On Monday, September 30, 2019, President Donald Trump signed the “Autism CARES Act” into law. This important bill provides $1.8 billion in funding for autism programs and research at the Center for Disease Control (CDC), The National Institutes of Health and the Health Resources and Services Administration.
CNN reports that the CDC about one in 59 children has been identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and it is about four times more common in boys than girls. ASD is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges.
The bill was sponsored by representatives Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and Mike Doyle (D-Pa.).
“The problem of ‘aging out’ of services is a real hurdle every parent or caretaker of a child with autism inevitably faces…All children grow up and become adults, and children with autism then lose their education services. But autism is a lifetime neurological disorder, and adults with autism continue to need their services.” Smith, R-N.J said in a statement.
Because of Autism CARES, scientific developments have
- Set a reliable diagnosis age of 18-24 months
- Established that timely interventions makes a lifetime of difference
- Identified co-morbidities
- Increased understanding of biological causes of autism
- Identified genes and possible medication targets
- Developed early career autism researchers
The funding, which backs autism research and autism-related support programs, will also prioritize grants for rural and underserved areas.
Smith’s passion for the bill is backed by New Jersey’s higher-than-average autism rate, with 1 in 34 children diagnosed with the disorder. While the reason for that high rate isn’t known, one explanation could be the state’s robust screening and diagnostic services. Smith has openly advocated for the autism community since 1997.
We hope the re-passing of this bill will help establish more resources for adults on the spectrum as well as rural and underserved communities in need.