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Reps. Smith and Doyle, Autism Society of America Push Landmark Legislation on World Autism Awareness Day
Date:4/1/2008

Autism Caucus Co-Chairs and Leading Grassroots Autism Association Push for Services Worldwide

BETHESDA, Md., April 1, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The United Nations has designated April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day. To mark this historic occasion, the Autism Society of America, the World Autism Organization and the Co-Chairs of the bipartisan Congressional Coalition for Autism Research and Education (C.A.R.E.), Rep. Chris Smith and Rep. Mike Doyle, will hold a press conference on the Cannon Terrace to build support for critical legislation that would provide needed autism services in the U.S. and around the world.

An estimated 30 million people in the world have an autism spectrum disorder, 1.5 million in America alone. Every day in America, 60 families learn their child has autism. These families face challenges of care, support, education, financial hardship and medical and health care issues that make autism a national public health issue. Though there is no cure, autism is treatable and individuals with autism have tremendous potential.

"We have an epidemic on our hands and we need to immediately and aggressively address it on every front," Smith said.

Members of the House of Representatives are working so that the U.S. will become the first nation to initiate an effort to establish a global autism assistance program. In February 2008, a bi-partisan group of legislators joined Congressmen Smith and Doyle in introducing the Global Autism Assistance Act, (HR 5446). This landmark legislation will establish a global health and education grant program related to autism spectrum disorders and provide support to families, educational institutions, clinics and medical centers in developing nations.

"We will know we have succeeded when people on the autism spectrum become an accepted part of the human condition," said ASA President and CEO Lee Grossman. "While this goal may take a generation to achieve, the global community should aim for nothing less, and it is imperative that we begin to work toward that goal today."

The Global Autism Assistance Act authorizes $10 million over three years through a grant program for service providers and advocacy groups for children with autism specifically in countries with weak healthcare infrastructure to raise autism awareness, and creates new ways to share American expertise and advancements in the diagnoses and treatment of autism.

"My colleagues and I in the Congressional Autism Caucus are deeply committed to ensuring that the federal government does everything it can to address the challenges presented by autism around the world. Millions of families need and deserve our help," Doyle said.

The Members also plan to promote the Expanding the Promise of Individuals with Autism Act (HR 1881), announced last year by Reps. Doyle and Smith along with actor Bradley Whitford of West Wing fame. The bill would provide additional resources for those affected by autism in the U.S., increasing access to effective therapies and essential support services for people with autism, as well as providing critical funding for training, protection, and advocacy.

WHO:

Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ)

Representative Mike Doyle (D-PA)

Lee Grossman, Autism Society of America, President and CEO

Jeff Sell, World Autism Organization, Vice President/Autism Society of America, Director of Chapters and Membership

Randall Rutta, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs, Easter Seals

WHEN:

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

2:00 p.m.

WHERE:

Cannon Terrace

(between Cannon and Longworth House Office Buildings)

Independence Ave. SE

Washington, DC

Note: Rain Location is Rm. 411 Cannon House Office Building

CONTACT:

Autism Society of America: Carin Yavorcik - 301-657-0881 x115

Rep. Smith: Ryan Goodwin - 202-225-3765

Rep. Doyle: Matt Dinkle - 202-225-2135

About Autism

Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person's ability to communicate and interact with others. Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a "spectrum disorder" that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. There is no known single cause for autism, but increased awareness and funding can help families today.

About ASA:

ASA, the nation's leading grassroots autism organization, exists to improve the lives of all affected by autism. We do this by increasing public awareness about the day-to-day issues faced by people on the spectrum, advocating for appropriate services for individuals across the lifespan, and providing the latest information regarding treatment, education, research and advocacy. For more information, visit http://www.autism-society.org.


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SOURCE Autism Society of America
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