End the Waiting Lists for ID/DD Waivers

Despite the good news regarding VA's settlement with the Department of Justice regarding the closure of state institutions, mush advocacy stills remains. If the General Assembly only funds the Medicaid Waiver slots in the agreement, VA will have a waiting list of over 10,000 people in 10 years!! Ask your delegate and senator to help END THE WAIT by supporting funding for 1,500 new Intellectual Disability (ID) Waivers and 275 new Developmental Disability (DD) Waivers in the state budget; not sure who your delegate and senator is? You can find out here: http://conview.state.va.us/whosmy.nsf/main?openform Every voice counts; contact your delegate and senator today to let them know the impact the waiting list has on your family!

The Virginia General Assembly and Autism

The Virginia General Assembly began its 2012 session in early January and meets for 60 days this year. We have highlighted legislation impacting the autism community.

We urge you to contact your senator and delegate to let them know how this legislation impacts your family. To find out who your delegate or senator is, go here: http://conview.state.va.us/whosmy.nsf/main?openform

Autism Insurance This is legislation to promulgate emergency licensure regulations for BCBAs to provide ABA. This is a technical fix to the 2011 legislation man- dating insurance companies to cover the treatment of autism for children 2 through 6 years of age. As this newsletter went to press, House Bill 1106 had passed but had not yet been addressed in the Senate.

ID and DD Waiver Slots More than 7,000 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are on waiting lists for community-based services. There are no new waivers for individuals/families on the ID/DD Waiver waiting lists in the Governor's introduced budget which means no help for individuals/families through July 1, 2014.

Proposed budget amendments in the House and Senate would add new ID Waivers and new DD Waivers to the state budget to help the individuals and families who are on waiting lists for community-based services.

Teacher Licensure/ Paraprofessional Training House Bill 325 requires every person seeking initial licensure or renewal of a license with an endorsement in special edu- cation and working with students with autism spectrum disorders must demonstrate proficiency in student behav- ior management and requires school divisions to provide 40 hours of training in student behavior management to any aide assigned to work with a teacher with primary responsibility for students with autism spectrum disor- ders and 12 hours of training for other personnel with other oversight responsibility for students with autism spectrum disorders.

The 2011 legislative session for the Virginia General Assembly began on January 12. The Autism Society, Central VA will periodically send out action alerts for issues that may be of interest to individuals with autism and their families. When you receive an action alert, it is important to respond promptly as legislation moves quickly through the General Assembly.

It is essential that families contact their legislators about legislation that is of concern to you and your family. Legislators want to hear from their constituents. Tell them your story and what impact their decision will have on your family or loved one. You can find out who your legislators are and their contact information here: http://conview.state.va.us/whosmy.nsf/main?openform

We encourage families to join us in the following opportunities to advocate for the needs of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders on Jan. 13 and Jan. 17.


Senator Howell has introduced a bill  for autism insurance reform requiring private insurance companies to cover the medical treatment of autism, including ABA.

Action Needed: Thursday, Jan. 13 the VA Autism Project (VAP) invites family members and other concerned citizens to join them at the General Assembly from 9 a.m. to noon to visit your legislators.

1. Come to Richmond this Thursday! VAP will be meeting in the East Conference Room on the Third Floor of the General Assembly Building at 9:00 am. You can find directions and parking information HERE. We will meet at 9:00 am and hear from Senator Howell and will also have an opportunity for
questions about the bill. You will be given talking-points and someone will go with you to your appointment if you don't want to go alone.

2. Make two appointments TODAY! Before coming on Thursday, please make two appointments: one with your Virginia State Senator and one with your Virginia Delegate. You can find out who your legislators are and their contact information here: http://conview.state.va.us/whosmy.nsf/main?openform When you call, tell them that you are a constituent and you would like to meet with them to discuss autism insurance reform. (Plan on meeting them on Thursday sometime 10:00 am or after if possible.)


There are over 6,000 people in VA on waiting lists for home and community based Medicaid Waivers. Potential cuts to Medicaid Waiver services also exist. Advocates will push for budget amendments to address the long waiting lists and potential cuts to services.

Action Needed: Monday, Jan. 17 the Coalition for Virginians with Mental Disabilities invites families and other concerned citizens to join them for a Rally at the Bell Tower followed by visits with your legislators. (see attachments)

1. Contact your legislator by letter or by email to let him or her know you will be in Richmond on January 17th and would appreciate the opportunity to meet with either the legislator or the legislative aide. You can find out who your legislators are and their contact information here:http://conview.state.va.us/whosmy.nsf/main?openformLet them know that you are especially interested in funding for Medicaid Waivers. Include a few words about why this is of interest to you. Invite your legislator to join you at the Rally between 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. at the Bell Tower on Capitol Square.

