Your Voice Counts–Democracy is Not a Spectator Sport!

June 05, 2019

SafeMinds Shares Vol. 1 Issue 1
Your Voice Counts–Democracy is Not a Spectator Sport!
By:  SafeMinds Executive Director Lisa Wiederlight, M.P.P.

This is the first installment of a group of blogs on SafeMinds’ activities. We hope you’ll look forward to reading them and taking some action. As many people know, we’ve been on Capitol Hill to advocate for important amendments to the proposed Autism CARES Act of 2019. These changes will increase the effectiveness, responsiveness, and accountability of the Federal response to the autism crisis.

After many meetings with congressional staffers, subject matter experts, and other community stakeholders, SafeMinds is recommending three amendments to the Act. They are:

  1. Placement of a full-time Federal Autism Coordinator in the agency-neutral Executive Office of the President to serve as the Federal government’s “point person on autism.” The Federal Autism Coordinator should be experienced in facilitating interagency coordination and collaboration, eliminating bureaucratic obstacles, and leveraging existing resources.
  2. Creation of an annual National Autism Strategy, which would include clearly-stated policy priorities, and measurable goals, objectives, and outcomes. There are similar types of national strategies for Alzheimer’s disease, and for HIV/AIDS, and the size and scope of the autism crisis demands the same level of Federal focus and attention. The Federal Autism Coordinator will be responsible for presenting the National Autism Strategy to Congress, the President, and to the American taxpayers.
  3. Increased funding for autism research that is focused on supporting policy and programmatic priorities. Federally-funded research should result in findings that can be used by clinicians and other practitioners to help people with autism both today and in the future.

You can help to make these changes happen! Sending an email to congressional staffers for your particular jurisdiction takes less than five minutes. It doesn’t take as many messages as you may think to bring attention to an issue, so your email can really make a difference.

Please take the following steps to contact your Federal elected officials right after you read this. Getting the word out this week is critical! You may be thinking that your one message can’t possibly make a difference. But what if your message is the one that does?

Here we go:

1)  Go http://www.senate.gov and http://www.house.gov to get the links to the email comment forms for each of your Federal elected officials.

2)  Click on the links to the email comment forms for your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative, and leave your message. If you want to share information about your particular story and/or autism connection, feel free.

3)  Consider using this messaging for your email: “I am writing to respectfully request that you please support amending the proposed Autism CARES Act of 2019 (S.427 and H.R. 1058) language so that it includes placement of a full-time Federal Autism Coordinator in the agency-neutral Executive Office of the President; a National Autism Strategy; and more research funding so that we can increase the effectiveness, accountability, and responsiveness of the Federal response to the autism crisis. We need a ‘point person on autism,’ measurable goals, objectives, and outcomes, and to find the causes of and treatments for autism that will help people with autism today and in the future. Please help us to make the changes that our autism community really needs. Thank you very much for considering my request.”

4)  Hit send! That’s all we need to do to let our Federal representatives know what we want, and to hopefully get what we need.

If you have any questions, email us at info@safeminds.org. If you want to spread the word, pass on this issue of SafeMinds Shares to your friends, family, and colleagues! Democracy is not a spectator sport, so join us–step onto the court and take your place on the team if you haven’t already!

Interested in getting more involved? Please email info@safeminds.org and we will be able to discuss opportunities to join our committees and board. We’re always looking for more team members!

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