The heinous acts of abuse that took place at Willowbrook State School shocked the state and nation and left us horrified for the children and adults who were victims of this disgusting maltreatment.
It’s been 50 years since this atrocity was brought to light and the institution was finally closed in 1987. Since then, we’ve come a long way to ensure people with disabilities are treated with respect and never forced to endure this type of cruelty ever again.
Still, as chair of the Assembly Subcommittee on Autism Spectrum Disorders and member of the Assembly Mental Health Committee, I know our work is far from over to create a truly equitable society.
New Yorkers with disabilities need a voice in Albany to fight for the support they need, and it’s been my mission to be that voice since taking office. Last year, I co-sponsored and helped pass a law creating an autism detection, education and mapping program within the Autism Spectrum Disorders Advisory Board to promote early detection of autism (Ch. 804 of 2021.)
To further help children with autism receive the support they need as early as possible, I also championed a law requiring children be screened for autism at their 18- and 24-month visits (Ch. 241 of 2018.) And this year, I’m fighting for legislation that would establish the Office of the Independent Intellectual and Developmental Disability Ombudsman Program to ensure individuals with disabilities receive adequate coverage from managed care organizations that meet their specific needs (A.9170.)
It’s more important than ever that we look out for our most vulnerable residents and provide them with the resources and opportunities they deserve. We must continue working to break down the barriers to help people with disabilities live fulfilling, independent lives.
New York State Assembly