The good news is that if you live in California there’s the Lanterman Act, the law that states people with [autism], no matter their age or degree of disability, have a right to needed supports and services. Specifically, the “right to prompt medical care and treatment”, a “right to physical exercise and recreational opportunities”; “right to be free from [self] harm” and right to lead “more independent, productive and normal lives.” (CA. WIC CODE 4501 & 4502 (d) (h)).
Where will you encounter these laws? Where will you have to cite them? Well, California is unique. In California we have what’s called Regional Centers. There are 21 Regional Centers scattered around California. Each one, responsible for coordinating and providing services to children and adults with autism and other developmental challenges. I am proud to live in California. Mainly because we are the only state that has openly taken responsibility for caring for developmentally disabled population.
That’s not to say this means you will automatically get services. Because of budget cuts, in all the wrong places, you have to fight for needed services. Sadly, this often pits parents against the very Regional Centers that were created to provide services, under the Lanterman Act.
Because funds for disabled are coveted by each Regional Center, Regional Centers will often tell families they can’t provide a service if it’s not in their purchase of service policy (POS).
What if a Regional Center determines your autistic child, as per their POS policy, doesn’t qualify for services? Or they don’t provide a certain service they need? Remind the Regional Center in your area, that the law says there must be “exemption” to their POS policies (CA WIC CODE 4648.5 (c)).
An “exemption” may be granted…when a Regional Center employee “determines that the service is a primary or critical means of ameliorating physical, cognitive or psychological effects of consumer’s [autism], or the service is necessary to enable the [autistic adult] to remain in the home and no alternative service exists."
Sounds crazy, right? But this is the reality we face here in California, despite being the only state that has the Lanterman Act. The sad fact is that despite the Lanterman Act, if you live in California, you only have rights if you know what they are.