News


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September News
Check out our September newsletter! From AutFest at Home: The Sequel, to our Virtual Texas Autism Bike Ride & Fun Run, to our online support groups and advococy initiatives, we have a lot going on throughout the month! Read the September newsletter here. Subscribe here.
Vote 2020!

A note from Autism Society of Texas:

Are you registered to vote? Calling all autistic adults, parent/caregivers of those with autism, autism support professionals and friends and family! We need you! Every vote counts. The autism community is broad, and electing those that will support those with disabilities has a huge impact on the lives of individuals with autism and those that support them! Please join the greater disability community and pledge to vote!  Register by October 5th! Need help or have questions? Contact jacquie@texasautismsociety.org or email Rev Up.

Voting information from our friends at Rev Up:

More than any time in memory:

  • Elected leaders and political candidates are recognizing more than 5.4 MILLION Texans with disabilities— from birth to advanced age—as a powerful, important constituency
  • Issues important to people with disabilities must be part of the platform for any candidate running for public office.

    Join thousands of Texans with disabilities in this important and historic effort!

    The November 3, 2020, General Election will be one of the most important elections.The disability community—people with disabilities, family members, attendants, providers, professionals, advocates and supporters—has a major stake in the outcome of this election.

    The Disability Vote! can make a difference on issues such as:

USE YOUR POWER! TO VOTE YOU MUST REGISTER BY OCTOBER 5! www.Register2Vote.org

  • Protections and enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  • Adequate funding and coverage for Medicaid acute and long-term services and supports.
  • No healthcare rationing.
  • Eliminate institutional bias in Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance.
  • Eliminate waiting lists for home and community services.
  • Consolidation and closure of public institutions.
  • Increase availability of accessible, affordable, integrated housing.
  • Implementation and enforcement of the “most integrated setting” requirements in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  • Affordable healthcare for all, including pre-existing conditions.
  • Integrated employment at no less than minimum wage.
  • Adequate funding for quality public and higher education.
  • Recruitment and retention strategies for improved wages and benefits for community attendants.
  • Quality Medicaid managed care with strict accountability measures.

I Pledge to VOTE! (Send the form below to REV UP Texas, 1100 I-35, Austin TX 78704)

Name: ______________________________________________________________________________ Address: ____________________________________________________________________________ City: _________________________________ State________________ ZIP_______________________ Email: ________________________________________________ Phone: ________________________

Hurricane Laura Information: Assistance & Resources

Hurricane Laura Information: Assistance & Resources

If you are a family or an adult with autism seeking assistance after Hurricane Laura:  If you have phone or internet service, please contact the organizations below for support. 

Red Cross:

https://www.redcross.org/about-us/our-work/disaster-relief/hurricane-relief/hurricane-laura-relief.html

Texas 211

https://www.211texas.org/211/ 

Provides a voluntary registry for people who need assistance and evacuation in the case of a hurricane or natural disaster. The public may register year-round. Registry information will be forwarded to local Offices of Emergency Management (OEMs). Local OEMs have the responsibility for coordinating evacuations.

FEMA

See link to Disability Rights Texas below with tips to apply for FEMA assistance.

https://www.fema.gov/

READY.GOV

https://www.ready.gov/

Hurricane Guide For Families (Sesame Street):  SupportAfterEmergency_Printable_Hurricane_FamilyGuide

Disaster Distress Hotline:

The Disaster Distress Helpline, 1-800-985-5990, is a 24/7, 365-day-a–year, national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster. This toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service is available to all residents in the United States and its territories. Stress, anxiety, and other depression-like symptoms are common reactions after a disaster. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.

(https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/disaster-distress-helpline)

Houston & East Texas Shelters:

https://www.click2houston.com/news/local/2020/08/25/list-texas-shelters-open-to-evacuees-ahead-of-hurricane-laura/

Austin Shelters:

List of shelters for evacuees, residents seeking shelter

Austin Disaster Relief (aid throughout Texas, not just Austin)

https://www.adrn.org

Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies

Phone: (800) 626-4959

Website: https://disasterstrategies.org/

The Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies (The Partnership) is the only U.S. disability-led organization with a focused mission on equal access, disability rights and full inclusion of people with disabilities, older adults, and people with access and functional needs before, during, and after disasters and emergencies.

Disability Rights Texas

How to register for FEMA assistance & resources to help you with your registration:

https://tinyurl.com/DRTXHurricane

You can also call our office (512) 479-4199, ext 6 or the national office (1-800-3-Autism or 1-800- 328-8476) for autism navigational or emotional support, or email support@texasautismsociety.org.

AAC Disaster Relief

The AAC Disaster Relief Committee (subcommittee organized by the United States Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication) works to help anyone who has lost their communication system due to natural disasters. The systems are being replaced free of charge to families through financial support. Please visit their website for more information, or to volunteer for the organization:

https://aacdisasterrelief.recovers.org/

Help us Implement the Medicaid ABA Benefit!

