Autism Awareness Month at DDS
A Message from Commissioner Jane F. Ryder

Dear DDS Community,

As many of you may know, April is Autism Awareness Month, and we at DDS have been finding opportunities to celebrate our autism spectrum disorder (ASD) community throughout the month.

I hope some of you had the opportunity to join our "Spectrums of Success: Celebrating the Successes of the DDS ASD Community" program hosted by our Northeast region last week. I found myself inspired hearing folks with ASD share their professional and personal success stories and, in many cases, how the programs and staff at DDS have played a role in helping them to achieve these goals.
I was similarly inspired seeing DDS staff in our Springfield/Westfield Area Office wearing blue to show their support as they held their own Autism Awareness Day, and while attending a Statewide ASD Conference in Devens. DDS staff from across the Commonwealth gathered at this conference to think creatively about our ASD programs and services, and how we can continue to evolve and adapt our services to meet the needs of our community.

Since ASD became an eligible diagnosis for DDS in 2014, we have expanded our services to include adult autism services, our children's autism waiver program, and our seven Autism Support Centers which help thousands of families annually.

Our ASD population also continues to expand -- this year alone, DDS eligible ASD individuals increased by 18%. I'm happy to share that the Governor's House 1 budget for DDS in 2024 reflects this growth, increasing our adult autism funding by 24%.

I'm proud of the commitment to our ASD community that this funding increase demonstrates, and the ways that this will empower our agency to provide innovative and genuine opportunities for individuals with ASD to participate fully in, and contribute meaningfully to, their communities as valued members.

Commissioner Jane F. Ryder
Pictured: DDS staff brainstorming at the Statewide ASD conference and wearing blue shirts in honor of Autism Awareness Month.
DDS Spotlight: Employee and Advocate Recognition Awards
The important mission of our agency is only possible with the work of our staff, board members, and advocates.

Over the past few weeks, DDS had the opportunity to celebrate the important work of our staff and advocates.

The DDS Northeast region hosted an annual Performance Recognition Awards at the Hogan Regional Center, honoring the outstanding work of DDS staff.

All sectors of the workforce, and in total 120 employees, were recognized for their contributions, commitment, and leadership. Northeast Regional Director Kelly Lawless thanked the awardees and was joined by Commissioner Ryder and Deputy Commissioner Elizabeth Morse in acknowledging the workforce’s positive impact on the lives of the individuals that DDS supports.
On March 28, the DDS Chicopee Holyoke Area Office and Citizen Advisory Board hosted a Community Celebration of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, its 18th annual celebration.
The event was themed Shared Living: The Importance of Relationships, and it honored the individuals and families who welcome individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities into their lives, as well as our essential workforce heroes.

They were excited to welcome awardees from the community, and special guests Mayor of Holyoke Joshua Garcia and Mayor of Chicopee John Vieau.
Pictured: DDS staff honored at Northeast Region's Perfomance Recognition Awards and DDS staff and awardees at Community Celebration of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
Open Advisory Board seats:
  • Statewide Advisory Council
  • Worcester MA
  • Western MA

Make a difference with DDS!
Are you interested in creating positive change for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities? 

Consider joining our Statewide Advisory Council (SAC) or a regional DDS Citizen's Advisory Board (CAB).

The SAC and CABs are groups of self-advocates, family members, and community members who assist DDS through legislative advocacy, advisement, and community education.

If you're interested in joining or learning more, email
Assistive Technology Fairs

Mark your calendars for our upcoming spring Assistive Technology (AT) fairs!

The fairs will feature AT demonstrations, in-person and virtual exhibits from AT vendors, and are free and open to all.

Newton, MA
Metro AT Fair
Monday, May 8, 2023
1:00 PM to 5:00 PM EDT

Boston Marriot - Newton
2345 Commonwealth Ave
Newton, MA 02466

Learn more about
Supportive Technology services
and programs at DDS:

What is Assistive Technology (AT)?
Learn about AT from Jennifer Petersen, DDS Director of Supportive Technology
MassHealth Update
Do you or your dependents use MassHealth insurance? MassHealth families need to renew coverage this year and must act now to stay covered.

Be sure to update your contact information and report household changes to MassHealth.

Find more information on MassHealth’s Redetermination website
Upcoming Webinars, Virtual Groups & Events
Open to individuals, families, and caregivers

Always Exploring, Never Lost: DDS/MABVI Support Group
April 29, 10-11:30 AM ET
29 Denby Road, Allston MA, 02134
This support group for individuals with vision loss meets in-person monthly as part of the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (MABVI)’s Orientation and Mobility Community Activity Series with DDS. Focus topics may include self advocacy, guide dogs, accessible technology, and more. Accessible parking and accessible bathrooms are available.

DDS Metro Region presents DDS 101: Including Deaf Services
May 3, 6:30-8 PM ET
This virtual event for individuals of all ages and families will provide an introduction to DDS services including eligibility, transition, self-direction, autism supports, deaf services, and more.

DDS Holyoke Chicopee Transition Resource Fair
May 3, 4-7 PM ET
Moose Family Center 244 Fuller Road, Chicopee, MA 01020
Join DDS and Multicultural Community Services of the Pioneer Valley for a transition resource fair. Open to all students and families of transition-age youth (14-22 years old), the fair will feature vendors, raffle prizes, and offer dinner and refreshments. The fair is a great opportunity for families to learn about DDS programs and resources, and what comes after high school.

To request an ADA accommodation for any DDS event, complete the Reasonable Accommodation Online Request Form. Please allow at least two weeks (14 days) advance notice. Last minute requests will be accepted but may encounter delays and may not be processed. For more information about the accommodation process, contact DDS ADA Coordinator, Larry Haile (
Annual Youth Leadership Forum

Do you want to learn about and engage in youth disability leadership, including legislative advocacy and disability services?

The Youth Leadership Forum (YLF) is an annual free conference for young adults ages 16-22 with disabilities. Attend in-person at Emerson College in- Boston, virtually, or apply to be a paid mentor during the conference, this June 25-29th.

Learn more about the conference from our partner, Partners for Youth with Disabilities, and sign up today!