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Sunday, January 7, 2018

Organizing for the Alabama Mandate

The Politics of Autism includes an extensive discussion of insurance and the regulation of autism service providers.

At The Montgomery Advertiser, Brian Lyman has an oral history of the passage of Alabama mandate legislation.  This section deals with organizing:
Catey Hall, parent and advocate: A small group of parents and the Autism Society had done this for six years. What they did not have was a strong presence of advocates and parents self-advocating, asking legislators to support them. We decided we’re going to do that this year.
Lisa Whitson Riley, parent and advocate (son George was diagnosed with autism at age 4): The Autism Society sent out newsletters. I set up a Facebook page the first go-around that we all then started tapping into and using. We would use the Facebook page. We needed people who weren’t on the Facebook page. I posted everything. I did Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. And there was another parent who did Instagram and Snapchat. We flooded social media.
Hall: We would say ‘We need people here.’ And people came. It was hard for those families. The ones who couldn’t secure child care, they would bring their children with autism there.

Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster:
Catey was in the balcony videotaping the debates and streaming it live on Facebook. We didn’t have it on Facebook in 2012.
Bama Hager, policy and program director, Autism Society of Alabama: The grassroots support for the Alabama Autism Insurance Law was so tremendous that lawmakers soon became interested in learning more about the absence of insurance coverage for children who have autism. Parents, self-advocates living with autism, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers, neighbors and friends were advocating ferociously for this bill for their loved ones.
Derek Trotter, lobbyist: There were generally a couple of advocates in the State House on session days. We made sure they touched their members and their senator that represents them and whoever they could get in front of.
Riley: I had coffee parties. What I did was I posted on Facebook, ‘Hey, come meet me at the coffee house.’ We would pass out the list and call senators and members of the House and ask them to support this bill. We personalized it. Not just calling and saying ‘Support this because I want you to,’ but ‘I know someone.’