Autism effects on average 1 in 110 children in the U.S. While ASD doesn’t discriminate across, race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status, it seems that it is 4 to 5 times more likely to occur in boys than in girls. According to the CDC, they estimate that roughly 730,000 people between the ages of 0 and 21 will have an ASD. Making the announcement by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) today that programs authorized under the original Combating Autism Act (CAA) will continue for an additional three years, promising for children with autism and their parents. It is estimated that 48,000 children across NY suffer from Autism, that’s more than pediatric autism, diabetes, and AIDS combined.
Late Monday night the U.S. Senate unanimously approved legislation to combat autism. The House of Representatives had already passed the bill. It is now up to President Obama to sign the bill into law, something he has said he will do.
The original and now continuing CAA provides for autism surveillance programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as intervention and training programs at the Health Resources and Services Administration. It allows for the continuation of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC), which is responsible for advising the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) on autism polices, coordinating the federal response to autism and developing the annual strategic plan for autism research. These programs have been instrumental in advancing research on the causes, diagnosis and treatments of autism. The original CAA was set to expire on September 30.
Senator Gillibrand, a sponsor of the bill says this about autism in her press release:
“Cases of autism are increasing at an alarming rate.” “It is vital that we invest in new research that will benefit the lives of millions. We know that early intervention is one of the best ways to ensure a child’s long term success. This legislation will help provide essential services, treatment and support for families.”
Jodi Mallery of WNY has a son who was diagnosed with ASD shortly before his second birthday. She and her husband see firsthand the struggles of having a child with autism. Mrs. Mallery agreed to answer some questions about the possible new legislation.
Q: What are the aspects of the bill you see as promising?
Mrs. Mallery: It is getting on top of the Autism research and working to get proper screening and diagnosis out there, along with the intervention.
Q: How do you think early detection benefits a child with autism?
Mrs. Mallery: Early detection has a ton of benefits to a child with autism. It helps with getting early intervention involved to get your child on the right track. My son Tyler was diagnosed 1 month before he turned 2 years old. We received early intervention, OT, PT, speech, etc., and it has helped out tremendously. Today he is a bright 6th grade student and has maintained a 95 average or higher. We are still working on his social skills and transitioning, but he is doing amazing.
I feel that early detection is in the upmost importance and getting down to why there is a rise in numbers for people being diagnosed with autism and what causes it. Everyone has their opinions of what causes it but there is no sound proof. The research needs to be done to help and not come out to what causes it until they are 100% certain as to why.
Mrs. Mallery says having a child with autism taught her a lot. “Granted when I found out that Tyler was autistic, I could have cried for weeks. I had to learn patience throughout the whole process. Teaching him words again, appropriate ways to show he is upset, transitioning; divert his attention when he started stimming, etc. It was a hard road but I wouldn’t change the challenges that were put in front of me. The one thing I remember is if it wasn’t for the workers at the day care he went to, I would have received a late diagnosis. To this day he is golden hearted, fun-loving, creative, musical, and a movie critic, etc.”
President Obama is expected to sign the bill by Friday. The signing of the bill will hopefully ease the anxiety that many families here in WNY and across the nation experience when they receive the diagnosis of autism. With the measures that the legislation is putting forward and advances that the research is making in finding a cause and hopefully a cure, this legislatin gives many families hope.
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