Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Representative McKenna Named to State Autism Commission

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) is pleased to announce his appointment of State Representative Joseph D. McKenna (R-Webster) to the state Autism Commission.

Established by the Massachusetts Legislature in 2014, the Autism Commission is charged with making recommendations on policies impacting individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), including Asperger’s syndrome and Smith-Magenis syndrome. The Commission is responsible for investigating the services and supports that are available to individuals with ASD and recommending improvements when necessary. This includes public and post-secondary education, job attainment and employment, housing and independent living, social and recreational opportunities, and behavioral and mental health services among others.

As part of its duties, the Autism Commission files an annual report with the Governor, the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities, and the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. This report details the services, supports and treatment available to the state’s autism population, along with recommendations for legislative and regulatory actions needed to improve these services and address any unmet needs.

“I am so excited to deepen the work I can do to help individuals with autism and their families in Massachusetts,” said Representative McKenna. “I have developed many relationships and friendships throughout the ASD community, so I have learned a great deal already about the challenges, big and small, of day-to-day life. I look forward to this opportunity to further the great work that has already been done in MA to break down those challenges and to increase access to all necessary care and services for everyone in this wonderful community.”

“Joe understands the difficulties that individuals with autism and their families often face when trying to access services, and he has been an advocate for breaking down those barriers,” said Representative Jones. “As a member of the Autism Commission, I am confident he will do everything he can to ensure that Massachusetts fulfills its commitment to providing the ASD community with access to comprehensive support services that allow individuals with autism to achieve their full potential.”

Representative McKenna is currently co-sponsoring House Bill 1203, which would expand health care options for individuals with autism by allowing them to remain covered under their parents’ health insurance beyond the age of 26. He also previously co-sponsored legislation requiring training for law enforcement and correction officers on how to engage in appropriate interactions with persons on the autism spectrum who are victims or witnesses to a crime or are suspected or convicted of a crime.

 A member of the House Committee on Ways and Means, McKenna also serves as the Ranking Minority Member of the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure, and is a member of the House Committee on Steering, Policy and Scheduling, the Joint Committee on Revenue, and the Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Businesses.

 McKenna was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2014. He represents the 18th Worcester District, which consists of Webster, Douglas, Sutton, precincts 1 and 4 in Oxford, and precinct 1 in Uxbridge. He also serves on the Board of Directors for The Last Green Valley, Inc. the non-profit stewardship organization serving the Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor in MA and CT.