In light of April being National Autism Awareness Month, we spoke with Melanie Jones, Executive Director of the Autism Society of Alabama, for an inside look at one of the local organizations making a difference in the autism community.
What is The Autism Society of Alabama and what is its mission?
The Autism Society of Alabama (ASA) is the state's leading autism organization for improving services for individuals with autism and their families through education and advocacy. Since 1994, ASA has provided compassionate programs including conferences, camps, network support groups, first responder trainings and much more.
How does your organization raise support and awareness?
ASA is a grassroots organization which relies heavily on community support and engagement. Not only do our events help with funding, but they’re a great avenue for generating awareness, as well. In addition, ASA offers an awareness car tag which is a great tool for helping with getting the word out about autism and our organization. Over 2500 car tags have been purchased; so, having these tags on the road is definitely increasing awareness.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of the job is meeting and getting to know the families who are benefiting from our programs, having them involved and engaged in our advocacy efforts. Last year was a monumental year in that Alabama became the 46th state to require meaningful autism insurance. Without the support of our families and making their voices heard to our lawmakers, this much needed and long overdue initiative would not have happened. HB 284 will always be a reminder of what hard work and determination can achieve.
How have individuals The Autism Society supports in Alabama been impacted by the ABLE Act?
The Enable Savings Plan Alabama has brought many families on board to open savings accounts for their children and adults affected by autism. Having a tax-exempt savings account to save for disability-related expenses without impacting eligibility for resource-based benefits is another step in the right direction for our families.
For more information on the Autism Society of Alabama, visit www.autism-alabama.org.
Have you or a loved one been positively impacted by the ability to save in an Enable Alabama account? Share your story with us on our Facebook page, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.