July 2015



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Archive for July, 2015

In honor of the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) is very pleased to announce the beginning of a new college scholarship program for autistic students, the Autistic Scholars Fellowship.


The ASAN Autistic Scholars Fellowship program, a new ASAN project to advance campus leadership, will provide 3 to 5 autistic students $5,000 tuition scholarships each to create systems change on their college campuses. Fellows will be required to establish or participate in a leadership role within an ASAN campus chapter or a disability rights student organization, work to promote Autistic culture and community, and take steps to improve disability accessibility and inclusion on their college campuses. Fellows are also expected to check in with ASAN on a monthly basis to receive support in achieving their advocacy projects. Applicants must be Autistic, be willing to publicly identify as such and should have a strong interest in disability rights advocacy and activism.


Scholarship applications can be found here. Completed applications for the January 2016 scholarship period are due on November 15. Application questions will ask students to describe the current problems for autistic and other disabled students on their college campuses and explain how their planned activities under the fellowship will enable them address these problems. ASAN staff will review completed applications and interview a select group of students starting in mid-November. We expect to inform fellowship recipients of their selection by mid-December.


ASAN will look for the following indicators when screening applicants for the scholarship:

  • *Strong interest in civil rights advocacy and activism for autistic people and other people with disabilities. If students are not yet involved in disability rights, involvement in or support for other causes can demonstrate potential for leading disability rights efforts.
  • * A background in and experience with the values of the neurodiversity movement
  • * A commitment to building Autistic culture and community on their college campus or in their local community 
  • * Commitment to working with all autistic people in an inclusive and welcoming fashion


ASAN is able to offer this program thanks to the support of a generous donor.


Questions about the fellowship program and the application process should be directed to Natalia Rivera Morales, Leadership Programs Coordinator for ASAN, at nriveramorales@autisticadvocacy.org.

Dear friends,


Over the course of the last year, ASAN and our allies have been working with our allies in Congress to craft groundbreaking new legislation on employment of people with disabilities. The Transition to Independence Act (S. 1604), introduced last month by Senators Grassley, Wyden and Casey, is the result of those efforts. 


This bill would create a ten-state demonstration program that would provide states with Medicaid bonus payments for closing segregated settings, like sheltered workshops, and increasing integrated employment of people with disabilities. You can read the bill text here or check out ASAN’s two page description of the bill on our website.


This is an exciting opportunity for people with disabilities to make real progress in being included in the workforce. And we need your help to make it happen. Here are three things you can do to help build support behind the Transition to Independence Act.


1) Call your Senators and ask them to co-sponsor S. 1604. You can do this by dialing the Capitol Switchboard, giving the person there your state and asking to be connected with your Senator’s office. Consider using this script:


“Hi, I’m a constituent of Senator ___ living in [Your Town],[Home State]. I’m calling to ask the Senator to co-sponsor S. 1604, the Transition to Independence Act, bi-partisan legislation introduced by Senators Grassley, Wyden and Casey designed to help people with disabilities get into the workforce. Can I talk to the staffer responsible for Medicaid or disability issues in your office?”

If connected, tell them about S. 1604 and explain why employment of people with disabilities matters to you. Try using this script: 


“Hi, I’m a constitutent of Senator ____ living in [Your Town], [Home State]. I’d like to ask the Senator to co-sponsor S. 1604, the Transition to Independence Act. It’s bi-partisan legislation that would reward states with bonus payments for expanding integrated employment. People with disabilities are often stuck in sheltered workshops and other segregated settings. This bill would give states bonus payments if they helped move people into integrated workplaces. Would your office be willing to co-sponsor S. 1604?”

If you aren’t connected, make sure to leave a message for the Senator with the person who picks up the phone, making sure they know the bill number, name and your desire for them to co-sponsor. Either way, ask for an e-mail address to follow up. Try to do this for both of your Senators – remember, there are two in each state!


2) Set up a meeting at your Senator’s District Office in the month of August. Congress adjourns for most of August, so this is a great time to try and meet with your Senator directly or with senior staff members that work for him or her. Check your Senator’s website to find out where the district office closest to you is, and ask for a meeting during the August congressional recess. 


When you attend, feel free to use our two page fact sheet to help educate them about why supporting the Transition to Independence Act is important. After the meeting, e-mail ASAN at info@autisticadvocacy.org so that we can follow up here in DC.


3) Tweet at your Senators asking them to support S.1604. This isn’t as effective as calling or setting up a meeting, but can be a useful addition on top of those things. You can find your Senator’s twitter handle here and a list of sample tweets for you to use here.


This month marks the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. People with disabilities have been excluded from the workplace for far too long. With your help, we can make a difference. Tell Congress it’s time to act on disability employment.


Nothing About Us, Without Us!



Ari Ne’eman



Autistic Self Advocacy Network

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network is proud to announce the release of a new resource for autistic people and our families on Medicaid coverage for autism-related services. These services can include developmental approaches regarding social communication, sensory integration, emotional regulation, and adaptive skills.


Until now, much advocacy for coverage of “autism interventions” has focused on purely behavioral approaches, like Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA). These interventions can be inappropriate or even harmful, and exclusive focus on coverage for behavioral interventions can result in limited access to evidence-based and emerging models that focus on improving relationships, communication skills, and development of skills that are meaningful to individuals’ quality of life. 


Fortunately, Medicaid law allows states to cover a wide range of interventions. Moreover, Medicaid beneficiaries under the age of 21 are entitled to coverage for interventions that are necessary to build skills like communication, coordination, emotional regulation and self-care.


ASAN’s new guide to Medicaid coverage explains the evidence base for promising developmental interventions and provides instruction on how to advocate for coverage for these interventions. It is the first of several upcoming publications about health coverage for developmental interventions. You can read the new guide here.


For more information, contact Samantha Crane, scrane@autisticadvocacy.org.