Legislative Advocacy

Since our inception, AANE has committed to advocate for appropriate, quality services for people with Asperger profiles and to lobby for funding at the local, state, and national levels. We advocate for services for individuals of all ages and focus on supporting a vast range of currently unsupported needs.

Commitment to Advocacy

AANE staff have been active members of the Autism Commission in Massachusetts since its inception. This allows us to have a voice in the policies of statewide autism services. In order to broaden our impact in advocating for needed services, AANE partnered with Mass Advocates for Children (MAC) and the Disability Learning Center (DLC) in their efforts to improve services in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. AANE continues to consult and partner with Massachusetts state agencies (DDS, DMH) to advocate for services for families and adults on the autism spectrum (ASD).

Current Areas of Advocacy Focus

  • DSM-5 changes and impact on diagnosis and service provision.
  • Comprehensive mental health services for individuals with Asperger profiles or ASD.

Previous Legislative Successes

The AANE staff and community worked very hard to ensure that the Massachusetts Autism Omnibus Bill was passed. AANE has also contributed to other legislation, such as the Anti-Bullying Act and a bill which requires which requires the IEP Team to consider and specifically address the full range of a child’s complex communication, social, behavioral, and academic needs resulting from ASD to help ensure provision of state-of-the-art supports and services. ( Mass laws 71B section 3 paragraph 6))

Massachusetts Autism Omnibus Bill

On August 6, 2014, the Governor signed the Autism Omnibus Bill into law as Ch. 226 of the Acts of 2016. Provisions of An Act Relative to Safe and Supportive Schools were also signed into law.

The Autism Omnibus Bill expanded the eligibility criteria of the Department of Developmental Services for those with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and brought about many other positive changes for our community.

This bill reflects the state legislature's commitment to addressing the needs of the growing number of people with ASD in the Commonwealth. The Massachusetts Autism Commission (MAC) and other stakeholders dedicated an enormous amount of time and energy to advocating for the passage of this bill. Congratulations to all!

The Autism Omnibus Bill includes the following key provisions:

  • A requirement that MassHealth cover medically necessary treatments for children with ASD who are under 21 years old – including ABA therapies as well as dedicated and non-dedicated AAC devices;
  • Extension of Department of Developmental Services (DDS) eligibility to many persons with Autism, Prader Willi Syndrome and Smith-Magenis Syndrome;
  • The creation of an Autism Endorsement for special education teachers to enable them to voluntarily gain in-depth knowledge about the complexities of educating students with ASD;
  • The creation of tax-free savings accounts (called "Achieving a Better Life Experience," or ABLE) to help families cover anticipated disability-related expenses for individuals with ASD and other physical and developmental disabilities;
  • A requirement that DMH and DDS develop and implement a plan to provide services to individuals who have both a mental illness and a developmental disability; and
  • Establishment of the Autism Commission as a permanent entity.

Read the bill: The Autism Omnibus Bill