Autism advocates want more state investment

Transportation issues seen as particularly critical

BOSTON (WWLP) – Governor Charlie Baker declared April to be Autism Awareness Month in Massachusetts, but advocates want the state to do more to support the developmentally disabled.

Families of children with autism want the state to invest more in their kids’ futures, as lawmakers work on the budget for the next fiscal year.

The House Budget Committee allocated more than $24 million for “Turning 22,” a proposal that provides transportation, employment, and caregiving services to developmentally disabled residents as adults. The committee also matched Governor Baker’s proposal to budget more than $23 million for transportation for the Department of Developmental Services.

Many adults with developmental disabilities depend on transportation to get to doctor’s appointments and work. It is especially difficult in western and central Massachusetts, where there is less public transportation in many areas.

“Cars are a necessity where we’re from. It’s not as if you’re questioning if you get a car, but when you get a car. We don’t have subways, we don’t have trolleys, we don’t have any of that, so I think it’s much more difficult the further inland you go,” Sen. Jennifer Flanagan (D-Leominster) said.

The budget still has a long way to go before it is finalized.