The central piece of Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara’s legislative plan to unlock the potential of thousands of New Yorkers affected by autism has passed the Assembly.
The bill passed by the Assembly today (A.10558-A) calls for the creation of an Autism Spectrum Disorder Advisory Board, which would develop, implement and update a statewide Autism Action Plan, creating a central location for autism services and incorporating new information as it becomes available.
The legislation is part of a comprehensive bill package introduced earlier this year, called Autism Action NY, which would carry out its mission through the creation and administration of service delivery models and the development of resources to support people on the autism spectrum – from childhood to adulthood.
About 1 in 68 children in the United States are living with autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and at some point it will be 1 in 68 adults. Autism Action NY is a five-point plan aimed at increasing job opportunities; providing independent housing options; improving access to information; assisting in communication; and, most importantly, creating a centralized location for services in New York.
“Over the years, we’ve worked together to raise awareness about autism in our communities,” said Santabarbara, whose 14-year-old son, Michael, was diagnosed with autism at age 3. “This year, we joined together at the first Autism Action Day at our State Capitol to call for action, and with the passage of this bill, we are doing just that. We are now one step closer to making Autism Action NY a reality for those affected by autism, and I’ll continue to be a voice for our family members, neighbors and friends with developmental disabilities.”
Leaders and advocates in the autism community locally and across the state have voiced their support for Autism Action NY. On April 13, Assemblyman Santabarbara hosted the first-ever Autism Action Day at the State Capitol, bringing together self-advocates from around the state, representatives from Schenectady and Montgomery counties such as Schenectady ARC and Liberty ARC and the Autism Society of the Greater Capital Region, and statewide groups like the New York State Association of Community & Residential Agencies (NYSACRA) and New York State Industries for the Disabled (NYSID).
"Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability in the country, and there is a crisis for support services that needs immediate attention," Santabarbara said. "This is a critical first step in bringing solutions to the obstacles our families affected by autism are facing and an important step in the right direction.”
"I’ll continue to be a voice in Albany for my son Michael and all those affected by developmental disabilities,” he added. “We must do everything we can to give people with autism the support and interventions required to ensure they live a full and productive life."