On Wednesday Representative Kay Granger of Texas introduced the HR 1707: Helping HANDS for Autism Act of 2009. Essentially, the bill is designed to provide funding for community outreach programs that will assist parents, caregivers, and adults with Autism find the help and support they need in their community. The program is quite extensive, and is quite exciting. Organizations are not limited to the number of grants to which they can apply, though the grants are limited by specific appropriations funding.
The thing that really excites me about this bill, however, is the mentoring aspect for parents and caregivers. I have long been a believer in the involvement of parents in the education of autistic children. They generally can help their child do more advanced things, because their child naturally trusts their parents than, say, a clinical psychologist. The real way to help families with Autism is to provide them with the tools they need, instead of shipping the children off to schools where teachers need to take the place of parents. Schools are great, but without the reinforcing parental involvement, they can only do so much.
There are a lot of other things that this bill supports, and I would highly recommend all those parents, teachers, and caregivers who work with autistic children and adults to read through, and send your recommendations to your US Representatives. Let them know that this is really important, it needs to be done right.
I'm going to pester my representative to get involved as best he can, as well as my Senators. If anyone out there has read the bill and have suggestions, feel free to post them! I'll send them on to my Representative, if you will send it on to yours. Let's make sure this Autism Bill doesn't have the teeth cut out of it, and really helps those on the Spectrum.
And finally, I would like to thank Representative Kay Granger and those who have offered to co-sponsor the bill for their courage in addressing Autism. Just chucking money at the problem doesn't fix it, but having a real plan will definitely be a necessity. This bill has the feeling of a real plan for those on the Spectrum from their initial, early diagnosis throughout their adult life.