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Calls to Action

On the Road: Coalition Building in the South

Lorri Unumb, vice president of state government affairs for Autism Speaks, travels the country advocating for families and individuals facing the challenges of autism. This is her first post on the "On The Road For Autism Reform" blog.

There’s a lot to report from the Road to Autism Insurance Reform! In recent weeks, I made a loop of Southern states – closer to home for me -- to meet with families, legislators, lobbyists, and others who are working to pass laws requiring health insurance coverage for autism.

In Raleigh, I enjoyed lunch last week with mom-extraordinaire Tanya Holland, who has a child on the spectrum and who is helping to educate public officials in North Carolina on the need for reform. Later that night, I met with several dozen North Carolina legislators and talked about plans to pass the autism insurance bill as soon as possible in 2014, when the General Assembly next convenes.

In Washington, DC, I spent some time looking for a facility for our upcoming Washington Advocacy Action Summit. Each fall, we gather autism stakeholders to discuss needed policy reforms, and I’m looking forward to our summit this year in mid-November at George Washington University!

I ventured to Nashville for a coalition-building meeting with various autism stakeholders from Tennessee. The gathering included our House champion Rep. Kevin Brooks, the ARC, the Autism Society of Middle Tennessee, Educational Services of America, the Tennessee Disability Coalition, the Tennessee Association of Behavior Analysts, and more. Along with Autism Speaks lobbyist Gregory Gleaves, I also journeyed over to the state house and met with half-dozen legislators, securing several new co-sponsors for the autism reform legislation.

[slideshow:2, order=top, width=640, height=530, img=| http://www.autismspeaks.org/sites/default/files/images/george-washington-university.jpg|||In WashingtonDC with Heather Russell of the George Washington University Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Initiative and Adrian Haro of Civitas Public Affairs ||, img=| http://www.autismspeaks.org/sites/default/files/images/on-the-road-nashville.jpg|||In Nasvhille with Mark Claypool\, Educational Services of America\, Jennifer Sheridan\, Autism Speaks Volunteer Advocacy Chair and Autism Mom Beth Urbancyk\, Tennessee Association of Behavior Analysts Carol Westlake\, Tennessee Disability Coalition ||, img=| http://www.autismspeaks.org/sites/default/files/images/tennessee-disability-coalition.jpg|||Lorri Unumb and Tennessee Rep. Kevin Brooks with members of the autism community||]