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Bills to create Autism Awareness and Acceptance Day await House vote

Carly Mellott wants to further raise awareness that someone with autism is not different.

She speaks from experience.

“My personal life has not been affected too negatively. It’s been challenging, yes, but I’ve had a lot of supports to get to a lot more of an understanding, and I’m just like any other person,” said Mellott, who works at Fairview-Princeton hospital and gets employment support through Options, Inc.

A pair of bills heading to the House Floor would designate April 2 of each year as Autism Awareness and Acceptance Day.

“Autism awareness day is an opportunity for us to find out what it really means for people with autism, to find out how much they can contribute and to celebrate their abilities,” said Rep. Paul Novotny (R-Elk River).

He sponsors HF1968 that, as amended for a technical fix, was one of two bills approved Thursday by the House State Government Finance and Elections Committee. The other was HF2903, sponsored by Rep. Mike Freiberg (DFL-Golden Valley).

Freiberg, who has a child with autism, said an important bill component is referencing autism acceptance.

“People with autism lead full and rich lives and are contributing members of society. It’s important that we acknowledge that and we encourage not only awareness of autism, but also acceptance,” he said.

Sen. Jim Abeler (R-Anoka) sponsors SF1861, a companion to the Novotny bill. It awaits action by the Senate State Government Finance and Policy and Elections Committee. There is no companion to Freiberg’s bill.

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