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Steinberg Announces Senate Select Committee on Autism and Related Disorders

SACRAMENTO, Calif., April 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) today announced the establishment of the Senate Select Committee on Autism (ASD) & Related Disorders which will build on the trailblazing work and important contributions of the three-year California Legislative Blue Ribbon Commission on Autism, which was Chaired by Steinberg and ended in November 2008.

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"This Select Committee signals California's ongoing bipartisan commitment to individuals with autism and their families," Steinberg said. "It will provide a legislative forum for research, analysis, deliberations, and outreach on the most pressing issues and concerns facing families who are dealing with ASD."

At a press conference today Steinberg introduced the members of the Select Committee which he will Chair. He also discussed the committee's upcoming activities that will focus on issues related to establishing appropriate health insurance coverage; early identification and treatment; and promoting appropriate employment and housing for individuals with ASD.

The Select Committee will soon establish a series of Task Forces and Working Groups that will work with consumers, advocates and leaders throughout the state to deal with the autism epidemic. The Committee will be working with some of the state's most distinguished leaders who are committed to advancing strong and effective autism public policy.

Feda Almaliti, the mother of a 4 1/2 year old autistic son, spoke about her long but successful fight to receive health insurance coverage for her son's treatments. "The vast majority of families today receive absolutely no treatment for their children's autism from their health plans. I think one very important role of this Senate Select committee will be to hold hearings and conduct research to try to uncover why these families aren't getting the health care they pay for and to ensure solutions are found," Almaliti said.

As part of the proceedings and in recognition of National Autism Awareness Month, Steinberg presented a Legislative Resolution to Dr. Barbara Firestone, President and CEO of The Help Group, declaring April 28th, 2009 The Help Group Autism Awareness Day in California commemorating The Help Group's autism efforts. Dr. Firestone served as the Vice-Chair of the California Legislative Blue Ribbon Commission on Autism.

"Under the visionary leadership of Senator Darrell Steinberg, the California Legislative Blue Ribbon Commission on Autism that I had the privilege to Vice Chair, and now the establishment of the Senate Select Committee on Autism & Related Disorders, send a strong message to California's ongoing commitment to bringing help and hope to individuals with autism and their families," said Dr. Firestone.

Members of the Senate Select Committee:

    Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), Chair
    Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez (D-Shafter)
    Senate Minority Leader Dennis Hollingsworth (R-Murrieta)
    Senator Elaine Alquist (D-San Jose)
    Senator Roy Ashburn (R-Bakersfield)
    Senator Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana)
    Senator Carol Liu (D-Pasadena)
    Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima)
    Senator Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills)
    Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis)

SOURCE The Help Group
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