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Monday, February 1, 2016

Autism Action Plan

The Politics of Autism includes an extensive discussion of policy initiatives in the states.

New York State Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara (D-Rotterdam) -- the father of a 14-year-old autistic son named Michael -- has announced new legislation.  At TWC, Tamara Lindstrom reports:
Helping people like Michael do things for themselves is one of the goals of Santabarbara's Autism Action Plan. Unveiled Friday amid a host of supporters, the five-point plan addresses those common communication issues, establishing better access to information and adding communication support to the state's existing vocational programs.
"It will make job placement more successful, but it will also help people find the right jobs," Santabarbara said.
A standard autism ID card would help law enforcement and first responders aid people who have trouble communicating.
"You will know that there's a diagnosis, so this is a special situation," Santabarbara said. "So it has to be handled in a special way."
And a new loan program would help homeowners build an apartment for loved ones with special needs.

"It allows families to leverage their own resources to create an independent living situation, as independent as it can be," the Assemblyman added. "It's sort of specialized, too, because you can build to the needs of your loved one."

A new statewide Autism Spectrum Disorder Advisory Board would oversee all of this. Santabarbara says the whole plan wouldn't cost much. He hopes to get it passed by state lawmakers by the end of the year.
Lucas Willard reports at WAMC:
“This plan would be building on things that may already be existing – existing infrastructures, resources – but also incorporating new information as it becomes available. As we said, year after year, we’re getting more information. We’re getting more and more information, we’re getting more and more data, more and more statistics. SO this board would be responsible for coming up with a plan, what best practices are, what’s working, what’s not working, what can be improved, and also collecting data.”

Some parts of the package have been advocated for before, like the creation of a state recognized autism identification card.

Kate Palmer is president and CEO of the Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership, or GRASP. Palmer says she’s been talking with families about the benefits of a standardized ID card for some time.

“There are several organizations that provide identifications cards but I think this one is really a wonderful opportunity for New York state families because they’re going to be recognizable across the board for first responders, and I think that’s a very important piece.”