(NEW YORK, NY – December 7, 2006) – Leadership of Autism Speaks and Cure Autism Now, nonprofit organizations dedicated to increasing awareness of autism and raising money to fund autism research, today praised members of the United States Senate for swift passage of the Combating Autism Act (S. 843). The bill was passed yesterday in the United States House of Representatives and now moves to the President's desk to be signed into law.
The bill authorizes nearly 1 billion dollars over the next five years to combat autism through research, screening, early detection and early intervention. The new legislation will increase federal spending on autism by at least 50 percent. It includes provisions relating to the diagnosis and treatment of persons with Autism Spectrum Disorders, and expands and intensifies biomedical research on autism, including an essential focus on possible environmental causes. Autism is now diagnosed in 1 in 166 children according to the Centers for Disease Control.
“The passage of this landmark single-disease legislation signals the federal government's declaration of war on the epidemic of autism,” said Jon Shestack, co-founder of Cure Autism Now and Bob Wright, co-founder of Autism Speaks and chairman and CEO of NBC Universal in a joint statement. “ Seeing this bill become law will be the next best thing to finding a cure.”
The Senate bill was sponsored by Senators Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Christopher Dodd (D-CT). The bill has the support of all major autism advocacy groups. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called autism a national public health crisis whose cause and cure remain unknown.
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 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 AND CURE AUTISM NOW
Autism Speaks and Cure Autism Now are dedicated to increasing awareness of the growing autism epidemic and to raising money to fund scientists who are searching for a cure. Cure Autism Now was founded in 1995 by Jonathan Shestack and Portia Iversen, parents of a child with autism. Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, grandparents of a child with autism. Bob Wright is Vice Chairman and Executive Officer, General Electric, and Chairman and CEO, NBC Universal. Autism Speaks and Cure Autism Now (CAN) recently announced plans to combine operations, bringing together the two leading organizations 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. Together the organizations have awarded autism research grants valued at more than 80 million dollars. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit www.autismspeaks.org. To learn more about Cure Autism Now, please visit www.cureautismnow.org.