(NEW YORK, NY - August 4, 2006) – Leadership of Autism Speaks, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing awareness of autism and raising money to fund autism research, today applauded last night's passage in the United States Senate of the Combating Autism Act (S. 843) by unanimous consent. The bill authorizes $900 million over the next five years to combat autism through research, screening, intervention and education efforts, almost doubling current federal spending on autism.
The bill was sponsored by Senators Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Christopher Dodd (D-CT), who last night on the Senate floor publicly thanked Autism Speaks Co-founders Bob and Suzanne Wright for their tireless efforts on behalf of the legislation. It was unanimously approved by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) on July 19, and has the support of all major autism groups.
"By passing this landmark single-disease legislation, the Senate has recognized the plight of the thousands of families struggling every day with autism, and has acknowledged autism as a national health care crisis," said Mr. Wright, co-founder of Autism Speaks and chairman and CEO of NBC Universal. "We now must look to the House to pass the bill and get it to the President's desk as soon as possible."
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 166 children, 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 accelerating and funding biomedical research into the causes, prevention, treatments and cure for autism spectrum disorders; to increasing awareness of the nation's fastest growing developmental disorder; and to advocating for the needs of affected families. The legislative agenda of Autism Speaks is to influence public policy and federal funding related to autism spectrum disorders. Autism Speaks is committed to working with other national and regional autism organizations to achieve this goal. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit www.autismspeaks.org.