Advocacy and Autism Acceptance Monthby ASNV Board Member, Edward Zetlin, Esq. (703-379-0442, firstname.lastname@example.org)
When April 2 was designated World Autism Awareness Day by the United Nations in 1989, it brought much needed attention to autism, addressing the stigma and the support structures this disorder necessitates.
But World Autism Awareness Day is just one step. Now is the time to go beyond the goals of WAAD and work for a more inclusive society which highlights the autistic talents and ensures the opportunities for all to realize their potential.
With this in mind, the Autism Society of Northern Virginia is proud to participate in Autism Acceptance Month. The goal of Autism Acceptance Month is to accept those with autism for who they are, with or without autism. It means celebrating and advocating for all people in the diverse society we live in.
The Autism Society advocates for those with autism on both levels-addressing the stigma inherent inf and the support structures necessary for this disorder and teaching acceptance of those with autism.
Below is an update as to how this is being accomplished.
How The Autism Society Continues to Address the Support Structures this Disorder Requires
On the Federal Level - They keep an eye on federal legislation such as the ‘Keeping All Students Safe Act’ and other federal proposals via lobbying.
On the Virginia Level-The Autism Society provides Constant Monitoring. Medicaid Waivers fund support services that allow the disabled to stay out of nursing homes. In Virginia the question is always-is there sufficient funding in the state budget to meet the increasing request for Medicaid waivers. Funding is needed not only to help those transitioning from training centers into the community but for new applicants into training centers.
Waiver Reform – there are proposed changes in how Virginia manages its Medicaid Waiver program. The Autism Society wants to insure that whatever changes are made meet the needs of those who require services.
Managed Care – The Waiver program is already transitioning to a managed care model. Is it possible to ensure that a managed care model really works instead of becoming a vehicle for the state to control costs by denying services.
On The Local Level – The Autism Society continues to advocate before local government boards to ensure programs that they have fought for are maintained and not gutted by new budget proposals.
How The Autism Society Marks Autism Acceptance Month?
A member of the Advocacy Committee, Sharon Cummings and her adult son Connor will be leading Autism Acceptance Forums on April 5 in Woodbridge and April 8 in Leesburg. They will discuss what it is like to be part of a family with an autistic member; the resources, mentors and programs that can help. This program will focus on giving the participants a better understanding that no two children or adults with are the same with Autism.
- Autism Advocates Forum - On May 14 between 7:00 – 9:00 we have scheduled our next Advocacy Training event. So far we have 170 people who have signed up to be ‘Autism Advocates’. Throughout the year we have held training events on issues and advocacy skills.
At the next forum we want to concentrate on creating a Story Bank that can help bring home the issues to legislatures in a most personal and direct way.