Shared from M&L Special Needs Planning, LLC.

As an organization that works to serve individuals with disabilities, we feel 100% confident in stating that, as a country, we need to pay more attention to autism. Specifically, we need to work hard to support (i.e. fund) organizations and programs that research and monitor autism, as well as provide interventions and supports to individuals with autism.

Current data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that autism affects 1 in 59 American children. Aside from this staggering number, there are a couple of other important facts that the CDC thinks you should know: it occurs in all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups. It is 4 times more common among males than females, with the exact causes of autism unknown. It affects about 1 to 2 percent of the population in North America, Asia and Europe. And, if you look at historical CDC data on the prevalence of autism in American children, you will notice that it is on the rise.

Consider this: in 2010, it was reported that 1 in 110 children had autism. In 2012, it was identified as 1 in 88. Current CDC data puts that number at 1 in 59. Since 2006, the number of children with autism in the United States has increased by 600%.

In 2006, the autism community saw its first significant (and sorely needed) injection of federal funds into efforts to learn about, educate, and serve individuals with autism. This legislation, called Combating Autism, was signed into law by George W. Bush. This bill (the name would later be changed to the Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education and Support (CARES) Act) was intended to be the “primary source of federal funding for autism research, services, training and monitoring[i]”.  According to Autism Speaks, the Autism Cares Act and its subsequent reauthorizations (2011, 2014) has resulted in more than 3 billion dollars has been allocated to government agencies (National Institute of Health, CDC, and Health Resources and Services Administration) for the sole purpose of autism services/research.

Unfortunately, this bill is rapidly approaching its sunset provision – if not reauthorized by September 30, 2019 all activities under this legislation will cease. Fortunately, earlier this summer members of the House of Representatives pledged their support to this legislation. On July 25, they unanimously voted to reauthorize and pass the Autism Cares Act of 2019.

Autism Cares Act of 2019

The passage the Autism Cares Act of 2019 through the house brings the legislation one step closer to being signed into law, one step closer to providing another 1.8 billion in funding and another five years of autism research, detection, intervention and services. Along with the reauthorization of funding, this bill also has a number of changes and additions.

As reported in Disability Scoop, the Autism Cares Act of 2019 has an important change that extends the ages of the individuals with autism being served from childhood, to life long. As writte, “The Phrase ‘across the lifespan’ has been added to several provisions in the bill including sections talking about screening and research on interventions. The bill also requires an increase in the number of self-advocates, parents and autism group representatives on the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee.”

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Although this bill has passed the house, it still needs to approval of the Senate before it is signed into law. The sponsoring Representatives (Rep. Chris Smith and Dem. Mike Doyle) have stated that it is on the fast track in the senate, where it is being sponsored by Senators Mike Enzi and Bob Menedez.

If you are interested in learning more about the Autism Cares Act of 2019, follow this link to access a brief and fact sheet on the legislation provided by Autism Speaks. The above link  also provides advice on how you, as a concerned citizen, can help ensure that the Autism Cares Act of 2019 is signed into law before it expires in September.

If you would like to learn more about services for individuals with disabilities, including financial and life planning, please take a moment to browse our blog and website. We have a blog archive that covers a number of topics relevant to individuals with disabilities and their families, as well as a number of resources for organizations in the disability community.


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