From Sen. Kevin Parker's office
This month, state Senator Kevin Parker (D-Park Slope/Flatbush) proposed a legislative package consisting of six bills that will significantly enhance services to individuals affected by autism.
“In honor of National Autism Awareness Month this April, I believe this is the opportune time to pass a comprehensive legislative package that addresses the needs of individuals affected by autism spectrum disorders,” said Senator Parker.
"We commend Senator Parker's leadership in advocating for the vital services and rights of individuals with autism and their families” says Dr. Joshua Weinstein, president of Shema Kolainu – Hear Our Voices School and Center for Children with Autism in Borough Park.
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) are the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States. Most recently, the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network reported that 1 in 88 children had an ASD (based on children who were 8 years old in 2008).
Legislation in this proposed package includes:
- Establishing a registry to help locate individuals with autism, Alzheimer's and dementia in the event they go missing (S.4557/A.3545 -- Parker/Weisenberg);
- Establishing a program of tiered eligibility for services offered by OPWDD for persons with learning disabilities and other complex neurological impairments (S.989 – Parker/Abinanti);
- Allowing therapy dogs used for disabilities such as ASDs to enter public places and public transportation (S.2831 – Parker/Abinanti);
- Defining a bill of rights for persons with autism or autism spectrum disorders (S.481/A.1272 - Kennedy/Gunther);
- Including the definition of autism and ASDs in the Mental Hygiene Law (S.3044/A.1633 - Carlucci/Abinanti);
- Providing for a tax credit for a certain amount of money expended on the care of a qualifying disabled child including children with ASDs (S.2139/A.4409 -- Lanza/Cusick).
"Individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder are among the most vulnerable in our population. It is our responsibility to do all that we can to protect and provide for these persons. The proposed legislation will go a long way in providing the support and services that are needed by these individuals and their caregivers," says Mr. Ray Knights of Elmy's Special Services in Bedford-Stuyvesant.