Disabilities

As a mother of a child on the autism spectrum, Barbara has been a strong advocate for the disabled.  She works with members of both parties to address issues relating to disability and craft legislation to help the disabled.

She founded and co-chaired the bipartisan Special Education Caucus in the legislature to take a closer look at the needs of disabled individuals in special education and ways to keep costs down.

She has lectured at the Boston Foundation regarding strategies to better manage and plan long-term budgeting of Human Services.

She works with parents, experts, and legislators of both parties as Chair of the Autism Commission, which began in 2010. The commission has gathered state agencies, providers and families to draft a ten-year plan to better coordinate services and may be a model for all human services provision.

Bills Passed in 2009-2010

Augmentative and Alternative Communications (Chapter 299 of the Acts of 2010)

  • Helps reduce costs for school districts by facilitating inclusion and supporting placement of children with disabilities who are nonverbal or who have limited speech in the least restrictive environment
  • Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) includes methods of communication other than oral speech, such as pictorial language boards, manual communication systems, speech synthesizers or other electronic communication devices, that enhance or replace conventional forms of expressive and receptive communication
  • Ensures that all special education teachers receive experience in methods of AAC to facilitate interaction of students who are nonverbal or have limited speech, to ensure access to the general education curriculum, and to facilitate inclusion

Eliminating the Word Retardation from General Laws (Chapter 239 of the Acts of 2010)

  • Eliminates the word retardation from the General Laws and replaces it with intellectual disability

Autism Health Insurance (Chapter 207 of the Acts of 2010, Sponsored by Representative L’Italien)

  • Requires insurance companies to provide coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders (ASD)
  • Includes care prescribed, provided or ordered for an individual diagnosed with ASD by a licensed physician or psychologist who deems them medically necessary
  • Include habilitative or rehabilitative care, including Applied Behavior Analysis supervised by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, Pharmacy care; Psychiatric care; Psychological care; Therapeutic care

Autism Bullying (Chapter 92 of the Acts of 2010, Sponsored by Representative L’Italien)

  • Amends the Autism IEP Act to clarify that IEP Teams must address bullying of children with autism
  • Requires teaching, supports, and services to develop strategies to help deal with bullying
  • Autism Commission (Chapter 2 of the Resolves of 2010)*
  • Establishes a commission to study the effects of all persons with autism
  • Commission would investigate the range of services and support systems needed for an individual to achieve their highest potential
  • Not limited to age
  • Strives to analyze needs of those who are aged out of the early intervention community, including: investigating issues related to public education, job attainment and employment, including supported employment, provision of adult human services, post-secondary education, independent living, community participation, housing, social and recreational opportunities, behavioral services based on best practices to ensure emotional well-being, mental health services and issues related to access for families of children with autism spectrum disorder and adults who are from linguistically and culturally diverse communities
  • Shall address mechanisms to ensure maximization of federal reimbursement and coordination of state human service agencies

Disability History Month (Chapter 71 of the Acts of 2009, Sponsored by Representative L’Italien)

  • Establishes October as Disability History Month
  • Raises awareness throughout the public educational system

Autism IEP (Chapter 57 of the Acts of 2006, Sponsored by Representative L’Italien)

  • Ensures that IEP Teams for children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder consider and address the complex communication, behavioral, social, emotional, sensory, and other academic needs that are know to be associated with autism
  • Specifically requires IEP Teams to consider the following areas for children with ASD:
    • Verbal and non-verbal communication needs;
    • The need to develop social interaction skills and proficiencies;
    • Unusual responses to sensory experiences;
    • The needs resulting from the child’s resistance to environmental and routine changes;
    • The needs resulting from the child’s engagement in repetitive activities and stereotypical movements;
    • The need for behavioral interventions, strategies, and supports; and
    • Other needs that result from ASD that impact the child’s progress in the regular education curriculum

Autism Medicaid Waiver (Chapter 107 of the Acts of 2005, Sponsored by Representative L’Italien)

  • Directs the Commonwealth to apply for a Medicaid waiver to maximize federal reimbursement for critical services, including intensive in-home intervention services, determined essential to support children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in their homes and communities
  • With the Medicaid waiver, the Commonwealth can receive federal reimbursement for 50% of the cost of services which support children with autism in their home and communities