WASHINGTON, DC (March 20, 2007) – Autism Speaks, the nation's leading autism advocacy organization, today joined with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO), as they announced the introduction of the Expanding the Promise for Individuals with Autism Act of 2007 (EPIAA), landmark legislation that would dramatically expand federal funding for life-long services for people with autism. The EPIAA would authorize approximately $350 million in new federal funding – above and beyond all existing federal dollars – for key programs related to treatments, interventions and services for both children and adults with autism.
Among the EPIAA's key elements are the authorization of a task force – which will include significant representation from the autism community – that will report to Congress and the Executive Branch on the state of evidence-based biomedical and behavioral treatments and services for both children and adults with autism, including identifying gaps in applied research on such treatments, interventions and services. It would also mandate a GAO study on service provision and financing.
EPIAA would also authorize a variety of grants: $20 million in annual demonstration grants for the coverage of treatments, interventions and services; $20 million in annual planning and demonstration grants for services for adults with autism; $10 million in grants in FY09 (growing to $20 million by FY12) for the expansion of access to immediate post-diagnosis care; $13.4 million annually in training grants for the University Centers of Excellence for Developmental Disabilities for training, technical assistance and additional services for individuals with autism and their families; and $6 million in annual grants to protection and advocacy systems to better meet the needs of families facing autism and other developmental disabilities, including legal representation.
“EPIAA represents a critical next step in establishing an appropriate federal response to the urgent national health crisis of autism,” said Bob Wright, co-founder of Autism Speaks. “We thank Senators Clinton and Allard for their leadership in introducing this legislation, and for recognizing that the federal government must do much more to help people with autism get the comprehensive services they need and deserve.”
“This is an important and compassionate piece of legislation for many reasons, but perhaps most of all because it remembers those who are most frequently forgotten and that is the adults, be they 22 or 72, who are struggling daily with the challenges of autism," added Jon Shestack, Autism Speaks board member and co-founder of Cure Autism Now (CAN). “The EPIAA will make dramatic and real change in the lives of thousands of Americans with autism and their families.”
Autism is a complex brain disorder that inhibits a person's ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by extreme behavioral challenges. Autism Spectrum Disorders are diagnosed in one in 150 children in the United States, affecting four times as many boys as girls. The diagnosis of autism has increased tenfold in the last decade. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called autism a national public health crisis whose cause and cure remain unknown.
ABOUT AUTISM SPEAKS
Autism Speaks is dedicated to increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders, to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and cure for autism, and to advocating for the needs of affected families. It was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Bob Wright is Chairman and CEO of NBC Universal and Vice Chairman, General Electric. Autism Speaks has merged with both the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) and Cure Autism Now (CAN), bringing together the nation's three leading autism advocacy organizations. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit www.autismspeaks.org.