Rockville, MD, June 10, 2024 – June 22 marks the 25th anniversary of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Olmstead v. L.C. This historic ruling declared that unjustified segregation of individuals with disabilities constitutes discrimination under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 

On this momentous anniversary, we honor Lois Curtis and Elaine Wilson, the two courageous women at the heart of this case. Lois and Elaine, who lived with mental health and developmental disabilities, spent much of their lives in institutions, often separated from their families and communities. Their brave advocacy for the right to live in the community, supported by their health professionals, led to this transformative decision. 

The Olmstead decision has profoundly impacted individuals with Autism by affirming their right to live and receive services in the least restrictive and most integrated settings possible. This ruling ensures greater access to home and community-based services, including supported living, day programs, employment support, and therapy services, allowing people with Autism to thrive in their communities. 

Despite these advances, many challenges remain. In most states, waiting lists for these essential services are exceedingly long—sometimes spanning a lifetime. According to ANCOR’s “State of America’s Direct Support Workforce Crisis 2023” report, workforce shortages and inadequate funding have forced 63% of community-based providers to close programs nationwide. Nearly 500,000 individuals are currently on waiting lists for services, as highlighted in ANCOR’s “2024 Case for Inclusion.” 

“On this anniversary, the Autism Society of America recommits to advocating for enhancement of family supports and the urgent need for more immediate, quality support options,” stated Christopher S. Banks, President and CEO of the Autism Society of America. “We are educating Members of Congress from both parties about the critical need to support quality community-based services.” 

Congress must act now to ensure states comply with the Olmstead decision, enabling individuals with Autism to live more fulfilling, integrated, and independent lives within their communities. Together, we can uphold the promise of Olmstead and continue to advance the rights and well-being of all individuals with disabilities.