Representatives Doyle and Smith Introduce Bill in House of Representatives to Meet Increasing Needs for Autism Services

April 17, 2007

SILVER SPRING, MD (April 17, 2007)-The Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) applauds Representatives Mike Doyle (PA), Chris Smith (NJ), Elliot Engel (NY), and Chip Pickering (MS) for introducing a bipartisan bill today that addresses the urgent needs of thousands of individuals with autism spectrum disorder and their families for effective treatments, interventions, services, and supports. An identical bill was introduced in the Senate by Senators Hillary Clinton (NY) and Wayne Allard (CO) on February 7, 2007.

According to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of autism has reached epidemic proportions, now affecting one in every 150 children. While continued research efforts are essential to better understand the growth in autism spectrum disorders, there are immediate needs for community services and supports.

"Clearly from the information we get from our University Centers and the families they serve, our current service system is unprepared to meet the growing needs of individuals with autism and their families," stated George Jesien, PhD, Executive Director of AUCD. "This bill addresses the everyday need for services, supports, and interventions that families are seeking throughout our country and builds on the recently passed Combating Autism Act which focuses on the important research that needs to take place for us to understand this developmental disability."

There are pressing needs for trained professionals to better serve children and adults with autism with the latest evidence-based information and effective practices. Royal Walker, Jr., JD, AUCD Board President and Associate Director of the Institute for Disability Studies at the University of Southern Mississippi stated, "This bill recognizes the tremendous importance of disseminating the latest scientific findings for effective interventions and supports and the need to build capacity by training those who now and in the future will work with children and adults."

The "Expanding the Promise to Individuals with Autism Act" greatly helps to address these issues by providing immediate services and the development of evidence-based treatment interventions, services, and supports for children and adults. The membership of AUCD includes a network of 67 University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities located in every US state and territory. These University Centers provide research, education, and service to further independence, productivity, and quality of life for individuals with developmental disabilities, including autism. University Centers collaborate with stakeholders in states to identify and address training needs in creative and effective ways. As the prevalence of autism has risen, University Centers have initiated many activities to help meet the growing need for children, adults, and families. This bill builds upon these efforts by expanding the capacity of University Centers to focus on interdisciplinary training of professionals and providers in the area of autism, provide technical assistance, and disseminate information on effective community-based treatment, interventions, and services.

AUCD urges the Congressional leadership to support quick passage of this bill in the 110th Congress.

The Association of University Centers on Disabilities, located in Silver Spring, MD, is a national, nonprofit organization that promotes and supports the national network of interdisciplinary centers advancing policy and practices through research, education, leadership, and services for and with individuals with developmental and other disabilities, their families, and communities.