Autism Bill Authorizes the Creation of an Advisory Council on Autism Spectrum Disorders and the Office of Autism

The passage of a new bill (SB 185) signed into law by Governor Bevin on April 1, 2016 has authorized the creation of an Advisory Council on Autism Spectrum Disorders and the Office of Autism. HDI is helping in that effort by serving as co-chair of the Advisory Council on Autism with the University of Louisville Autism Center, and together we co-house the Kentucky Office of Autism.

The Office of Autism will create a centralized location to coordinate statewide and regional efforts to enhance the quality of life and independence of individuals with an autism spectrum disorder and to support their families and caregivers.

The office will improve coordination of autism resources within the system of care supporting both children and adults with autism and help make those resources available to families and self-advocates.  The office will provide administrative support to the Advisory Council on Autism Spectrum Disorders to unify and promote initiatives aimed at improving Kentucky’s system of care.

The Office of Autism will work to coordinate throughout the cabinet with others that currently provide services and supports to families and individuals coping with behavioral manifestations of autism spectrum disorders. These agencies include the Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities; Department for Medicaid Services; Department for Community Based Services; Department of Public Health; and Family Resource and Youth Service Centers. The Office will also coordinate with other state agencies, such as Kentucky Department for Education.

Amy Cooper-Puckett, who has been selected as the director for the new office, states, “Kentucky has an opportunity to integrate physical and behavioral health services for persons on the Autism Spectrum and it is my privilege to participate in this initiative as the Director for the Office of Autism,” she said.

“We are so pleased that SB 185 was signed by the governor, says Dr. Kathy Sheppard-Jones, Executive Director of the Human Development Institute, ” There is such a dedicated group of self-advocates, families and professionals who want to do good work together, and Office of Autism Director Amy Cooper-Puckett has tremendous skills in building collaborative efforts. The time is now to move forward and impact positive change for Kentuckians on the autism spectrum.”

For more information about the Office of Autism, please contact Amy Cooper-Puckett, LCSW.