Advocates gather for 2019 Advocacy Forum

June 27, 2019

On June 4-5, 2019, over 100 advocates from across the country joined Autism Speaks in Arlington, Virginia for its inaugural Advocacy Forum. Attendees participated in extensive grassroots training and received education on various autism policy issues. After their training, these volunteer advocates met with members of Congress and their staff regarding the passage of the Autism CARES Act of 2019 (H.R.1058/S.427) and other autism-related policy issues.

Advocates Juan Dipini, Claire Malfaro and Christine Ramsay standing in front of an Autism Speaks banner
Advocates from Pennsylvania, Juan Dipini, Claire Malfaro and Christine Ramsay share #WhyAutismCARES.

During the Advocacy Forum, policy experts presented on topics affecting the autism community, including healthcare and insurance, lifelong supports, transition and the value of research. Congressional staff and experts in the federal legislative process shared key insights on advocacy best practices and how to conduct a congressional meeting. Autism Speaks’ advocacy team led an interactive grassroots training where participants developed skills like composing and delivering elevator pitches and connecting their personal stories to autism-related legislation. Overall, participants improved their knowledge of advocating to increase understanding of autism and pursue policy solutions for individuals across the spectrum and throughout the life span.

Taking the Hill by storm, advocates met with over 55 congressional offices to discuss their connection to the autism community. Additionally, advocates shared the importance of federal funding impacting autism research, services, monitoring and training authorized under the Autism CARES Act.

Advocate Irene Feraro with Congresswoman Susie Lee
Autism Speaks Volunteer Advocacy Ambassador Irene Feraro meets with Congresswoman Susie Lee (D-NV).

Advocates enjoyed this family-friendly day of advocacy, leading to pledges from congressional members to join the Congressional Autism Caucus and to co-sponsor Autism CARES. Since our hill day, more than 33 members of Congress have signed onto Autism CARES. We thank our advocates who attended the 2019 Advocacy Forum and championed for positive autism policies on Capitol Hill!

To take action on Autism CARES, you can use our online email form or participate in our #WhyAutismCARES photo campaign. Additional forum resources are provided below.

Kate Johnson on stage with sisters Mary Grace and Emma reading a speech.
Attendees Mary Grace and Emma Korte practice their advocacy skills with Associate Director of Grassroots Advocacy Kate Johnson


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