A leader in autism advocacy.
Since 1969, MAC has provided advocacy and legal services to vulnerable children who have faced barriers to educational opportunity due to a disability, language barrier, ethnicity, or income level.
MAC’s Autism Center is a pioneering voice in autism advocacy. Launched in 2002, The Autism Center works with elected official and partners to create laws and regulations to ensure that children and young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have access to the services and resources they need in order to reach their full potential.
MAC empowers parents to be a voice for their children, by providing legal services, advocating for children in need, community workshops, and online resources to explain how the laws work.
The Autism Center is led by Julia Landau Esq., Director – nationally noted expert in special education law. Ms. Landau has represented parents of children with disabilities for over 30 years, and is a recognized leader in state policy regarding students with autism spectrum disorder. Read more about her HERE.
Since 2002 – Empowering parents & leaders:
- Over 4,700 parents of children with ASD have received free legal advice, technical assistance and/or representation.
- Over 5,100 parents of children with ASD have been trained to be better advocates for their child.
- Over 3,700 medical professionals and educators working with children on the autism spectrum have been trained to better understand the special education law and the rights of the children they serve.
- Our Young Adult Leaders Fellowship created workplace experience for young adults with autism & training tools for employers.
The Autism Center was instrumental in passing these major bills:
- Expanding Services—The Autism Omnibus Act: This landmark act, passed in 2014, secured important rights and services for children and adults who have autism. The law requires that state Medicaid health insurance covers treatment for children with autism. It expands eligibility for state services for adults with autism, increases training opportunities for teachers, creates a tax-free savings account for individuals with autism and other disabilities and establishes a permanent Autism Commission.
- Accessing Technology—Augmentative and Alternative Communication Act: This act requires that newly licensed special education teachers receive training on how to effectively teach students who use assistive technology because they are nonverbal or have limited speech. We spearheaded a major campaign advocating for this bill, as a result it was passed in 2010.
- Preventing Bullying—An Act Addressing Bullying of Children with Autism: The Autism Center led the campaign to enact legislation to ensure school districts prevent and respond to bullying students with autism and other disabilities. We issued a report which documented the scope of the problem: Targeted, Taunted, Tormented-the Bullying of Children with ASD. In May of 2010, the act was added into the highly-publicized bullying bill signed by the Governor of Massachusetts.
- Creating Paths to College—Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment: This state program partners enables young adults ages 18-22 with severe disabilities to attend college courses and participate in campus life so they can develop independent living and employment skills. We organized coalitions to advocate for this paradigm shifting program.
- Ensuring Future Success—Transition at Age 14 Act passed in August 2008, and requires Massachusetts schools to initiate special education transition planning and services for students at age 14 rather than 16. Transition services ensure that children with autism and other disabilities have a plan for post-secondary education/employment or receive special services once they leave school. The Transition Specialist Endorsement, passed in September 2011, allows educators to get a license in transition planning.
- Addressing Unique Needs—Massachusetts Autism IEP Act, passed in 2006, requires the IEP Team to address the full range of a child’s communication, social, behavioral, and academic needs in order to ensure that schools provide the range of services necessary to address the complex needs of students with autism.
- Increasing Coverage: Children’s Autism Medicaid Waiver: This waiver provides intensive in-home services for children with autism. Each child is eligible for up to $25,000 worth of services a year, while the federal government reimburses Massachusetts for half the cost. In 2005 we led the campaign to launch this program. Since then, we’ve continued to advocate every year for increased funding.
You can find more information about these bills, and what we did HERE.
What we’re working on…
- Implementing and funding major advances in legislation. The process doesn’t stop after passing a bill. We work to ensure laws get implemented effectively and stay funded from year to year. We worked to ensure the state budget for the Autism Omnibus bill included $137 million to cover medically necessary treatment for children with autism through MassHealth. We campaigned to have the Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment program budget upped to $1.2 million this year.
- New Latino advocacy program: We are launching a new initiative, called Proyecto Acceso a la Educación Especial, to provide outreach, training, and case advocacy for Spanish-speaking parents of children with autism.
- New training curriculum: We are developing and implementing a new training curriculum about the new services and rights provided under the Autism Omnibus bill. This includes workshops for parents, medical professionals, and educators.
- Increasing access to services for the underserved: We are advocating for the Independent Evaluation Bill, which will make expert evaluations of children with special needs affordable for low and middle income families.
There are many ways to get involved!