Steinberg Demands Equal Distribution of Autism Services

August 01, 2012

Experts convened to address inequality, provide solutions

(SACRAMENTO) – Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg has established a Taskforce to investigate the distribution of autism services in California’s minority communities, after a Senate Select Committee heard testimony suggesting inequities in the provision of services.

The Senate Select Committee on Autism & Related Disorders, chaired by Senator Steinberg, noted that disparities exist in providing these services to consumers who are disadvantaged, lacking in education, and/or African Americans, Latinos and other ethnic groups.  

In a statement, Senator Steinberg said, “The testimony reveals disturbing details of inadequate services in underserved communities. Autism doesn’t recognize demographic boundaries, so neither should the help that’s available. These inequalities call for immediate scrutiny and urgent corrective actions so I’ve established the Taskforce on Equity & Diversity for Regional Center Autism Services to provide specific recommendations to ensure fair and equal access to autism-related services.”  

At the Senate Select Committee hearing, advocates and other stakeholders stressed that these inequities - while possibly unintended - were chronic in nature, exacerbated by our current fiscal crisis and required immediate attention.  

The Autism Diversity Taskforce will be led by Ms. Areva Martin, renowned autism advocate, author, and Co-Founder of the Special Needs Network and Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, M.D., Ph.D, Founding Director, UC Davis Center for Reducing Health Disparities.  The Taskforce will include a diverse group of advocates, consumers, and multidisciplinary experts from academia, public policy, autism services and regional centers.  

The taskforce will provide recommendations on issues such as the identification and implementation of existing regulations, best practices, and outcome measures to ensure equity and fairness for autism-related regional center services.

Many individuals and families who are overcoming the challenges of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are assisted by state funded regional center services. Senator Steinberg wants to ensure that these supports are provided fairly and equitably to all Californians. For additional information about the Taskforce, including a list of the participants and the specific issues that will be addressed, please click on this link.