Advocates for autism gathered in Jefferson City on Wednesday, January 13, 2010 at the Autism Summit to discuss a long list of topics related to treating and living with autism. Much of the day’s conversations focused on legislation currently being considered to provide coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of autism, including behavioral therapies, which are not currently covered by most insurance companies.
Kelly Schultz, Legislative Assistant at the Office of Minority Caucus Secretary Sara Lampe, attended the Summit and offered the following ways to make sure those in favor of the legislation made their voices heard at the State Capitol.
Her suggestions included:
Know your message and stick to it.
- When speaking to state representatives or senators refer to what you want not to the bill’s number. Bill numbers change but your message shouldn’t.
- Know your audience – research those individuals who will have the greatest influence on the bill and prepare to hit upon points that speak to their interests.
- Make the most assertive members of the committee your advocates.
- Pick the issue and NOT the party.
- Do not let the opposition divide and conquer
- Visit your representative and senators in person whenever possible. Walk with them to a meeting if you have to.
Do not compromise too soon.
- Make it difficult not to give you what you want.
- Remember to say “thank you”.
- Make the thank you specific to what the person has done.
- Thank them in person if you can.
- Handwritten thank you notes mean more than electronic notes.
In addition to Schultz’s recommendations, Senator Scott Rupp (R), a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 618 encouraged those at the Summit to “ Create word pictures,” to illustrate their point when contacting their state representatives. One suggestion he gave included using paper doll cut outs to show the number of children in a district that have an autism diagnosis.
Following these tips, anyone who wants to make their voice heard in regard to the Autism Insurance Reform bill, should have the tools necessary to do so. To learn more about the bill visit www.moautismbill.com.