September 2019 Newsletter

Message from the Chairman: 

By now you’ve probably heard the news – AFAM will celebrate its 15thanniversary with a reception and dinner on Thursday, October 24that the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Natick.  Indeed, we have much to celebrate! 

As you will see from our Government Affairs update (below), the FY2020 budget approved by the Massachusetts legislature and signed by Governor Baker has added significant funding to services and programs that have an enormous impact on the lives of our families. Equally important, we see increasing numbers of individuals on the spectrum who take advantage of educational opportunities, training programs, and a growing number of options for employment and recreation. We are also hopeful that Nicky’s Law – one of our top legislative priorities – will become a reality in the coming months.

I hope you will join us on October 24 to help celebrate AFAM’s 15thanniversary.  I think you will feel inspired by what you hear that evening.

                                                                                    Michael J. Borr

                                                                                    AFAM Chairman

Join us for AFAM’s 15thAnniversary Celebration!!

AFAM will celebrate its 15thanniversary on October 24, 2019 – and we hope you will join us to mark this important milestone!  A special event is being planned for that evening at the Crowne Plaza Hotel/Verve in Natick.  We will be recognizing some special people and organizations that have made a tremendous difference in the lives of people on the autism spectrum, celebrating our many legislative victories, and charting a path for future progress.  The evening will include a reception and dinner, as well as entertainment.  Co-chairs for the event are Sue Linehan and Ilyse Levine-Kanji.  

For more information, including reservations and sponsorship opportunities, visit our website at or please call our office, 781-981-6270, and speak with Judy Zacek, who can answer any questions you may have.

Government Affairs

Budget Update

The FY 2020 budget approved by the Massachusetts legislature and signed by Governor Baker added significant funding to line items that will have an enormous, positive impact on our families! The legislature fully supported the Governor’s budget recommendations for the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) line items and added $17,850,000 for a total increase of $165.85 million. 

The increased appropriations address gaps in the line items that support people with autism and other disabilities.  These line items include Family Support, Community Day and Employment, Transportation, Autism Omnibus, and the Autism Children’s Waiver. In addition, Residential Services received a significant increase for unmet needs, the updated Turning 22 formula continued, the DESE DDS program received a 4 million dollar boost and Mass Concurrent Enrollment dollars also grew. Specific to adults with autism and DD, where many were waiting for services, the line item was increased by $12 million.  The appropriation for the Autism Children’s Waiver was increased by $500,000. 

AFAM, worked with The Arc of Massachusetts to support these FY2020 budget advocacy efforts.  Mass Advocates for Children and other partner organizations also helped make this budget a reality. AFAM is grateful to our member organizations and the hundreds of grass-roots members who take action by contacting their elected representatives at the State House with emails, phone calls, and personal visits.  

Update on AFAM’s Priority Legislation

Nicky’s Law/the Abuse Registry had a hearing in front of the Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities and was allotted over 2 hours for testimony.  Some members of the committee and Chair Chang-Diaz had feedback that would strengthen the bill. Agencies involved were consulted and the Disabled Person’s Protection Committee had final comments as well. The Arc and the Disability Law Center worked closely with the agencies involved and with lawmakers.  The changes were finalized at a meeting on August 26th

The Arc reports that they expect the bill to be voted on favorably by the committee and to move swiftly through to Ways and Means and to the Speaker of the House and the Senate President. 

AFAM will communicate any updates through our social media.

AFAM’s other top priority is the Workforce bill, which will likely come up for hearing in the late fall.  Language changes are also in progress and The Arc is working with the bill sponsors to iron out the best possible bill to increase the rates of pay for Direct Support Professionals (DSPs).

Also a priority bill, Criminal Justice Training Regarding Autistic Persons, was heard by the Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security. AFAM provided written and oral testimony and the bill was well received, with no opposition.  We expect the bill to be voted on in the next few weeks.  

For more information on the status of these bills as well as the rest of AFAM’s priorities, please contact Maura Sullivan, AFAM’s State House Representative at

News and Announcements 

Bridgewell’s Family Support Center presents What is a Rogers Guardianship? on Wednesday, September 18  from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. in the Training Room at 10 Dearborn Road in Peabody.  This informative presentation and a Q and A will feature Debra Kornbluh, an experienced appellate attorney whose specialties include guardianship and issues related to the administration of psychotropic medication.  The program is free, but please RSVP to Judith Doherty, Program Director, at

TILL Springboard Social Club – small group events resume in September.  Springboard offers members with learning differences, Asperger’s syndrome and other social support needs, small group social activities facilitated by professional group leaders, and exciting group outings and activities. For more information, please visit

The Lurie Center for Autism will present Another School Year – How to Ensure Your Child’s Success on Wednesday, September 18 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.  The discussion will be led by Lisa Nowinski, Ph.D. and Elise Wulff, M.Ed, who will focus on how to successfully work with your child’s school team to support your child’s unique strengths and needs.  Registration is required.  Email or call 781-860-1700.

