Autism Delaware’s annual visit to Legislative Hall in Dover, known as Smart Cookie Day and set for April 19, will offer autism advocates the opportunity to share their personal stories with their elected representatives, hand-deliver cookies in gratitude for past support and appeal for new legislation designed to improve life for Delawareans on the autism spectrum.

During this year’s Smart Cookie Day, three pieces of Delaware legislation will be highlighted: House Bill 292, House Bill 104 and House Bill 12.

HB292 provides an expansion of resources to teachers supporting students with autism. During the Smart Cookie Day activities in the House of Representatives, HB292 will be renamed the Alex Eldreth Autism Education Act, in honor of Autism Delaware’s public policy and community outreach director who died the day after Thanksgiving 2017.

HB104 mandates an increase in the rates paid to providers of services for adults with disabilities. The last time these services were fully funded was 2005. Since then, the pay for direct support professionals has not kept pace. As a result, issues arise around attracting qualified DSPs, and the turnover rate is high. HB104 will raise the rates to more appropriate levels gradually over three years.

HB12 earmarks state funding for basic special education for students in kindergarten through the third grade. Currently, intensive and complex special education is being funded for these grades, but the basic special-education funding runs only from fourth through twelfth grade. By promoting basic special-education needs and earlier identification, costs are predicted to decrease over the long term. If HB12 is enacted, funding for K-3 special education will be phased in gradually over four years.

For more, visit autismdelaware.org, call 224-6020, ext. 218, or email annalisa.ekbladh@delautism.org.