The legislative session has begun, and we are now in a sprint to the finish line.

For a year I have been working with Senator Bowie from Legislative District 18 on two bills that will benefit the disability community in Arizona.

SB1633- (https://www.azleg.gov/legtext/55leg/1R/bills/SB1633P.htm) will require that all AzEIP members be screened for autism at 16 months and 30 months of age. Currently, AzEIP practitioners state “it is not in our scope of work to suggest to a parent they seek a medical diagnosis from a developmental pediatrician.” This would change all of that.

Why is this necessary? We know that early diagnosis is the key to successful outcomes for children with autism. Autism diagnosis at early ages (as early as 12 months of age) have found to be reliable and the CDC even recommends autism screenings at 18 months and 24 months of age.

What does this mean practically for parents and for children? Currently if you child is found to have a developmental delay and qualifies for AzEIP the parent can choose which delay they want to focus on and are then given 1 hour of therapy a week to work on it. When a child has a diagnosis of autism they are usually suggested to start intensive therapy (40 hours a week). So, the difference is between a child getting 52 hours of therapy in a year or 2,080! It’s not difficult to guess which will have a greater impact on that child’s outcome.

SB1634- (https://www.azleg.gov/legtext/55leg/1R/bills/SB1634P.htm) will add Down syndrome as a qualifying diagnosis for DDD. Those with Down syndrome currently qualify under cognitive/intellectual but Down syndrome also affects physical life as well, something that is not taken into consideration when parents are forced to qualify under cognitive/intellectual. This barrier puts an undue burden on parents, when a simple genetic report should be sufficient enough to qualify their children for DDD services.

If you would like to help us pass these bills and make them laws you can:

1. Find your legislator (https://www.azleg.gov/findmylegislator/)

2. CALL them

3. Tell them why the bills are important

4. Spread the word! This next two months I will be posting often on Facebook and Instagram. Please share the posts in as many groups as possible.

This is my first-time working bills through the legislature. It is such an honor to be working on behalf of my community and to hopefully make changes that will make your lives, and those that come after us, better.