On June 23, we were invited by the Congressional Autism Coalition to the U.S. Capitol Building to share insights about the SAP Autism at Work Program. Staff members from 17 House of Representatives Offices and 3 Senate Offices were present at the event.
Founded and co-chaired by U.S. Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) and U.S. Representative Mike Doyle (D-PA) in 2001, the Congressional Autism Caucus, also known as the Congressional Coalition for Autism Research & Education (C.A.R.E.), currently includes over 180 Representatives and Senators from over 40 states. It is the first organization on Capitol Hill to call national attention to autism and the first Congressional Member Organization (CMO) to focus its efforts on autism spectrum disorders.
The goals of the bipartisan Coalition include, but are not limited to:
• Increasing general awareness of autism and autism spectrum disorders among Members of Congress and policy analysts in federal government;
• Educate Members of Congress on current and future initiatives regarding autism;
• Serve as a forum where autism-related policy issues can be exchanged, debated and discussed;
• Promote all means to ease the burdens of families and loved ones affected by autism.
Since its inception, Representatives Smith and Doyle have used the caucus as a vehicle to aggressively direct more federal attention and funding to autism research and treatment programs. CARE is an extremely important Congressional body with members that include Party Leaders, Committee Chairs, and Committee Ranking Members.
CARE co-Chair Congressman Chris Smith commented that “SAP is leading the way when it comes to employment of those on the autism spectrum, and we need other companies to follow their exceptional example.” Scott Badesch, President & CEO of the Autism Society of America echoed the Congressman’s comments and praised SAP as a global corporation that is showing that hiring autistic employees is not only the right thing to do, but it is a good business decision as well.
A big thanks to my colleague John Stephenson for his guidance and to Congressman Smith, Congressman Doyle and Scott Badesch for their leadership.