Autism One Pager 9/26/08 1 Autism Treatment Acceleration Act of 2008 The Problem 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. The Solution 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 location. 2. Establish an ASD Coordinating Committee, consisting of representatives from relevant governmental agencies, researchers, and the public, to coordinate government activities relating to ASD. 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 efforts. 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.
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