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Last Updated: 10/31/2017
 

Article of Interest - Advocacy

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Meet with Your Congressional Representatives During Their October Recess

Autism Society of America Action Alert, October 2003

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How to Advocate with Your Congressional Representatives Without Traveling to Washington

 

You can and should look for opportunities to let your Members of Congress know that you and other families living with special needs or issues are their constituents and would like them to be responsive to your needs.  Members of Congress will be in the district for a few days leading up to the Columbus Day holiday, and this is a great time for them to hear from you! This document provides a quick tutorial on how to do that where you live. 

 

Identify your Members of Congress

 

Each family has a U.S. Representative and two U.S. Senators representing them in the U.S. Congress.  If you don't know who your Members of Congress are, one resource is the internet or World Wide Web.  There are two Web sites that can help you figure out who represents you in Congress:  www.house.gov and www.senate.gov

 

The same sites should allow you to go to the Web sites of your Members of Congress.  There you will find contact information for the local office closest to you.  If that information is not listed, use the contact information for the Washington office to ask for local addresses and phone numbers. 

 

If you do not have access to the internet, look in the government pages of your local telephone directory in the section on federal government.

 

Making Appointments

 

Once you know who your Member is and how to reach them, call the office and ask to speak to the scheduler.  Many times the person who schedules the Member's time will ask you to provide a request in writing, but call first to see if that is necessary, and, if it is, where to direct your request. 

 

Your request could be along the following lines:

Hi, my name is _____ and I live in _____.  I'd like the opportunity to talk with Representative/Senator _____  or a member of their staff during the October Recess.  Can you help me schedule something? Our family is living with autism, and we have a very strong interest in what Congress is doing to make sure that _____  (state your issue - for example: you might say "we have a strong interest in what Congress is doing to make sure that autism research is strong and that there are enough services available for people with autism.") 

 

I'd appreciate being able to talk with the Congressman/Senator for just 5 or 10 minutes about my concerns.  Can you tell me when he/she will be in town next and when I could schedule a meeting?

 

Keep in mind that the Members of Congress do keep very aggressive schedules, so you may be asked to meet with a staff person instead or to attend a local town hall meeting or other public venue where the Member of Congress will be.  These can be very valuable experiences, so don't be discouraged if this is what you hear from the Member's scheduling staff.


What to Say

 

If you have a meeting or see the Member at an event, keep your message concise and brief, but don't be nervous about talking to them.  You are the constituent, and they want to hear from you. 

 

Tell him/her who you are, where you are from, and what your personal experience is with the issue - why you care.  

 

Ask him/her to show their support for your issue by doing something specific (supporting a bill, joining a caucus, or another action).

 

Thank him/her for their time and attention.

 

Ask if there is a staff person you could follow-up with.  Let them know you will be checking back.

Then, Follow UP! with a letter to ask what progress has taken place.

   

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