Sunday, April 5, 2009

Contact Senators Lincoln and Pryor!

Comprehensive Autism Legislation Introduced in U.S. Congress

Autism Society of America Applauds Inclusion of Lifespan Services and Supports

Today, Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL), Robert Casey (D-PA) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) introduced the Autism Treatment and Acceleration Act of 2009 (ATAA). The Autism Society of America applauds this comprehensive autism legislation focused around enhancing the quality of life for individuals on the autism spectrum and their families. Originally drafted by President Obama as a Senator, the bill includes aspects of legislation introduced in previous sessions of Congress, including the Expanding the Promise of Individuals with Autism Act, sponsored by then-Senator Hillary Clinton.

ASA especially applauds the inclusion of support services for adults on the autism spectrum in this bill. Currently, the federal government provides for educational services until age 21; however, autism is a lifelong disorder, and when the school bus stops coming, individuals and families are often left to fend for themselves. ATAA would create a demonstration project to provide an array of services to adults with autism spectrum disorders, including: postsecondary education; vocational and self-advocacy skills; employment; residential services, supports and housing; nutrition, health and wellness; recreational and social activities; and transportation and personal safety.

The legislation also would provide for the establishment of a national network to strengthen linkages between research and service initiatives at the federal, regional, state and local levels, and facilitate the translation of research on autism into services and treatments that will improve the quality of life for individuals with autism and their families. A national data repository would be created to share emerging data, findings and treatment models.

Other key aspects of the bill include:

  • the establishment of a national training initiative on autism and a technical assistance center to develop and expand interdisciplinary training and continuing education on autism spectrum disorders; and
  • a requirement that health insurers cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders, including Applied Behavior Analysis therapy, assistive communication devices and other effective treatments.

ASA needs your help in order to help pass this critical legislation. Please contact both of your U.S. Senators and ask them to co-sponsor the bill. We’ve composed an e-mail describing all the vital aspects of this bill but it will be especially effective if you add your own story describing how ATAA would help you and your family.

The time to act is now. Please support this important issue today, and urge your friends to take action as well. Together, we can improve the quality of live for individuals with autism across the lifespan.

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