 463-0118 (@LoisKolkhorst) (@loiskolkhorst)

Senator Larry Taylor, (512) 463-0111 (@senlarrytaylor) (@SenLarryTaylor)

Senator Robert Nichols, (512) 463-0103 (@SenatorRobertNichols) (@SenatorNichols)

Thank you to Representative Gina Hinojosa for her work to support special education! Thank you to the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance Committee for including these budget riders.
A big thank you to Representative Mary González & Senator Kirk Watson for adding these amendments. 
May News

April may be over, but as usual, we’ll be spreading acceptance and awareness year-round! Check out our May newsletter! The Hunter Hinze Fund is accepting applications, we have multiple events this month including First Responder Community Day, The Possibility of Disability Art Show, and our Texas Autism Bike Ride and Fun Run makeup event this Sunday!

Read the May newsletter here:


April Mid-Month Updates

What’s coming up in then next few weeks? Advocacy Day, art & autism at Davis Gallery,  our make-up Park & Play Day, and many support groups! Read about it here.

Subscribe here.

April News

Check out our April newsletter to read about World Autism Awareness & Acceptance Day, our Texas Autism Bike Ride & Fun Run, and more!

Read it here.

Subscribe here.

Cookie Cutters Haircuts for Kids: Autism-Friendly!

In January 2017, the Autism Society of Texas staff went to Cookie Cutters Haircuts for Kids at the request of owner, Don Avena. Don wanted the stylists to learn how to work with children with autism during haircuts at his first Austin area Cookie Cutters Haircuts for Kids in Sunset Valley. He asked that we train his staff on how to make kids with autism more comfortable and tips for the stylists to use when working with children with autism and sensory issues so that a haircut can be a positive experience! At the same time we also created a training video about autism and sensory issues for the stylists to watch. Recently, we went to visit Don at the Arboretum location to check in. Don told us that ever since they opened their first salon, they have been very selective about hiring stylists because they want them to be “all-in” when it comes to being sensory friendly! Regarding the autism training, Don said, “They loved it and thought it was very useful. It gave them techniques to make haircuts as comfortable as possible”. When asked if the stylists reported significant improvements in how they relate to children with autism, Don said this: “Stylists feel better prepared. Using techniques & knowing what to expect dramatically improves the experience on the first visit. We really work to try to build the relationship and then the second visit is even better! Stylists can make notes on what triggers the child or what works.”  We heard from some very happy parents too! Erica, the Mom of a 4 year old with autism told us, “They blew me away with how compassionate and helpful they were. They had the hair stylist working on his hair and a helper blowing bubbles talking to my son and making things easier.” Paige, Mom of a 6 year old on the autism spectrum said, “They are patient and compassionate during every visit, and the laid back environment is so helpful. Having a TV at every station, a mini playground inside, and fun seats give it many advantages over the other places in Austin. Before we started going, my child would cry at every appointment – leading us to leave before we even started. This has never happened at Cookie Cutters. We are so thankful for Cookie Cutters and it’s staff!” Over the last two years, in addition to the Sunset Valley location, Don has opened three more locations in Pflugerville, the Arboretum, and Round Rock, and all stylists watch the sensory friendly video! Parents are welcome to bring their child for a visit, even without getting a haircut, and can let their child play on the playscape and look around, so the child gets used to being there before coming back another time for a haircut. Customers can also call in advance to let the salon know if a child has autism, and then book an appointment during a quieter time. We truly appreciate the commitment to improving the haircut experience for children with autism.

Cookie Cutters Haircuts For Kids was a King of the Road sponsor at our 2018 Texas Autism Bike Ride & Fun Run! We appreciate their support for our organization and their dedication to being autism-friendly!  You can find out more about their Austin-area locations here.

