How Indiana's Autism Laws Benefit Individuals

Explore how Indiana's autism laws support education, employment, and healthcare rights for individuals.

reuben kesherim
Ruben Kesherim
March 19, 2024

How Indiana's Autism Laws Benefit Individuals

Laws Governing Autism in Indiana

Indiana has implemented specific laws and regulations to ensure individuals with autism have access to the services and support they need, including education, healthcare, and employment rights.

The Education System and Autism

One of the essential services for students with autism in Indiana is the Individualized Education Program (IEP). This program outlines the individualized goals, services, and accommodations needed to meet a student with autism's specific educational needs. Indiana regulations regarding autism spectrum disorder fall under 511 IAC 7-41-1, with authority derived from IC 20-19-2-8 and IC 20-19-2-16, affecting IC 20-19-2 and IC 20-35. Indiana's special education rules are contained in Article 7, specifically in 511 IAC 7-32 through 49, with the most recent updates being available as of May 2019 [3].

Autism and Insurance Coverage

In Indiana, laws have been enacted to improve insurance coverage for autism services, such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy. The coverage may vary depending on the specific insurance plan [1].

Indiana became the 49th state to enact autism insurance coverage legislation in 2001 through House Enrolled Act 1343. The Indiana mandate requires health insurers to cover autism-related services, including Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, for individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Since its implementation, the law has expanded to also include coverage for medications, psychological counseling, rehabilitation, and physical therapy for individuals with ASD.

The law is applicable to children under the age of 19 with a diagnosis of ASD, provided the treatment is determined to be medically necessary. The coverage extends to both health insurance and HMO plans in Indiana, ensuring broader access to crucial services for individuals with ASD.

Guardianship Laws for Autism

Indiana has guardianship laws that provide a legal framework for individuals with autism who require assistance with decision-making. There are several types of guardianship available, including full guardianship, limited guardianship, and temporary guardianship [1]. These guardianship laws for individuals with autism are critical in ensuring their rights, welfare, and overall well-being are protected.

Financial Support for Autism

When it comes to treating and managing autism spectrum disorder (ASD), financial support is often a critical factor. In Indiana, several state, county, and federal programs provide financial assistance and support to individuals with ASD and their families.

State and County Funded Programs

Many children with ASD in Indiana can access support programs funded by the state or county. These programs include financial aid, education support, medical care, job skills training, and residential or living services. Some benefits are universally available due to federal laws, while others are determined based on need or the severity of the disability. Most children with ASD, especially those with intellectual disabilities, are likely eligible for these benefits.

Over the past 30 years, Indiana has seen an increase in funding for community-based supports. However, the allocation of funds into these services varies among states. While some states prioritize policies and funding to ensure that most children with disabilities, including ASD, live in family settings, others invest in state facilities or community-based homes for individuals with ASD.

Insurance Coverage for Autism Services

In Indiana, insurance coverage may extend to applied behavioral assessment (ABA) therapy for children with ASD. Health insurance might also cover "related services" like transportation costs. Furthermore, the Department of Motor Vehicles can issue disability parking permits for children and adults with disabilities, aiding in their transportation needs.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefits

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits in Indiana support families raising children with disabilities that impact functioning at home, school, and in the community. Eligibility for SSI is based on financial need and disability level. Families with high costs or multiple children, even if not low income, may also qualify for SSI. Eligible families often receive monthly financial assistance, and in most cases, the child would qualify for Medicaid as well, providing publicly funded health insurance.

Home- and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Waiver Program

A common form of financial support for families in Indiana is the Home- and Community-Based Services (HCBS) waiver program. This program caters to the level of the child's disability and its impact on the family. Despite income restrictions, funding might still be available, and parents are advised to contact their local HCBS office immediately upon an ASD diagnosis to join the waiting list. Upon receiving assistance, families work with a case manager to create a yearly service plan that outlines the necessary supports. These supports may include respite services, medical equipment, home modifications, or other required assistance.

By exploring these various financial support options, families in Indiana can better navigate the autism laws in the state and find the assistance they need to cater to their children's needs.

Federal Laws and Autism

Several federal laws in the United States have been enacted to protect individuals with autism and other disabilities. These statutes aim to ensure that people with disabilities have equal rights and opportunities in various aspects of life. This section explores the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a landmark law that grants civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities. This legislation guarantees equal opportunities in various domains like employment, public accommodations, transportation, and government services. The ADA covers a broad range of disabilities, including autism, ensuring that individuals with autism are not discriminated against and have equal access to opportunities and services [3].

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), also referred to as IDEIA, is a federal legislation that ensures special education services for students with disabilities, from birth to age 21. This includes students with autism. The IDEIA guarantees a free and appropriate public education, emphasizing special education and related services for all students with disabilities. This aligns with the provision for students with autism, ensuring they have access to education that caters to their unique needs.

Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is another crucial federal civil rights law, similar to the ADA. This statute prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability, covering individuals who receive services from federally funded programs like schools and government agencies. Individuals who do not qualify for an Individualized Education Program (IEP) may still be eligible for rights and services under Section 504. This includes students with disabilities like autism, ensuring that they receive appropriate accommodations to support their learning and development [6].

These federal laws, along with state-specific regulations, play a vital role in protecting the rights of individuals with autism and ensuring their access to crucial services and opportunities. Understanding these laws is crucial for individuals with autism, their families, and professionals working in fields related to autism.

Indiana's Special Education Rules

In Indiana, there are specific regulations and mandates in place to protect the rights of students with disabilities, including those diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. This includes Article 7 of the Indiana Special Education Rules, the Indiana Health Insurance Mandate, and Procedural Safeguards for parents.

Article 7 of Indiana Special Education Rules

The Indiana Special Education Rules, specifically Article 7, ensure that students with disabilities are not discriminated against in federally funded schools in Indiana. These rules, established in the Indiana Administrative Code, outline the provision of special education services in Indiana's public educational agencies. They align with the federal requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a federal law that ensures free appropriate public education and related services to eligible children with disabilities [3].

The Indiana Health Insurance Mandate

The Indiana Health Insurance Mandate for Autism Spectrum Disorder, enacted in 2001, was a pioneering law that required insurance providers to offer coverage for individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. This made Indiana the first state to adopt such a provision. However, the mandate does not apply to self-insured companies or companies headquartered outside Indiana. As of 2017, nearly every state in the US had enacted a similar mandate.

Procedural Safeguards for Parents

Parents of children with disabilities in Indiana are entitled to rights under federal and state laws governing special education. These rights, known as Procedural Safeguards, must be provided to parents annually, upon initial referral, during the first complaint or due process hearing, upon disciplinary actions, and upon request.

In addition, under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, public schools in Indiana are required to give procedural safeguards similar to those under IDEA to parents and students with disabilities.

In conclusion, these rules and mandates illustrate the steps Indiana has taken to ensure that individuals with disabilities, including those with Autism, are given the necessary support and protections. By understanding these laws, parents and caregivers can better advocate for their children and ensure they receive the services and accommodations they need.

Autism and Employment Rights

When it comes to employment, individuals with autism are protected by several laws ensuring their equal rights and opportunities. These include Federal laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as specific policies and procedures implemented by the Indiana State Government.

Americans with Disabilities Act and Employment

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability. It provides protections against discrimination to qualified individuals with disabilities, guaranteeing equal opportunity in various sectors including employment. This law ensures that employers provide reasonable accommodation to employees or applicants with disabilities, unless doing so would cause undue hardship.

This means, for instance, that an employer may need to modify work schedules, restructure jobs, or provide assistive technology or other workplace adjustments to enable an employee with autism to perform the essential functions of their job.

Indiana State Government and ADA

In line with the ADA, the State of Indiana is committed to providing a diverse and inclusive workforce. The state ensures reasonable accommodations for its employees with disabilities, allowing them to perform their best work for the citizens. This commitment is in alignment with the ADA, as amended in 2008.

The policies, procedures, and forms related to requesting reasonable accommodations apply exclusively to employees of the state of Indiana. The Indiana State Personnel Department provides information and resources to facilitate compliance with the ADA, ensuring equal opportunities for individuals with disabilities within the state government workforce.

By understanding these autism laws in Indiana, individuals with autism and their families can better navigate the employment landscape, ensuring that their rights are protected and that they have the necessary accommodations to succeed in their careers.

Grant Funding Opportunities

Beyond government support and insurance coverage, grant funding opportunities provide another avenue for financial assistance for families, educators, and professional organizations supporting individuals with autism in Indiana. This section delves into the process of applying for these grants and the types of funding opportunities available.

Applying for Grants

The grant application process can be quite detailed and requires preparation and organization. Applicants, whether professionals working for schools or non-profit organizations, need to assess the suitability of specific grants by reviewing factors like full eligibility requirements, past funded projects, average award amounts, deadlines, registration needs, and document submission requirements.

Grant applications typically require detailed project information including goals, outcomes, objectives, measures, evaluations, and a projected budget. In some cases, families may need to provide their tax returns to establish eligibility for grants.

Types of Grant Funding Opportunities

The types of grant funding opportunities available can be categorized based on the target audience and their needs:

  1. For parents and family members: Grants can target areas like Crisis & Health Services, Therapy or Educational Services & Related Products, Technology (such as iPads and communication devices), and Training. These grants are available at national, state, and local levels.
  2. For educators and professionals: Grant funding opportunities are available for educational projects and program ideas at the national, state, and local levels through various organizations. These grants can be used to fund innovative approaches for teaching and supporting individuals with autism.

Grant funding opportunities in the landscape of autism laws in Indiana provide a valuable resource for families and professionals. By understanding the application process and the types of grants available, they can access additional support for their needs and continue their important work in supporting individuals with autism.