Autism Speaks Provides Urgent Feedback on Federal Coronavirus Bill (S.3548)

March 21, 2020

Educational accommodations and protections for individuals with disabilities, including many students on the autism spectrum, have been hard-fought and won to ensure that all of us can reach our full potential. S.3548, the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act,” would require the Secretary of Education to prepare a report, within 30 days, recommending waivers (temporary exemptions) the Secretary believes necessary under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 “to provide limited flexibility to states and local educational agencies to meet the unique needs of students with disabilities.”

Autism Speaks opposes this provision because we are concerned that it could erode existing protections for autistic students. Furthermore, the bill provides no mechanism for supporting autistic students and their families now, when they need help the most. In this time of great uncertainty for our community, we urge Congress to authorize additional funding to support families and children who are impacted by school closures. We also urge that the package address the needs of families and adults with autism who are home-bound due to the crisis, by including additional funding for home and community-based services for people with disabilities. Autism Speaks has communicated these concerns to key leaders on Capitol Hill, and we will continue to closely monitor developments as the legislation is being considered in a very fast-moving environment.

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