I saw this over at Little Bug Words and wanted to spread the word on this great resource.
The National Conference of State Legislatures has a database of autism-related legislation recently passed or currently being considered, listed by state, category, and current status. This is a fabulous way of keeping up with what’s going on in your state. If you see something you want to call your state representative or senator about, you have the relevant information you need right here.
Things appear to have been kinda dull in North Carolina on the autism front over the past year, but there’s at least one good reason for this. On even-numbered years – like this one – the General Assembly only meets in ‘short session’, which is just 6 weeks long. That’s it for the whole year unless the governor calls a special session. So a lot gets crammed in and a lot gets tabled until the following year.
But for all you NC people, there’s good news. On odd-numbered years, the General Assembly meets in ‘long session’ starting in January (in 2009, it’s January 28 to be exact), which typically lasts for 6 months. Why they do this, who knows? But long sessions are much more fertile ground to get legislation passed. So get off your butts starting next month and push for something good.
I say that most all autism politics is local because it’s the local services – whether provided by your city, county, or local branches of state offices – that we interact with regularly and who provide the services and assistance we and our kids need.
It’s important to be very active in your local school system as they are the ones who will provide the bulk of the services your child needs until they become adults. We as parents are often the firewall of accountability for the local schools with regard to special ed services. On top of that, the more active we are individually, the better the services our own children will receive.
But sometimes we get so focused on what’s going on right in front of us that we forget the role state government plays in our lives as well. State legislatures can provide or withhold a lot of the funding for the services our children rely on, impact how accessible health care and insurance are for us, and more things than I can count. For us, we live in the state capital so this tends to blur together a lot. It’s important to keep as much of one eye as you can on the big picture.
None of this is to discount the critical role the federal government plays in our lives. Federal legislation such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – just to scratch the surface – are the lifeblood of what protects the rights of our children. And over the next several years, there is fertile ground for expanding these opportunities and protections for our children.
Maybe once and for all out of all this we will be able to afford the health care and therapies our children need without maxing out our credit cards or taking out a second mortgage. But that’s a story for another post someday.