Another action is required to move the ABA program forward!

Your efforts, along with other advocates and providers, pushed the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to take a small step forward in implementing the Medicaid ABA benefit!

HHSC has sent a letter asking the Governor’s office and the Legislative Budget Board (LBB) to approve funding for the program. HHSC also included proposed rates for provider reimbursement and set a date for the program to start (if funded) for March 1st of 2021 – a year later than was proposed in December of 2019.

Now we need a second push! 

Please contact the Governor’s office, House and Senate Leadership, and the member of LBB listed below and tell them:

  • Approve funding for the $7.9 million dollar General Revenue request for intensive intervention behavior services for the remainder of the 2020-21 biennium

It’s also important to remind decision-makers that HHSC must:

  • Set “reasonable provider reimbursement rates” to ensure that all children who qualify for the benefit will receive services
  • Don’t predetermine and limit services by age – allocate supports according to medical necessity
  • Keep other autism services like the Children’s Autism Program separate as the other programs provide a unique set of critical supports and services

Please call or email these offices:

Governor’s Office (512) 463-1762 greg.abbott@gov.texas.gov
Lt. Governor – Dan Patrick (512) 463-0001 dan.patrick@ltgov.state.tx.us
Speaker of the House – Dennis Bonnen (512) 463-1000 dennis.bonnen@house.texas.gov
Senator Jane Nelson (512) 463-0112 jane.nelson@senate.texas.gov
Senator  Kelly Hancock (512) 463-0109 kelly.hancock@senate.texas.gov
Senator Larry Taylor (512) 463-0111 larry.taylor@senate.texas.gov
Senator Joan Huffman (512) 463-0117 joan.huffman@senate.texas.gov
Representative Giovanni Capriglione (512) 463-0690 giovanni.capriglione@house.texas.gov
Representative Oscar Longoria (512) 463-0645 oscar.longoria@house.texas.gov
Representative Dustin Burrows (512) 463-0542 dustin.burrows@house.texas.gov
Representative Mary Gonzalez (512) 463-0613 mary.gonzalez@house.texas.gov

As a reference, below are the information sheets on the Medicaid ABA Benefit, the Children’s Autism Program, and What is ABA? from our first Medicaid/ABA alert.

Implement Rider 32 – Medicaid ABA Benefit! Children’s Autism Program (CAP) One-Page Information Sheet What is Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy? IBI vs. ABA, and Rider 32
Take Action! Make the Medicaid ABA Benefit available to families!

It’s time to flex our advocacy muscles and let our Texas Legislators and leadership know that we expect the state agency in charge of “Improving the health, safety and well-being of Texans with good stewardship of public resources” to immediately implement the Medicaid IBI/ABA Services Benefit.

You might remember advocating last session in 2019 for the passage of the Medicaid Autism Benefit.  And you may have heard that the program would be available in Spring of 2020. Unfortunately all progress stopped in December of 2019 and the program appears to be on indefinite hold.

We need your help! 

Please send an e-mail or call your representatives in both the Texas House and Texas Senate and tell them that HHSC must immediately implement Rider 32, the Medicaid IBI/ABA Services Benefit, to support families who desperately need these intensive, life-changing therapies.


We’ve developed three information sheets to remind you of the history of the program and to answer any questions that legislative staff may have.

Implement Rider 32 – Medicaid ABA Benefit! Children’s Autism Program (CAP) One-Page Information Sheet What is Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy? IBI vs. ABA, and Rider 32

Who Represents Me? – Use this online database to find your representative – remember some of Texas’ districts are so gerrymandered that you will have to include your full address to find your representative.

Keep in mind when making calls that many people are working from home so you may need to leave a short but informative message with your contact information for a call-back or give them that AST’s advocacy team contact information: 512-479-4199 Ext.10, or advocacy@texasautismsociety.org.

We encourage you to tell your own stories about how important this issue is to you, but if you need one – there’s a script below.

—————————————————————————————————————–

Script:

Hello, my name is ______ .  May I speak to the staff member in charge of Medicaid or Health and Human Services issues.

  • Stress the importance of the Medicaid IBI/ABA Services Benefit
  • Use your own stories or talk about how this benefits the entire autism community
  • The ASK: Please consider sending a letter or directly contacting HHS leadership to encourage the immediately implementation of  Rider 32, (the Medicaid IBI/ABA Services Benefit) to support families who desperately need these intensive, life-changing therapies
  • Thank the staff member for their time and ask if you can send them more information on this crucial issue.

——————————————————————————————————————–

Let us know if you were successful or if AST Advocacy staff need to do any follow-ups at 512-479-4199 Ext:10 or  advocacy@texasautismsociety.org

AND,

If you have time – there’s a group of important legislators and leadership that also needs to hear from you.

