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Introduced by Representatives Barnard of Richmond, Donovan of Burlington, Mook of Bennington, Larson of Burlington, Browning of Arlington, Chen of Mendon, Clarkson of Woodstock, Copeland-Hanzas of Bradford, Courcelle of Rutland City, Edwards of Brattleboro, Evans of Essex, Hosford of Waitsfield, Jerman of Essex, LaVoie of Swanton, Lenes of Shelburne, Leriche of Hardwick, Miller of Shaftsbury, Mrowicki of Putney, Nuovo of Middlebury, Peltz of Woodbury, Shand of Weathersfield, Smith of Morristown and Trombley of Grand Isle

Referred to Committee on


Subject:  Education; autism spectrum disorders; regional autism centers

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to develop and implement regional autism centers to provide life-long services to children and adults with autism spectrum disorders.


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


(a)  Autism is a neurologically based developmental disorder that can have profound life-long effects in social interactions, in the ability to communicate ideas and feelings, in imagination, and in the establishment of relationships.

(b)  The number of Vermont students diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) has been increasing at an average annual rate of 20 percent for the last eight years.

(c)  In 1992, 13 children identified with ASD received special education services in Vermont schools; in 2005, 540 students, ages 3–22, were identified with ASD.  If this number continues to increase at an annual rate of 20 percent, the number of children identified with ASD will exceed 1,300 within five years.

(d)  The agency of human services and department of education estimate that the cost of special education services for students with ASD will increase from about $11 million in 2005 to more than $30 million in 2010.

(e)  Parents, schools, and human service agencies are all challenged by the needs of youth and adults with ASD.

(f)  The availability of effective programs and services across the state is inconsistent. 

Sec. 2.  16 V.S.A. § 2945a is added to read:


The agency of human services and the department of education shall develop and implement a program providing regional autism centers throughout Vermont to provide life-long services for children and adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).  The program shall:

(1)  Develop a centralized, publicly available information system regarding evidence-based diagnostics, prognosis, option for treatment and education, available resources, parent support programs, and community activity programs. 

(2)  Provide or coordinate with other entities to provide for school-aged children:   individualized supports and services for students and families; systematic evidence-based instructional programs; comprehensive structured learning environments; specific curriculum content; functional approaches to behavioral issues; and community and parent involvement.

(3)  Provide transitional services related to socialization, job training and employment, and independent living in a community-based format to assist individuals to move from school to community.

(4)  Provide community-based services, including residential options and appropriate medical supports. 

(5)  Ensure coordination and collaboration among educational and social service agencies and independent providers. 

(6)  Provide or coordinate the training necessary to ensure a sufficient number of well-trained and experienced staff for schools, health service entities, and social and housing agencies.  

(7)  Identify revenue sources to support the necessary programs and physical facilities.

(8)  Establish a process to develop an independent board of trustees for each center to be incorporated as a nonprofit agency working in partnership with the state.


On or before January 15, 2008, the agency of human services and the department of education shall file a written report with the house committees on education and on human services and the senate committees on education and on health and welfare outlining the details of the plan required in Sec. 2 of this act.  The report shall include an implementation schedule. 


The sum of $90,000.00 in fiscal year 2008 general fund dollars is appropriated to the secretary of human services and the commissioner of education to carry out the requirements of this act.

Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont