Beginning in 1995, ALAW held a series of meetings with the Secretary of the Department of Public Welfare and the Deputy Secretaries for Mental Retardation, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, and Social Programs to discuss the unmet needs of adults with autism. It was agreed that a study was necessary to assess these needs and to make recommendations. After a period with no progress, ALAW conducted the study.
In 1998 ALAW published "The State of Autism Services in Pennsylvania," an analysis of federal and state laws, regulations, and practices. This report was presented to the Department of Public Welfare’s Offices of Mental Retardation, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Social Programs, Policy Development, and Medical Assistance. As a result of ALAW’s findings, principally that adults with autism are entitled to services under the joint federal-state Medicaid long-term care funding system, the Department of Public Welfare instituted the Autism Pilot Program. The Autism Pilot Workgroup was formed to develop the pilot program, with representation from all of these agencies and ALAW. The Autism Pilot Workgroup, with the Office of Social Programs serving as the lead agency, was a committee that guided the design and development of the Autism Pilot Program.
The Autism Pilot Program was planned as a two-year project to serve 20 adults with autism in the southeast region of Pennsylvania. Participants were selected utilizing a questionnaire developed and distributed by ALAW to the over 100 families on ALAW’s contact list. Autism Pilot Program participants represent the variety found in the autism spectrum. Some participants require only a few hours a week of support while others need full-time assistance. Some participants are still living with their families while others have formed their own households. Some participants are attending college and some are working full or part time.
The OBRA waiver still continues to be available to, and utilized by many people in PA today.