Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Come Together

On Saturday I went directly from Project Action!’s monthly meeting to the DC Autism Society's annual luncheon.  Attending these events back-to-back impressed on me how important it is for local groups to make common cause on key issues affecting people with developmental disabilities in D.C.  Here are two whose time has come:

-          At the D.C. Autism Society (DCASA) meeting a couple of weeks ago, a major topic of conversation was the intersection of race and disability in interactions with the police.  Then I went to Project Action! on Saturday and learned that several people had recently attended a workshop sponsored by the Washington Peace Center ( on the same issue.  The Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN), a national group with D.C. roots, also has a particular interest in this issue.  So it seems to me it’s time for members of these groups to put their heads together and develop an action plan for advocacy and outreach with the MPD.  I mentioned this to folks at both the Project Action! meeting and the DCASA luncheon, and I hope someone will pick up on it.  I’m happy to connect the right people to get this discussion going if that will help.

-           At Saturday’s Project Action! meeting, DDS acting director Andy Reese talked about weekly meetings taking place to consider amendments to the DDA-administered Medicaid waiver.  I asked him whether expanding waiver services to people with autism and other developmental disabilities who do not meet the IQ threshold was also on the table.  He said it can be part of this ongoing discussion.  Access to Medicaid waiver services is critically important for those who require supports, and it’s time for eligibility to be broadened.  The last effort foundered almost six years ago, and that’s six years too many.  I’d like to see Project Action!, DCASA and others concerned with bringing greater justice for those with disabilities in our city to partner in support of eligibility expansion.  Now’s the time, and if it needs legislation, then let’s advocate for that too.  Let’s help the DDS director-to-be make his mark on disability services in D.C. as his predecessor Laura Nuss did.

The political environment is ripe for us to make a difference on these issues.  Let’s come together and do it.  

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