Autism One Pager 9/26/08
Autism Treatment Acceleration Act of 2008
Autism is an increasingly common developmental disorder that profoundly impacts our nation’s
children and families. Autism is characterized by impaired social interaction, problems with verbal and
nonverbal communication, and unusual, repetitive, or severely limited activities and interests. Experts
estimate that one out of every 150 Americans will have some for of autism. Males are four times more
likely to have autism than females. Affecting children and families physically, psychologically, socially,
financially, and relationally, autism is often a major factor contributing to severe family financial
difficulties, marital and family disruption, parental overburden that may lead to neglect and other
developmental delays in other siblings, as well as educational and employment challenges throughout the
autistic persons life cycle. Autism is the most common condition in a group of developmental disorders
known as the autism spectrum disorders (ASDs).
While there is no known cure for autism, there are behavioral and educational treatment
approaches that may reduce some of the challenges associated with the condition. Behavioral
interventions may help to lessen disruptive behaviors, and education can teach self-help skills that allow
for greater independence. But just as there is no one symptom or behavior that identifies individuals with
ASD, there is no single treatment that will be effective for all people on the spectrum. Individuals can
learn to function within the confines of ASD and use the positive aspects of their condition to their
benefit, but it is believed that treatment must begin as early as possible and be tailored to the child's
unique strengths, weaknesses and needs.
In support of researchers, clinicians, and families who are working to find a treatment or cure
ASD, Senator Obama and the autism community have united behind the “Autism Treatment Acceleration
Act of 2008” This legislation authorizes federal funding in order to:
1. Create and evaluate Autism Care Centers, through a demonstration project to develop a national
network of comprehensive treatment facilities that provide a full array of medical, behavioral,
mental health, educational and family care services to individuals and families in a single
2. Establish an ASD Coordinating Committee, consisting of representatives from relevant
governmental agencies, researchers, and the public, to coordinate government activities relating
3. Establish a national autism translational “Research to Services” network for the purposes of
leveraging and enhancing the autism treatment and service capacity of federal, regional, state and
local agencies and integrating regional, state and local agencies as fully as possible into national
4. Create a “National Center for Project Access” to provide training and technical assistance to
frontline autism service providers and enhance program evaluation support.
5. Establish a population-based ASD case registry that will facilitate the understanding of the root
causes, rates, and trends of ASD.
6. Implement a grants program directed toward public and private nonprofit entities for the purpose
of carrying out multimedia campaigns to increase public education and awareness about healthy
developmental milestones for infants and children that may assist early identification of signs and
symptoms of ASD.
7. Require that insurers provide coverage for the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders and the
treatment of autism spectrum disorders in connection with group health plans.