To the Editor:
I appreciate Hillary Clinton’s recent vocal support of the autism community and her efforts to raise awareness and make autism a national campaign issue (“Hillary Clinton Unveils Proposals to Support Children With Autism”). My long history in the field makes me skeptical of any meaningful change—politicians have promised change before, but too little has been accomplished. It is far too easy to say what should be done. It is much more difficult to fund and deliver services and supports.
Despite my doubt about whether change will actually occur, I value the awareness Clinton’s plan raises about several issues. She writes about providing much-needed insurance coverage for those within the autism community, which would dramatically help the 33 percent of Americans on self-insured plans that are not required to cover certain autism treatments.
She writes about improving access to housing and increasing employment options for adults. Right now, waiting lists are extensive for housing and residential supports, and only half of young adults with autism have ever worked for pay. Adults with autism deserve a safe place to live and a supportive work environment where they can make a living wage; it’s time we did something for the adults who have aged out of the school system.
Clinton also makes the case for more caregiver support, which we know improves outcomes for families. Offering families respite could decrease the number of children with autism who are placed in full-time residential care—an expensive and difficult reality for many.
Hillary Clinton is on the right track, but if she wants to make a difference, she can’t just talk about the needs of people with autism; she must deliver on the services and supports needed by those living with autism today. There are millions of families counting on our next leader
Vice President of Professional Services
New York, N.Y.
A version of this article appeared in the March 23, 2016 edition of Education Week as Hillary Clinton’s Proposed Autism Plan Supports Children and Caregivers