Governor’s Office (512) 463-1762
Lt. Governor – Dan Patrick (512) 463-0001
Speaker of the House – Dennis Bonnen (512) 463-1000
Senator Jane Nelson (512) 463-0112
Senator Chuy Hinojosa (512) 463-0120
Seantor Lois Kolkhorst (512) 463-0118
Senator Charles Schwertner (512) 463-0105
Representative Four Price (512) 463-0470
Representative James Frank (512) 463-0534
Representative Richard Raymond (512) 463-0558
Representative Toni Rose (512) 463-0664
Representative Sarah Davis (512) 463-0389
Representative J. D. Sheffield (512) 463-0628
Representative Philip Cortez (512) 463-0269
Representative Cole Hefner (512) 463-0271
Representative John Turner (512) 463-0576
Representative Gina Hinojosa (512) 463-0668
Representative Travis Clardy (512) 463-0592
Representative Joe Deshotel (512) 463-0662
Representative Stephanie Klick (512) 463-0599
Representative Terry Meza (512) 463-0641
Representative Rick Miller (512) 463-0710
Representative Candy Noble (512) 463-0186
Representative Garnet Coleman (512) 463-0524
Representative Senfronia Thompson (512) 463-0720
Representative Eddie Lucio III (512) 463-0606
Representative Bobby Guerra (512) 463-0578
Seantor Dawn Buckingham (512) 463-0124
Seantor Charles Perry (512) 463-0128
Seantor Donna Campbell (512) 463-0125
Seantor Peter P. Flores (512) 463-0119
Seantor Nathan Johnson (512) 463-0116
Seantor Borris L. Miles (512) 463-0113
Seantor Beverly Powell (512) 463-0110
Seantor Kel Seliger (512) 463-0131

To get on our Advocacy alert email list please sign up here: https://tinyurl.com/ASTAdvocacy

August News

Learn more about our exciting plans for the virtual Texas Autism Bike Ride & Fun Run, meet our amazing supporters, Amy & Michael Ota, learn about AutFestTexas: The Sequel on 9/13, and the continuation of many of our free groups online for teens, kids and adults!

Read it here.

Subscribe here.

UT Law Clinic helps people with autism & other disabilities!
Did you know the University of Texas Law Scholars have a pro bono law clinic covering many topics that assist families and individuals impacted by autism and other disabilities? Free assistance is available in Spanish and English. This clinic, known as the INCLUDE Project of the Mithoff Pro Bono Program, provides free legal assistance on topics such as SPEAK (Supporting Parents’ Education, Advocacy, and Knowledge), Special Education Casework, Medicaid, Psychiatric Advanced Directives, and Supported Decision Making! If you need assistance in these areas, please contact the law students directly! Law students work under the supervision of licensed attorneys and professors. Due to COVID-19 they are working virtually, so can assist people statewide! See descriptions and email contact list below.
Special Education Casework & SPEAK (Supporting Parents’ Education, Advocacy, and Knowledge)
Law students, under the supervision of licensed attorneys and professors, work directly with parents of special education students to prepare and educate families regarding special education law and disputes. Law students ensure parents are familiar with the IEP process and aware of their children’s legal right to receive a free and appropriate legal education (FAPE). In especially difficult cases or cases where schools are not fulfilling their obligations, parents can request additional casework support from INCLUDE, including representation in mediation and due process where necessary.
Samantha Westrum, email: samanthawestrum@utexas.edu
Medicaid Evidence Workshop
Law students help Medicaid recipients obtain medically necessary nursing, services, or equipment through the fair hearing administrative process. 
John C. Ruff, email: channingruff@utmail.utexas.edu
Psychiatric Advanced Directives
Allows someone to select their preferences for psychiatric treatment so doctors know their preferences if they are unable to communicate them. (Also known as Declarations of Mental Health Treatment in Texas).
Midushi Pandey, email: mpandey@utexas.edu
mpandey@utexas.edu
Supported Decision Making Agreements (SDMA’s)
Supported Decision-Making Agreements (SDMA’s) are a great alternative to guardianship. These agreements are completely free and are effective instantly. Not only that, but SDMA’s are customizable to the needs of the applicant, ensuring they stay independent and in control!
Atticus Finch, email: atticusfinch@utexas.edu
July News

Check out what’s happening in July! Free kids & teens social groups, help us provide funds for adult scholarships through the Hunter Hinze Fund, support & rec groups for autistic adults, support groups for caregivers, Zumba for Autism, and Respite & Support Services Brown Bag Learning Event!

Read it here.

Subscribe here. 

June News

Please note, we will just have one newsletter at the start of the month in June, July & August. 

Read the June newsletter here.  Subscribe here.

May Mid-Month Updates

Check out our May Mid-Month Updates! Read here. Subscribe here.