On Thursday, February 26, 2015, the Autism Society and our nationwide network of affiliates will convene in Washington, D.C. for, Day on the Hill – The Autism Society at 50: Understanding Our Past, Celebrating Our Present, Launching Our Future. Each year, we descend on our Nation’s Capital to educate Congress about the issues directly impacting our community and to advocate for legislation to improve the lives of all with autism.

Many of the principle issues we face are ones that we have been dealing with for some time. While we have made incremental progress, we must not neglect those who are living today with autism. For instance, we are proud of the role the Autism Society and our affiliates had with the recent passage of the ABLE Act. This important piece of legislation enables individuals with disabilities to create tax-free accounts to help address private costs incurred for care and support.

While ABLE accounts provide many benefits, we know many will not have an opportunity to participate in the program due to limited resources and inability to set aside funds. That is why we put pressure on Congress to ensure ABLE Act account benefits do not interfere with funding for services and supports vital to individuals living with a disability. Decisions affecting our community are frequently enacted by local and state government entities. Across the country, more must be done to guarantee ABLE Act tax benefits on the state level. We continue to monitor enactment of the bill and the long term effect on funding for services necessary to help people with autism maximize their quality of life.

Furthermore, the Autism Society strongly encourages federal and local officials to ensure people with disabilities are afforded every opportunity to reside in a community of his or her choosing. It is important for each person to have options on where he or she can best advance his or her quality of life; each person living with a disability should have access diverse housing options as those individuals outside of disability community. Our government leaders must enforce housing and employment laws to protect the rights of all people living with a disability.

The Autism Society proudly works in partnership with disability organizations outside of the autism community on many of these efforts. We know our efforts are connected to the greater disability rights movement. As we make advancements in the autism community, so to do our counterparts in the disability field, and society as a whole.