Three ABLE Act Amendments Introduced

Building upon the ABLE Act of 2014, three amendments were introduced in the House and Senate in March 2016, and referred to the appropriate committees of jurisdiction. Unfortunately, they have not seen any legislative progress since that time. With time running out for Congress to act this year, we can’t be complacent — we must educate ourselves and others on their significance. Here is a brief summary of each:

  • The ABLE Age Adjustment Act would raise the age limit for eligibility to before age 46.
  • The ABLE Financial Planning Act would allow tax-free rollovers between a 529 college savings account and an ABLE account.
  • The ABLE to Work Act would allow individuals to exceed the annual contribution limit and save more money in an ABLE account if the individual earns income.

For more information, see The Arc’s fact sheet, and stay informed by signing up for the Disability Advocacy Network.

Competency To Stand Trial: A Dilemma for Criminal Justice Professionals and Advocates

For individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, there are complexities that impede fairness within the criminal justice system. One complexity is competency to stand trial.  Competency measures a defendant’s ability to understand the case against him and assist in his defense. If he is found incompetent, his criminal case cannot be continued until his competency is restored in an in-patient or outpatient restoration program. While actual statistics are scarce, research indicates that many people with disabilities, including autism, do not receive the services they need to be found competent. Instead, they linger in correctional institutions or hospitals for too long, depriving them of their right to a speedy trial. To learn more about criminal competency for individuals with, view The Arc’s National Center on Criminal Justice & Disability’s® latest webinar, “Competency of Individuals with I/DD in the Criminal Justice System: A Call to Action for the Criminal Justice Community.”

First ABLE Programs Launched 

Since the passage of the federal Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act in 2014, over 90% of states have enacted enabling legislation, federal agencies have been drafting regulations and issuing guidance, and three new bills have been introduced at the federal level. And, just this month, two states launched the first ABLE programs in the U.S., with more expected in the coming months.

Needless to say, these are exciting times for the financial futures of people with autism, as well as other intellectual and developmental disabilities. To bring you up to speed, The Arc has published a blog outlining those developments, along with a chart detailing states’ progress toward implementation. You can read more about these events here.

Life, Animated: Autism Documentary in Theaters July 1

LIFE, ANIMATED is the story of Owen Suskind, a young man who was unable to speak as a child until he and his family discovered a unique way to communicate by immersing themselves in the world of classic Disney animated films. The film follows Owen as he enters adulthood and takes his first steps toward independence.

The subject of his father Ron Suskind’s New York Times bestseller, Owen was a thriving three-year-old who suddenly and inexplicably went silent – and for years after, remained unable to connect with other people or convey his thoughts, feelings, or desires. Over time, through repeated viewings of Disney classics likeThe Little Mermaid and The Lion King, Owen found useful tools to help him to understand complex social cues and to reconnect with the world around him. Watch the trailer, find a theater near you showing the film, and check out The Arc’s conversation guide to spark dialogue about the film’s topics.

Call for Comments

Request for Public Comments – 2016 IACC Strategic Plan

Deadline: July 29, 2016

The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) wants your input to help identify priority topics for inclusion in the 2016 IACC Strategic Plan for ASD. The new plan will cover research, services and policy issues related to the 7 Questions covered in the IACC Strategic Plan. Click here to submit your comments. The comment period will be open from June 15, 2016 – July 29, 2016. Feel free to share this opportunity with others. The IACC looks forward to hearing from individuals on the autism spectrum, family members, providers, researchers, advocates, and other members of the autism community.