HMEA’s Autism Resource Central will offer a day-long workshop — “Learning About Housing”– on Saturday, September 28, presented by Autism Housing Pathways at  712 Plantation Street, Worcester. The workshop will guide families in working through a housing manual that will help them determine what housing options might be appropriate for their family member. Topics include public funding streams, level of support needed, living skills development, assessment of personal resources, housing models, person-centered planning, and service providers.  Tickets must be bought in advance. Hardship scholarships are available; please contact Autism Housing Pathways at 617-893-8217 or   Get your ticket at:

Autism Speaks will hold its Boston Walk on Sunday, October 6th on Boston Common.  For further information, email

AANE will present an Open House regarding its LifeMAP Coaching Program on Thursday, October 17 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the AANE office at 51 Water Street, 2ndfloor, Watertown.  The program is designed for prospective LifeMAP coaching adults and their parents/family caregivers.  There is no cost for the Open House, but you must register by October 11.  for more information or to register, visit AANE’s website ( or contact Stephanie at 617-393-3824 or

The Arc of Massachusetts will hold its Transition Conference for Families: Charting the LifeCourse During the Transition Years on Saturday, November 16 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester.  Kicking off the event is Jane St. John, the Training and Development Specialist for the Charting the LifeCourse team at the University of Missouri, Kansas City.  This year’s transition conference will extend information to age 26.  Registration  is now open. Visit

AANE announces that registration is open for the annual Daniel W. Rosenn Connections Conference, which will take place on Saturday, November 16 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Best Western Royal Plaza Hotel & Trade Center (181 Boston Post Road, Marlborough).  The conference is for adults on the spectrum, parents, and professionals.  It will include 14 breakout sessions/2 workshops options; continuing education credits for professionals; information tables highlighting local community resources and programs; and opportunities to connect and network.  The keynote speaker is Becca Lory Hector, CAS, BCCS.  For additional information and to register, visit AANE’s website ( or contact Stephanie at 617-393-3824 or

TILL’s Woodland Guest House has fall weekend openings!

The Woodland Guest House offers adults (18+) with learning differences, intellectual disabilities, or autism, functional learning opportunities through fun activities with support and guidance from trained, experienced staff. Weekend guests enjoy exploring new interests, practicing independent living skills, and developing social skills through this unique recreational respite program.  

For more information, please visit

SAVE THE DATE:  Bridgewell’s Family Support Center and the Center for Professional Development will present The Invisible End of the Spectrum: Older Autistic Adults on Friday, December 13from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., with networking lunch and Q & A to follow. Location: 10 Dearborn Road, Peabody. The program will be presented by Eric Endlich, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist and co-author of the book, Older Autistic Adults: The Lost Generation.  He is also an autism dad.  The workshop is free but pre-registration is required.  Online registration will open on October 1.  For more information, please contact Kristen Janjar, MPA at or 781-776-4137.

TRASE After School Experience is back in session!  TILL’s Recreational After School Experience (TRASE), provides an engaging, supportive, and fun learning experience for DDS eligible students ages 14-22 in the communities of Boston, Brookline, Chelsea, Winthrop and Revere. For more information, please visit

The Lurie Center is offering a series of small-group informational workshops for parents, caregivers and families about Understanding the Guardianship Process in Massachusetts. All sessions will take place at the MGH Lurie Center (1 Maguire Road, Lexington). 

The process of pursuing legal guardianship for an adult child can be confusing, costly, time consuming and overwhelming for parents and caregivers. If you have a teen or young adult with autism spectrum disorder and/or Intellectual Disability, who is approaching the age of majority (18 years) and may not be able to make informed decisions, we can help. 

These workshops are designed to provide information, coaching and resources for those who live in Massachusetts but not to give legal advice. 

Guardianship 101              

The Basics

Monthly: 1stand 3rdThursdays: 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM

Fee: $10 per Person/Family

This workshop is designed for parents/caregivers who are at the beginning of the process.  The session is intended to review the basics of the guardianship process, including types of guardianships, alternatives and how to determine if your child needs a guardian when turning 18.

Guardianship 102              

Completing the  Paperwork

Monthly: 2ndand 4thThursdays: 11:00 – 12:30 PM

Fee: $50 per Person/Family Group Session or

$100 per one-on-one Session

This workshop is a hands-on group tutorial that includes review of the relevant checklists, time frames and probate court processes.  Assistance with completing required documentation is also provided. The workshop goal is to offer coaching and instruction, not legal advice or representation.

For additional announcements, please visit the websites of our Founding Organizations 

Autism Support Center

6 Southside Road

Danvers, MA 01923


HMEA’s Autism Resource Central

712 Plantation Street

Worcester, MA 01605


Autism Connections

116 Pleasant Street, Suite 366

Easthampton, MA 01027


Family Autism Center

789 Clapboardtree Street

Westwood, MA 02090


TILL’s Autism Support Center

20 Eastbrook Road, Suite 201

Dedham, MA 02026



Autism Alliance of MetroWest 

1881 Worcester Road

Framingham, MA 01701


Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation

1661 Worcester Road, Suite 102

Framingham, MA 01701


The Arc of Massachusetts

217 South Street

Waltham, MA 02453

781-891-6270, ext. 102                              

Massachusetts Advocates for Children

25 Kingston Street. 2ndFloor

Boston, MA 02111


Autism Speaks, Inc. – New England Chapter

85 Devonshire Street, 9thFloor

Boston, MA 02109


Charles River Center

59 E. Militia Heights Road

Needham, MA 02492


The Arc of Bristol County

141 Park Street

Attleboro, MA


Asperger/Autism Network (AANE)

51 Water Street. Suite 206

Watertown, MA 02472



10 Dearborn Road

Peabody, MA 01960