Michael Webber, Michigan State Senator, A Voice For the Autism Community

Senator Michael Webber

“We are truly blessed to be James’ parents as we learn more about Autism and focus on his needs every day,” Senator Michael Webber

By Ron Sandison

Michigan State Senator Michael Webber and I went to high school together at Rochester Adams. We both are advocates for the autism community. While running for office Michael’s nine-year-old son James who has autism, helped by distributing flyers and attending fundraising events. Michigan State Senator Webber is working with the autism community and Autism Alliance of Michigan to develop program to improve the lives of people with disabilities and autism. Webber shares, “Improving the employment rate for people with disabilities and autism is my top priority.”

Michael and his wife Julia noticed that James’s speech development was delayed and he struggled with social interaction. James was diagnosed with autism at age three and received speech therapy from the county. Michael shares, “Social interaction is difficult for James. He learned social skills both with therapy and interacting with his peers and attending summer camps. In education, inclusion is very important the more your child interactions with other children the easier for him or her to learn social cues and adapt to their environment.”

Michael Webber and family

Michael recommends to parents, “Have your child with a disability or autism attend general education classes as much as possible and in areas your child requires extra help provide special education. Advocate for students to learn about autism in school. When students understand disabilities and autism, they will understand the challenges these students experience and be more accepting of their needs and will include them in activities and birthday parties.”

Webber shares with parents whose child was recently diagnosed with autism, “My wife and I were accepting of our son’s autism but it took us a little while to embrace autism. Embracing autism causes you to research and receive the right services and the right therapies to meet your child needs which will help your child to develop social skills. You can accomplishes this by connecting with other families who are farther along on the journey, reading books and articles, attending conferences, and meeting with professions in the autism community.”

Interning at the State Capital in Lansing and working on state policies, sparked Michael’s passion to help his community as an elective official. After he earned his bachelor’s degree in international relations from Michigan State University’s James Madison College, he served on the Rochester Hills City Council for seven years including three as vice president.

For people with autism who have a desire to run for a public office and a passion to be agents of change, Michael advices,

Successful elective officials have a heart for service and for their community. This heart compels them to serve the people and to advocate for their needs. If you want to run for a public office, first get involved with the party you plan to run with and get to know the members of the party; second, be involved in your community by volunteer work, this helps voters to know who you are and also for you to know their needs.

Webber currently serves his community as a member on the boards of Dutton Farm and the Rochester Community Schools Foundation.

Four tips Michael shares for a career in politics:

1. If you think you would enjoy a career as an elective official, first do an internship for a politician or the government, to see if you enjoy politics.

2. Attend local political party meetings to increase your awareness of current issues and proposals that concern voters and the political parties.

3. Make sure your motives are pure to help the community and not advance lobbyists agenda.

4. Run for a passion of yours and be an advocate for positive change.

One of the things, Webber would love to change about politics, “Public officials are appointed to serve the people and not lobbyist’s interests. There’s too much money in political campaigns and too many fundraiser events. Time fundraising would be better spent serving the community. It requires money to get your name on the ballet but we need policies to limit the amount of campaign money. I like doing fundraisers at a house or office, this way I can get to know my supporters and their needs.”

From 2015 to 2020 legislations Webber did to empower people with disabilities included working with Xavier DeGroat for police training on autism, pushing back on schools use of restraints, and additional funding for autism job training programs through Autism Alliance of Michigan. The Art of Autism article on Xavier DeGroat.

As a Michigan State Senator with a son with autism, Michael has advocated for the disability community by meeting with local companies and encouraging them to hire people with autism, by promoting policies that help people with disabilities to gain and maintain employment, and increased funding for educational and early diagnosis programs.

A humorous moment in Webber’s political career occurred when a freshman Senator after seeing the food buffet at a public book reading event, exclaimed, “There’s so much food that I am eating like I am going to the electric chair.”

Michael’s goal as a Michigan State Senator is to work as hard for the 300,000 people he serves as they work. Webber shares, “People are timid of government and as a State Senator I hope to break-down the walls of separation with trust and integrity. During COVID I accomplished this by helping people receive their unemployment benefits and the resources they needed.”

Senator Michael Webber

State Senator Michael Webber’s BIO

Sen. Michael Webber was elected to the Michigan state Senate in 2022 to represent the residents of the 9th District, which includes the cities of Rochester, Rochester Hills, Troy, and Utica along with parts of Oakland Township, Shelby Township and Sterling Heights. A resident of the district for over 30 years, Webber is a licensed insurance. He earned his bachelor’s degree in international relations from Michigan State University’s James Madison College. From 2015 to 2020, Webber served in the state House of Representatives, elected by the residents of the greater Rochester area to serve the 45th District. During that time, he served as chair of the House Committee on Regulatory Reform and served as a member of several committees including the Energy, Insurance, Tax Policy, and Transportation committees. Webber and his wife, Julia, live in Rochester Hills with their son, James.
Website: https://www.senatormichaelwebber.com
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/SenatorMichaelWebber
Email Contact: senmwebber@senate.michigan.gov

Ron Sandison

Ron Sandison works full time in the medical field and is a professor of theology at Destiny School of Ministry. He is an advisory board member of Autism Society Faith Initiative of Autism Society of America. Sandison has a Master of Divinity from Oral Roberts University and is the author of A Parent’s Guide to Autism: Practical Advice. Biblical Wisdom, published by Charisma House and Thought, Choice, Action. Ron has memorized over 10,000 Scriptures including 22 complete books of the New Testament and over 5,000 quotes. Ron’s third book Views from the Spectrum was released in May 2021.

Ron frequently guest speaks at colleges, conferences, autism centers, and churches. Ron and his wife, Kristen, reside in Rochester Hills, MI, with a baby daughter, Makayla Marie born on March 20, 2016.

You can contact Ron at his website www.spectruminclusion.com or email him at sandison456@hotmail.com

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