California Lawmakers Unveil Legislative Effort On Autism

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Lawmakers will unveil a comprehensive legislative package of eight bills to address the issues related to the rise in diagnoses of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in California. A press conference will be held at the State Capitol on April 2nd at 11:00am. The bills were inspired by a report issued by the California Legislative Blue Ribbon Commission on Autism.

"This Commission was charged with providing real solutions and recommendations to improve the lives of individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and their families," said Senate pro Tempore Don Perata (D-Oakland), who authored the resolution that created the commission (SCR 51, 2005).

The Commission consists of health experts, family members, business leaders, educators and researchers and is chaired by Sen. Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento).

"The increase in children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder affects families, schools and communities all over California," Steinberg said. "Today this Legislature is responding strongly to the challenges this disorder poses to the State."

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After conducting extensive public hearings and town-hall meetings throughout California, the Commission submitted its findings and recommendations to the Governor and Legislature in its report: An Opportunity to Achieve Real Change for Californians with Autism Spectrum Disorders; September 2007.

"With the broad participation of parents, families, consumers, educators, clinicians, researchers and advocates the Commission's report provides a momentous step in forging new directions for real change," said Dr. Barbara Firestone, Commission Vice-Chair and President & CEO of The Help Group.

The Autism Legislative Package is supported by numerous families and stakeholders such as actor Gary Cole, the parent of a child with ASD.

"The Autism Commission has not only garnered enthusiastic support from stakeholders and autism organizations, but today's California autism legislative package brings real hope into the lives of individuals and families coping with autism throughout our state and nation," said Cole.

Autism now affects 1 in every 150 children in the United States. Nationally, the diagnosis of autism has increased tenfold in the last decade. The CDC has called autism a national public health crisis. The economic impact of autism is estimated to exceed $90 billion annually.

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