In April, the Autism Treatment Acceleration Act, S. 819, was introduced in the Senate by Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), Senator Robert Casey (D-PA) and Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ). In the House, Representatives Mike Doyle (D-PA), Chris Smith (D-NJ), Eliot Engel (D-NY), and Hank Johnson (D-GA) introduced H.R. 2413 on May 14. Both bills are to “provide for enhanced treatment, support, services, and research for individuals with autism spectrum disorders and their families,” and have been referred to committee.
The Autism Treatment Acceleration Act can make a huge difference in the lives of individuals on the autism spectrum throughout their lives. The legislation not only calls for calling for insurance companies to provide coverage for diagnosis and treatment; it also calls for:
•the establishment of an Autism Care Center Program to “provide grants and other assistance to improve the effectiveness and efficiency in providing comprehensive care to individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders and their families”
•planning and demonstration grants for services for adults
•a national registry for autism spectrum disorders (a topic that evokes more than a few concerns)
• a multimedia campaign about autism (hopefully providing real information rather than further bolstering myths about autism)
• the establishment of an Interdepartmental Autism Coordinating Committee to “coordinate all Federal efforts concerning autism spectrum disorders"
•the establishment of a national network to coordinate research and science on autism
•national training initiatives on autism spectrum disorders.
This session of Congress should act to pass S. 819 and H.R. 2413. Please contact your US Senator and US Representative and ask him or her to co-sponsor the bill.
Autism is a lifelong disability. Currently, educational services are provided for individuals up to the age of 21 under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Afterwards, families find themselves having to constantly reinvent the wheel to find and fund services and supports for their children. After years of education, too many individuals are left without options for employment and housing. The Autism Treatment Acceleration Act will significantly improve the quality of life for individuals on the autism spectrum throughout their life span, from diagnosis and treatment in early childhood, to services and supports for adults.
Please make a difference in the lives of individuals on the autism spectrum and their families and support the Autism Treatment Acceleration Act.