In August 2014, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts enacted landmark legislation Ch. 226 of the Acts of 2014, the “Autism Omnibus Law”. The statute established the Autism Commission as a permanent entity and is comprised of 35 members. The Commission is charged with making recommendations on policies impacting individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), and individuals with Smith-Magenis syndrome. [Read more...]
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder, which can and does impact individuals very differently, and no two individuals are the same. Individuals with ASD present with a wide range of strengths, skills, and challenges. Some may be highly verbal, have extensive vocabularies and also may have a very high IQ, while others may be non-verbal, have significant interfering behaviors and also have an intellectual impairment. ASD is characterized by problems with social communication, unusual behaviors such as fixed interests, being inflexible with changes to schedules and routines, having repetitive physical behaviors (such as hand flapping or rocking), or abnormal responses to sensations (oversensitivity or under-sensitivity to lights, sounds, or touch). Communication challenges include difficulty understanding and responding to social cues and nonverbal communication such as gestures and tone of voice, which can impact making or keeping friends. Although people with ASD may want to make friends, difficulties in understanding social norms or correctly interpreting body language and facial expressions can interfere with developing relationships.
Early Intervention (EI)
Early Intervention in Massachusetts is a statewide, integrated, developmental service available to families of children between birth and three years of age. Children may be eligible for EI if they have developmental difficulties due to identified disabilities, or if typical development is at risk due to certain birth or environmental circumstances.
Once your child has been referred, you and your child have rights which follow you throughout your involvement with Early Intervention. These rights are required under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Early Intervention staff will review these rights with you in your native language unless it is clearly not possible. The EI staff will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Autism Speaks (100 day tool kit)
Health and Human Services
Mass. Act Early
School Aged Youth and Special Education
Special education services are available to eligible students ages 3 up to 22 in Massachusetts who 1) have a disability and 2) as a result of their disability require specially designed instruction or one or more related services (i.e., speech therapy) to access and make progress in the general curriculum. Your child may be referred by Early Intervention or you for special education services. The District will conduct evaluations and convene a “Team meeting” to determine if your child is eligible for special education services. You are entitled to a copy of the District’s evaluations at least 2 days in advance of the Team meeting, but you need to request a copy. If your child is eligible the Team, including you, will meet every year, and the District is required to do a re-evaluation every three (3) years.
In Massachusetts, if your child has autism spectrum disorder the Team is required to address each of the following areas; 1) the verbal and nonverbal communication needs of the child; 2) the need to develop social interaction skills and proficiencies; 3) the skills and proficiencies needed to avoid and respond to bullying, harassment or teasing; 4) the needs resulting from the child's unusual responses to sensory experiences; 5) the needs resulting from resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines; 6) the needs resulting from engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements; 7) the need for any positive behavioral interventions, strategies, and supports to address any behavioral difficulties resulting from autism spectrum disorder; and 8) other needs resulting from the child's disability that impact progress in the general curriculum, including social and emotional development. (G.L. c. 71B, §3)
Federation for Children with Special Needs – A parent guide to special education
Federation for Children with Special Needs – Parent training
For Massachusetts students receiving special education services, Secondary Transition is a time that begins when they turn 14 (or earlier, if the Individual Education Program (IEP) team agrees). From age 14 until they graduate or turn 22, students on IEPs receive transition services from their public school districts. Transition services are defined by federal law (the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA) as a "coordinated set of activities…designed to be within a results oriented process,…to facilitate the student's movement from school to post-school activities." Transition services are based on the individual student's needs, taking into account his/her strengths, preferences, and interests. These services help young adults to live, work, participate in the community, and go on to further education or training as independently as possible when they leave high school.
Autism Speaks 100 Day Tool Kit for Transition
Department of Education
Federation for Children with Special Needs
Massachusetts Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative (MAICEI)
State Agencies with Services Related to Transitioning Students
Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission
Adult services for autism and disabilities focus on resources that impact all facets of adult life including employment, housing, community life and post-secondary education.
Adult Autism Resource Guide file size 1MB
Autism Speaks – Autism Adult Service Guide
Department of Developmental Services
DDS Adult Eligibility Form
The ARC of Massachusetts
Healthcare Coverage for Adults with ASD