VIDEO - Alexa presents her autism awareness message

Autism Delaware will mark Smart Cookie Day April 19 by visiting the General Assembly at Legislative Hall, giving autism advocates the opportunity to share their personal stories with their elected representatives.

They will hand-deliver cookies in gratitude for support, and they will appeal for new legislation advocates say is designed to improve life for those in the autism spectrum.

The organization’s “primary role is to facilitate the families talking to the legislators. The legislators get smart cookies for supporting families with autism,” said Teresa Avery, Autism Delaware executive director.

Three pieces of legislation will be highlighted during the visit.

House Bill 292 provides expanded resources for teachers supporting students with autism. The legislation updates legal language not addressed since the early 1980s. It creates a pilot program that recognizes and begins to fund the need for specialized technical assistance and training staff for teachers in all school districts.

House Bill 104 mandates an increase in the rates paid to providers of services for adults with disabilities. These services were last fully funded in 2005. Since then, pay for direct support professionals has not kept pace, according to Autism Delaware.

“Issues arise around attracting qualified DSPs, and the turnover rate is high,” and the legislation “will raise the rates to more appropriate levels gradually over three years,” said an Autism Delaware news release.

House Bill 12 earmarks funding for basic special education 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,” Autism Delaware wrote in a news release.

If House Bill 12 is enacted, funding for kindergarten through third grade special education will be phased in over four years.

For more information, visit AutismDelaware.org, call Autism Delaware family services director Annalisa Ekbladh at 302-224-6020 or email Annalisa.Ekbladh@delautism.org