You Have Been Heard! …Now what?

Wow! Thank you everyone that took the time to contact the members of the Joint Study Committee for Autism and Public Safety. They have heard you loud and clear. At this time, we need to hold off the calls and emails to the committee members until the up coming session. If you ask me, that is when the real fight will begin.

Still, this brings up an important topic. Which is how to most effectively communicate with our State Legislators and Congresspeople.

Over the last year we have seen many examples of angry voters gathering in protest and there is definitely a place for that. But like the coach or manager who relies on nothing but yelling expletives and threatening to fire everyone, we run the risk of being tuned out and then nothing we say will be heard. At the same time we may end up alienating the very people who can help us the most.

Like the old saying, “You attract more flies with honey”, we can make a far more dramatic impact if we reach out to our legislators and appeal to their human side. As I have mentioned before, I work as a salesperson. Continued access to customers is how I feed my family. It is equally important here. Autism insurance reform will not be the end our legislative needs. Issues that span our lives and our childrens’

lives must be addressed and soon. Urgent needs for restoring funding for CAP and other services, for residential services, for a ban on corporal punishment and unsafe restraint and seclusion in schools are just a few of the issues that we will need help from our elected officials in the near future.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when we are speaking or meeting with a state legislator member of Congress.

1. Take a friendly professional tone. This could open an on-going dialog with this person or their staff. I can’t emphasize how valuable it is to leave that door open to our cause in the future.

2. Tell them you are a constituent. Yes. Politicians are interested in keeping their job. They want to be sure that they are taking the time to speak with and help people that can eventually vote for them.

3. Be ready. It is not unheard of to only get a few minutes. By having a good idea of what you want to say ahead of time will ensure that you will get your point across. You don’t need to be an expert on the legislation, just explain your personal situation and how the bill will help you.

4. Be sure to thank them for their time. This may seem like it goes without saying, but as I said they are generally very busy and a kind word can’t hurt.

Thank you to everyone who called your legislator. With your help, we will join the other 20+ states that have made autism insurance reform the law of the land.

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