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The community of individuals in Virginia with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is growing at an unprecedented rate. Generally, there are a variety of public and private educational options for children with ASD from early childhood to legal adulthood. However, young adults with ASD are quick to find an unforgiving world, and two-thirds of young adults with ASD find themselves unemployed or unenrolled in higher education in the years following high school. Furthermore, the vast majority of jobs that young people with ASD have are part-time, low-wage jobs. College-educated individuals with ASD have an extraordinarily difficult time finding jobs in their fields of expertise. Virginia needs to support this community and help its citizens get gainful employment in society. Instituting a tax credit for businesses that choose to hire employees with ASD will push more businesses in that direction and create a welcoming business environment for employees with ASD.
This campaign seeks passage of legislation that incentivizes the hiring of individuals with ASD by developing a tax credit for employers who hire individuals with ASD for jobs that reflect their abilities. This credit will work in tandem with existing vocational rehabilitation support programs, general federal tax incentives, commercial development programs, and businesses across the state to create positive incentives to increase demand and resources for potential workers with ASD.
Currently, the federal government provides the largest general disability tax credit as part of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit. This credit has been largely successful and more than 2 million people are now employed each year with the help of the nationwide credit. However, the autism community has been lost in the broad scope of the credit. It’s time for a specialized approach to this acute problem. Virginia has the potential to become the nationwide leader for autism employment as record-breaking numbers of young adults with ASDs reach working age each year.
We are building towards a better Commonwealth, where Virginians with ASD get the support they need - from birth onwards - to participate and flourish in society.
Employing adults with ASD is just the first step in overhauling the public services system in Virginia to better adjust to the frequently changing and expanding field of autism support. Once we get current Virginians working, we have several other goals:
- Goal 1: Revamp the Developmental Disability (DD) Waiver System
- Almost 13,000 Virginians are on a waiting list for this critical support for long-term care and quality of life enhancements. We will fight to expand the waiver to those on the waiting list immediately, and reform the system so future Virginians won’t have to wait for critical care.
- Goal 2: Expand and Improve Housing Options for Virginians with ASD and Other DD
- A small percentage of the ASD community needs long-term, treatment-based residential communities. Virginia’s system lacks the capacity to provide quality care to all who need it.
- Goal 3: Enhance Virginia’s Early Intervention Services
- Autism is treated best when it is caught before age 3. However, thousands of children fall through the cracks, and many are not diagnosed until entering school many years later. A number of improvements can be made to catch Virginia up with other states and improve the diagnosis process for parents, clinicians, and children.