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Calls to Action

Autism Speaks Lauds Congressmen Larson, Jones on Introduction of ‘Caring For Military Kids With Autism Act’

NEW YORK, NY (June 22, 2011) Autism Speaks, the nation's largest autism science and advocacy organization, today applauded Congressmen John Larson (CT-1) and Walter Jones (NC-3) for introducing bipartisan legislation that would assure military families receive necessary therapies for dependents who have autism.

The legislation would clarify that TRICARE –the Department of Defense's (DoD) health care program for members of the uniformed services and their families –covers medically necessary autism therapies, such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA,) for dependents of both active duty and retired service members who have autism.

The bill was introduced today by Representatives Larson and Jones as the ‘Caring for Military Kids with Autism Act.’

“Autism Speaks commends Congressmen Larson and Jones for their commitment to individuals with autism and their families, and for making autism insurance coverage a legislative priority, especially for military families,” said Peter Bell, Autism Speaks executive vice president of programs and services. “Families across the country are literally going broke trying to provide their children with the therapies they need and deserve. The fact that our military families, who serve to protect our freedom and security, could be put in this situation is shameful.”

Bell also called on Congress to support funding for the DoD’s Autism Research Program in the FY 2012 federal budget that starts October 1. Research funded through DoD-ARP is peer-reviewed, benefits from the direct input of consumer advocates, and is targeted to the most innovative, promising research in the field.

In addition, he urged quick Congressional action on the bipartisan Combating Autism Reauthorization Act (CARA)which would renew federal funding support for critical autism research and treatment programs for another three years. Sponsored by Senators Robert Menendez (NJ) and Mike Enzi (WY) and in the House by Representatives Chris Smith (NJ-4) and Mike Doyle (PA-14), CARA would reauthorize provisions in the Combating Autism Act of 2006 which will sunset on September 30.

To learn more about Autism Votes, an initiative of Autism Speaks focused on federal and state legislative advocacy, please visit www.autismvotes.org.

About Autism
Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that inhibits a person's ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by behavioral challenges. Autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed in one in 110 children in the United States, and one in 70 boys. The prevalence of autism has increased 600 percent in the past two decades. 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 North America’s largest autism science and advocacy organization. Since its inception in 2005, Autism Speaks has made enormous strides, committing over $160 million to research and developing innovative new resources for families. The organization is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. In addition to funding research, Autism Speaks has created resources and programs including the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network, Autism Speaks’ Autism Genetic Resource Exchange and several other scientific and clinical programs. Notable awareness initiatives include the establishment of the annual United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day on April 2, which Autism Speaks celebrates through its Light it Up Blue initiative. Also, Autism Speaks award-winning “Learn the Signs” campaign with the Ad Council has received over $272 million in donated media. Autism Speaks’ family resources include the Autism Video Glossary, a 100 Day Kit for newly-diagnosed families, a School Community Tool Kit and a community grant program. Autism Speaks has played a critical role in securing federal legislation to advance the government’s response to autism, and has successfully advocated for insurance reform to cover behavioral treatments in 26 states thus far, with bills pending in an additional 12 states. Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 80 cities across North America. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit www.autismspeaks.org.

About the Co-Founders
Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Bob Wright is Senior Advisor at Lee Equity Partners and Chairman and CEO of the Palm Beach Civic Association. He served as Vice Chairman of General Electric; and as the Chief Executive Officer of NBC and NBC Universal for more than twenty years. He also serves on the boards of the Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation, Mission Product, LLC, EMI Group Global Ltd and the New York Presbyterian Hospital. Suzanne Wrightis a Trustee Emeritus of Sarah Lawrence College, her alma mater. Suzanne has received numerous awards, the Women of Distinction Award from Palm Beach Atlantic University, the CHILD Magazine Children’s Champions Award, Luella Bennack Volunteer Award, Spirit of Achievement award by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine's National Women’s Divisionand The Women of Vision Award from the Weizmann Institute of Science. In 2008, the Wrights were named to the Time 100 Heroes and Pioneers category, a list of the most influential people in the world, for their commitment to global autism advocacy. They have also received numerous awards such as the first ever Double Helix Award for Corporate Leadership, NYU Child Advocacy Award, Castle Connolly National Health Leadership Award and The American Ireland Fund Humanitarian Award. In May of 2010 they received Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degrees from St. John’s University in Queens and delivered the commencement address as the first married couple to be bestowed such an honor.