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California Lawmakers Unveil Legislative Effort on Autism

Wednesday, April 2, 2008 General News J E 4
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SACRAMENTO, Calif., April 2, 2008 Lawmakerswill unveil a comprehensive legislative package of eight bills to address theissues related to the rise in diagnoses of children with autism spectrumdisorders (ASD) in California. A press conference will be held at the StateCapitol on April 2nd at 11:00am. The bills were inspired by a report issued bythe California Legislative Blue Ribbon Commission on Autism.

"This Commission was charged with providing real solutions andrecommendations to improve the lives of individuals with autism spectrumdisorders (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, businessleaders, educators and researchers and is chaired by Sen. Darrell Steinberg(D-Sacramento).

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

After conducting extensive public hearings and town-hall meetingsthroughout California, the Commission submitted its findings andrecommendations to the Governor and Legislature in its report: An Opportunityto Achieve Real Change for Californians with Autism Spectrum Disorders;September 2007. You can read the report at:http://senweb03.senate.ca.gov/autism/index.html. For a complete list of thebills: http://www.sen.ca.gov/Steinberg.

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

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

"The Autism Commission has not only garnered enthusiastic support fromstakeholders and autism organizations, but today's California autismlegislative package brings real hope into the lives of individuals andfamilies 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 economicimpact of autism is estimated to exceed $90 billion annually.

SOURCE California Legislative Blue Ribbon Commission on Autism
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