2. Ask for an appointment to visit your legislators after the Rally is over (after 10 a.m.). Plan and rehearse what you will say to your legislators or to their aides when you visit them. You may want to put your remarks in writing to leave with them.


As we go to press, the annual budget hearings at the Virginia General Assembly are scheduled to take place beginning at 12 noon on January 11 at the General Assembly Building, House Room D. Members of the public are invited to participate by submitting public comment. We will provide further details through the affiliate e-mail update.

June 8, 2009 - Public Briefing JLARC Commission on the Study of Autism Services in Virginia

On June 8 the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee (JLARC) will present a report and findings on their study of autism services in Virginia to identify and evaluate best practices in the provision of services for the diagnosis, treatment, and management of autism; methods of providing services to persons with autism; ways to disseminate information regarding best practices; and provide autism education and training for law enforcement and judicial personnel.

Opportunities were provided to stakeholders, including educators, family members, and individuals on the spectrum across the state, to provide input to this study in the fall of 2008 during public comment sessions and during the winter of 2009 by way of online surveys. The Autism Society, Central VA Affiliate made our membership aware of these opportunities through the newsletter and e-mail alerts. Many affiliate members submitted comment regarding the needs of their family member with autism; several adults who attend our Adults with Asperger's Interest Group submitted comment as well. The Board of the Autism Society also submitted comment during the public hearings in addition to submitting written comment on behalf of our membership. The June 8 meeting will take place from 10 a.m. to noon in Richmond at the General Assembly Building in Senate Room A. It is open to the public; we encourage you to attend if you are able.

March 2009 - General Assembly Update

As the newsletter goes to press, the fate of some legislation is still undecided. We can report to you on the following bills of interest to the autism community that failed:

  • HB 1602 Local School Divisions; behavior analyst certification
  • HB 1985 and SB 956 Autism Tuition Assistance Grant Program
  • HB 2104 Students with Disabilities Tuition Assistance Grant Program
  • HB 1588 and SB 1260 Health Insurance: mandated coverage for autism spectrum disorder.

With the failure of the health insurance mandate, it is all the more important that our efforts continue. We were a strong presence and a loud voice this year… next year we must be stronger and louder. Autism has the attention of the General Assembly and we must build on the efforts we put forth this year and show our legislators that we are determined to bring the needed supports to individuals with autism in Virginia.

The day after the Senate version of the autism insurance bill died, a reporter contacted Pat DiBari, a parent and grassroots leader from Northern Virginia, for his reaction. Rather than giving a response to the failure of the bills in the 2009 session, Mr. DiBari instead told a reporter that the efforts to pass an autism insurance mandate in 2010 had started that day. That is the kind of attitude that will make a bill for autism insurance a reality! Mr. DiBari then went on to highlight the many things that advocates for autism insurance had achieved this session, one of which was that advocates for autism united from across the state of Virginia to work together. The grassroots group behind the bills for autism insurance involved folks from Northern Virginia, the Tidewater area, Southwest Virginia and Central Virginia. It was a statewide effort and unlike anything the legislators had ever seen before. Your voice does make a difference! Although the failure of the bills listed above were heartbreaking and disappointing to our community, I would like to take a moment to thank all of you for your efforts this session. The General Assembly was flooded with phone calls, emails and letters from autism advocates. Folks took time off of work and juggled childcare to visit with legislators, attend rallies and sit patiently through committee meetings that were delayed for hours. Our voice was loud and our presence was prominent.

On Monday, February 9, the Autism Society of America, Central Virginia Affiliate was recognized in the gallery of the Senate by Senator Martin and welcomed by Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling. Our affiliate was thanked for our efforts to raise awareness of the needs of the autism community and our efforts to educate the legislators. Five members of the affiliate, proudly wearing red, rose for the “warm welcome” from the Senators.

But a lesson that we have learned this session is that our legislators must hear our voices all year long, not just during the General Assembly session. The ASACV must reach out to our area delegates and senators to continue to educate them and keep them aware of the needs of the autism community. As this is an election year for the Delegates in the House, the ASACV hopes to send questions to the candidates so that they may respond with their positions on issues of importance to the autism community. In the future, we will ask for members who are willing to help us achieve these goals. We hope you will consider being a part of these important initiatives.