TX Lege Hearing Information: March 18-25th
Autism Society of  Texas Legislative Priorities here.
Sign up for our Email Advocacy List here.
Join us for Texas Autism Advocacy Day on 4/26. Sign up here!
HEARINGS 3/18-3/25
If you would like to make your position known on a bill and cannot register your position in person at a kiosk, or testify in person, please email the members of the committee directly and let them know if you are “FOR” or “AGAINST” a bill. Thank you!
You can find committee member lists & their email addresses here:
Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, Monday, March 18, 2019, 1:30 PM
For- HB 1139 Thompson, Senfronia | et al.
Relating to the applicability of the death penalty to a capital offense committed by a person with an intellectual disability. (The supreme court has ruled that sentencing someone with an IDD-Intellectual or Developmental Disability- to death violates the 8th amendment because it is cruel and unusual punishment).
House Public Education Committee, 8:00 AM, Tuesday, March 19, 2019 
Room: E2.036
HB 1453        Bernal
For- Relating to updating requirements for special education training and the make up of the State Board for Educator Certification Board. (A special ed. certified teacher with classroom experience must be on the board that makes decisions on teacher certification requirements).
House Human Services Committee, Tuesday, March 19, 2019 
Room:       E2.030
10:30 AM or upon final adjournment / recess or bill referral if permission granted
For- HB 1585        González, Mary
Relating to a study on interest or other waiting lists maintained for certain Medicaid programs providing services to persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Senate Education Committee Tuesday, March 19, 2019, 9;00 AM
Room: E1.028
For-  SB 213         Seliger
Relating to the use of individual graduation committees and other alternative methods to satisfy certain public high school graduation requirements. (This allows students in special education to graduate based on other factors like grades/coursework instead of STAAR & End of Course exams).
For- SB 1256
Requires TEA to make and maintain a list of teachers who cannot be hired or employed for a number of reasons and imposes penalties for those districts/schools that do so.
Against- SB 316         Hughes 
Relating to the attorney general’s duty to defend public school teachers.
For-SB 364   Watson 
Requires school districts to adopt a formal recess policy for the district.
For-SB 1256   Bettencourt
Relating to employing, terminating, and reporting the misconduct of public school personnel and related entity personnel, including creating a registry of persons ineligible for hire; creating criminal offenses.
Childcare Bill- assistance requested!
We are supporting HB 2883 & companion bill in Senate, SB 1744, to require childcare & after school care providers be trained about autism & disabilities, & prevent discrimination. We need the bills to go to a committee for a hearing! Please email or call members of Senate Health & Human Services (for SB 1744) AND House Human Services (for HB 2883) and ask them to support these bills!
General information about testifying & logistics:
How to register your position or log in to testify from your own device while you’re at the Capitol (scroll down to “Mobile Device Access” once you open the link):
Senate Bills: The Senate usually has cards that you fill out by hand or you can try to register your position online here:\ 
If you use the kiosks at the Capitol, they look like ipads and are set up near hearing rooms. You can use them instead to register to testify OR to log your position on a bill if you cannot stay & testify. Als0, sometimes the Senate will have you fill out a card instead of registering online, so check at the hearing room, even if you just want to register your position.
Capitol Address: 1100 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701
Capitol Visitor Parking Garage address: 1201 San Jacinto Blvd, Austin, TX 78701
Here are some great tips on testifying from Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities:
Please email Jacquie with any questions, or call 512-479-4199, Ext. 4.


HB 3: Include Special Ed. Funding!

HB 3 will be heard in the Public Education Committee today, Tuesday 3/12!  We need you to send emails & or make calls asking for  HB 3 to be amended to include Special Education funding today & tomorrow!

Hearing notice: (

Don’t stop calling/emailing until you hear that HB 3 has  been amended to include our kids! Please do this today if possible, but the next couple of days also ok! 

Please CALL/EMAIL the House of Representatives Public Education Committee, and your own State Senator & Representative using the links & email addresses below, provided by our friends at CTD- Coalition of Texans with Disabilities.
If you don’t have much time, please email this abridged version of CTD’s talking points!  Cut & paste the following into an email:
HB 3 should include all disability types and be restructured to provide the most service for those who need the most support. 
Reforming special education allocations and funding weights must be part of this transformative school funding effort.
Please don’t leave students receiving special education services and supports in this broken system!
Your Name 
Address, Phone/Email
Thanks for your help on this critical issue! Please email me with questions/concerns! Thank you!

March News

Check out our March newsletter! Read about our upcoming bike ride, Advocacy Day, support group meetings, and more!

Subscribe here.