WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today introduced a resolution to recognize the month of April as National Autism Awareness Month to increase public awareness of the need to support individuals with autism and the family members and medical professionals who care for individuals with autism.
“The need to recognize, understand and study autism has never been more important,” said Senator Casey. “With a near epidemic number of individuals affected, we must be vigilant in our continued support of those with autism and those who care for them.”
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that results in difficulties with communication and social interaction, as well as repetitive behaviors. It affects individuals differently, mildly affecting some and significantly disabling others.
The CDC announced new figures today showing a 23% increase in cases of autism from 2006 to 2008.
With no cure currently available, the number of autistic individuals will continue to grow. Senator Casey strongly supported the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act of 2011, bipartisan legislation he cosponsored to continue critically important research on autism.
Senator Casey has also introduced the ABLE Act, legislation that would allow parents of children with a disability such as autism to set up tax advantaged savings accounts to help provide for long term care.
The full text of the resolution is below:
Title: Supporting the designation of April 2012 as National Autism Awareness Month.
Whereas autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders known as pervasive developmental disorders, commonly known as autism spectrum disorders;
Whereas autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that results in difficulties with communication and social interaction, as well as repetitive behaviors;
Whereas autism affects individuals differently, mildly affecting some and significantly disabling others.
Whereas according to a 2012 report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of 2008, autism affects an estimated 1 in every 88 children in the United States, including 1 in 54 boys, which is a 23 percent increase from 2006;
Whereas autism is 4 times more likely to be diagnosed in boys than in girls;
Whereas autism can affect anyone regardless of race, ethnicity, or other factors;
Whereas the lifetime incremental cost of caring for a person with autism is $3,200,000;
Whereas the cost nationally of caring for persons affected by autism is estimated to be at least $90,000,000,000 per year;
Whereas the number of autistic adults grows daily and, absent fundamental breakthroughs, will continue to increase in the years and decades ahead;
Whereas it is both a moral and fiscal imperative that services be made available that maximize the potential of each unique adult living with autism to contribute to the greatest extent possible to the society and economy of the United States;
Whereas it is well established that early intervention can improve outcomes by significantly improving the cognitive, language, and adaptive skills of people with autism;
Whereas the promise of early intervention is not being realized as close to 80 percent of adults with autism, even those without an intellectual disability, are unemployed and living at home with relatives rather than independently;
Whereas a variety of physical, medical, and mental-health issues may accompany autism, resulting in marked functional impairment in all activities of daily living;
Whereas these conditions may include epilepsy, Down syndrome, fragile X syndrome, gastrointestinal problems, immune-system disorders, sleep disturbance, sensory integration dysfunction, and metabolic disorders;
Whereas many individuals on the autism spectrum face co-occurring mental-health challenges, including anxiety, obsessive compulsions, and depression;
Whereas individuals living with autism are highly valued and deserve the highest level of dignity and acceptance by society; and
Whereas April 2012 would be an appropriate month to designate as National Autism Awareness Month to increase public awareness of the need to support individuals with autism and the family members and medical professionals who care for individuals with autism: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Senate—
(1) expresses support designating April 2012 as National Autism Awareness Month;
(2) recognizes and commends both individuals living with autism and the parents and relatives of those individuals for the sacrifice and dedication in providing for the special needs of autistic individuals and for absorbing financial costs for specialized education, medical clinical interventions, and support services;
(3) recognizes that—
(A) autism is a major public health crisis that is taking an enormous toll on millions of families who need answers that can come only through further research;
(B) meeting the education, employment, and service-provision needs of individuals on the autism spectrum is a clear and compelling public policy issue that requires a rapid national response; and
(C) individuals and families are desperate to access services that are, at this point, inadequate to meet the current and growing needs of individuals with autism;
(4) stresses the need to begin early intervention services soon after a child has been diagnosed with autism, noting that there is a strong consensus that intensive treatment as soon as possible following diagnosis can significantly improve cognitive functioning, language, and adaptive behavior, reduce the cost of lifetime care, and yield the most positive life outcomes for children with autism;
(A) the importance of assistance in the areas of comprehensive early intervention, health, recreation, job training, employment, housing, transportation, and early, primary, and secondary education; and
(B) that with access to, and assistance with, this type of service and support, individuals with autism can live rich, full, and productive lives;
(6) recognizes that services for transitioning youth and adults with autism are an especially pressing need, as are services that enhance the safety of individuals with autism of any age; and
(7) recognizes that by providing adequate service and support at crucial points in life, adults with autism can become tax-paying citizens with productive and rewarding lives.