Today, Senators Menendez and Enzi will be introducing legislation extending the Combating Autism Act for three more years. The Combating Autism Act was passed in 2005 without the involvement or consultation of a single Autistic person, let alone the broader self-advocate community. Without legislative action by Congress, the Act would expire on September 30th of this year. While we respect the Senators’ good intentions, the Menendez-Enzi legislation would freeze in place the current flawed CAA programs, which fail to make any provision for services, do not incorporate anything about adults on the autism spectrum and exclude self-advocates. As a result, ASAN opposes any long term re-authorization of CAA without badly needed investments in services and vital program reforms to ensure self-advocates are involved at every level. We’re urging you to call your Senators and tell them to OPPOSE the Menendez-Enzi re-authorization legislation as too long an extension without any of the needed reforms. You can reach them through the Capital Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 by giving your state and asking to be put through to your Senator. Making the call and urging their opposition is important even if you don’t feel comfortable having a longer conversation, but if you want to provide additional reasons to oppose this extension we have provided several below:
- A three year extension of the existing Combating Autism Act means a three year delay before Congress takes any meaningful action on services for Autistic people across the lifespan. It means three years before any new supports for adults on the autism spectrum are introduced and three years before any of the problems with the status quo are fixed. We can’t afford to wait that long.
- CAA’s existing programs enable a severe bias in the autism research agenda against services and adult issues. According to the recently released IACC Research Portfolio, less than one percent of autism research dollars spent in 2009 went to research relating to adults while only three percent went to research about improving services, supports and education! This inequity calls out for change.
- CAA’s existing structure excludes the very people who should be at the center of the autism conversation: Autistic people ourselves. By locking in place for another three years a bill that was passed without the involvement of self-advocates, Congress would be sending a message that the needs and perspectives of Autistic adults don’t matter.
Any long term extension of CAA must involve additional investments in services, greater inclusion of self-advocates in every program and more respectful language shifting from “combating autism” to supporting Autistic people. Call Congress today at (202) 224-3121! Remember to call twice in order to reach both of your Senators. If for accessibility reasons, you need to e-mail your Senators instead you can find their e-mails on the Senate website at this link.
We need your help to remind Congress they can’t ignore the voices of the Autistic community. As always, Nothing About Us, Without Us!
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network