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ACT OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY 2007-2008

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NO. 35.  AN ACT RELATING TO AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS.

(S.121)

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  FINDINGS

The general assembly finds:

(1)  Autism is a lifelong pervasive developmental disorder identified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM‑IV).  The five pervasive developmental disorders are:  autistic disorder; Asperger’s disorder; pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified; Rett’s disorder; and childhood disintegrative disorder.  These lifelong disorders are often referred to collectively as autism spectrum disorders.

(2)  Autism spectrum disorders are neurologically based developmental disorders that can have profound lifelong effects in social interaction, the ability to communicate, imagination, and the establishment of relationships.

(3)  Children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders by psychologists, developmental pediatricians, psychiatrists, and neurologists.

(4)  In 1992, only 13 Vermont children with autism spectrum disorders received special education in Vermont.  According to the preliminary December 1, 2006 child count, 582 children with autism spectrum disorders are currently receiving special education in Vermont.

(5)  There is no single intervention that will be effective for all individuals with autism spectrum disorders or for the same individual across his or her lifespan.

(6)  National Research Council findings suggest that up to 48 percent of young children with autism spectrum disorders make marked progress when they receive intensive early intervention.

Sec. 2.  PROPOSAL FOR AN INTERAGENCY INITIATIVE TO ENHANCE SERVICES FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS

(a)  On or before January 15, 2008, the secretary of human services and the commissioner of education shall develop an interagency proposal for a coordinated, life-long system of care designed to address the needs of Vermonters with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and their families.  The agency of human services shall assume primary responsibility for developing the proposed plan.  The plan shall be:

(1)  Consistent with the Vermont Interagency White Paper on Autism Spectrum Disorders, issued March 2006, and informed by other papers or proposals developed by or for the agency of human services or the department of education. 

(2)  Developed in collaboration with a broad spectrum of stakeholders, including individuals with ASD and their families, professionals with established expertise in ASD, private and public providers of services to individuals with ASD and their families, entities providing support to families of individuals with ASD, and members of the autism task force, the Vermont developmental disabilities council, and the Act 264 advisory board.  Collaboration with individuals with ASD and their families shall reflect diversity in geography, in diagnoses, and in the severity of symptoms.  It shall also ensure consideration of an individual’s needs as a child, as a youth, and as an adult.

(b)  The proposed plan shall include:

(1)  A profile of the range of diagnoses and needs of the children, youth, and adults to be served.

(2)  Projections of the future needs of individuals with ASD in Vermont, including transitional services related to socialization, job training and employment, and independent living in a community-based format to assist individuals moving from school to the community.

(3)  Identification of the specific goals of the proposed plan for a

lifelong system of care for individuals with ASD and their families.

(4)  Development of research-based best practices guidelines to enhance the ability of public and private providers to meet the needs of individuals with ASD and their families.

(5)  A review of the educational and human services-related supports and services currently available to individuals with ASD throughout their lifetime.

(6)  A review of the supports and services currently available to the families of individuals with ASD.

(7)  Identification of the strengths of and deficiencies in the current system of supports and services identified in subdivisions (5) and (6) of this subsection and of the availability of those supports and services in all areas of the state.

(8)  Identification of the additional supports and services needed for an effective lifelong system of care for individuals with ASD and their families and recommendations for how unmet needs might be satisfied. 

(9)  A review of the current role of public schools in connection with the provision of services to individuals with ASD, including:

(A)  The financial impact that the provision of these services has on school budgets.

(B)  Consideration of whether the current allocation of costs between the education system and the agency of human services for the provision of services to individuals with ASD is appropriate and whether any possible reallocation is appropriate, advisable, and consistent with federal law.

(10)  A detailed proposal, with a related timeline, for implementing the proposed lifelong system of care, including:

(A)  The manner in which existing resources and facilities might be used or redirected to support the system.

(B)  The availability of federal and other potential funding sources for the proposed system of care.

(C)  Strategies to encourage collaboration among existing and new resources to provide coordinated, lifelong services, training, technical assistance, information dissemination, and consultation to individuals with ASD and their families, including a centralized, publicly available information system with an information “hotline.”

(D)  Strategies to encourage collaboration among existing and new resources to provide coordinated training, technical assistance, information dissemination, and consultation to schools, local agencies, and other providers of developmental, mental health, and early intervention services to individuals with ASD and their families.

(E)  Strategies for enabling access to the early and accurate diagnosis of ASD.

(F)  Strategies for encouraging collaboration with higher education programs to provide a sufficient number of well‑trained professionals to provide lifelong services to individuals with ASD and their families in all regions of the state.

(G)  Provisions ensuring regular review and revision of the proposed system of care.

(c)  On or before January 15, 2008, the agency and the department shall present a written plan consistent with this section to the governor, the house committees on education, on human services, and on appropriations, and the senate committees on education, on health and welfare, and on appropriations. 

Sec. 3.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect from passage.

Approved:  May 18, 2007



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us