Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Legislative Update

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Legislative Update

Article excerpt

New autism legislation pending

Chris Smith (R4), a congressman from New Jersey, is sponsoring legislation in Congress that if passed will provide funds to gather and compile national autism statistics. According to Carla Israel, family outreach coordinator of Mid-Jersey Cares for Special Children, a regional early intervention collaborative in New Jersey, knowing how many people have autism, who these people are, who is at risk for autism, and tracking diagnosis trends can facilitate the design of successful prevention strategies and, eventually, aid in finding a cure. Included in Representative Smith's research bill, The Autism Statistics Surveillance, Research, and Epidemiology Act--HR 274, are the following provisions:

* Over the next five years, $37,500,000 will be appropriated to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to create the National Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disabilities Program, which will be charged with monitoring the prevalence of autism at the national level; assisting in the development of state autism surveillance programs; providing education and training for health professionals to improve treatments for autism; and developing expertise in one or more areas of autism research.

* An independent public and governmental advisory committee made up of government experts, parents and clinicians will report annually to Congress on the progress of the Program.

* The CDC will also become a national clearinghouse for autism research and policy.

To help this legislation pass, Ms. Israel recommends voters urge their state senator or House representative to sign on as bill cosponsors by contacting them and explaining the importance of having national statistics on autism. She also recommends attaching a picture of the person they know with autism to the letter.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Contact your state representatives and senators at the following Web sites: http://www.house.gov;http://www.senate.gov; or obtain more information by calling the Capitol switchboard: (202) 224-3121.

Government Web sites soon to be accessible to everyone

Legislation known as Section 508, which was signed into law by President Clinton in 1998, will require that all federal Web sites produced after August 7, 2000, be made accessible to people with disabilities, namely people with hearing or visual impairments. …

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