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Autism CARES Endorsed By Leading Disabilities Organizations

WASHINGTON, DC (June 12, 2014) -- The Consortium of Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), a coalition of 110 national disabilities organizations, has announced its support for Autism CARES, the amended version of legislation before Congress that would preserve federal funding for autism activites over the next five years. The bill has been introduced in the Senate while the House version has already cleared committee and is headed to a floor vote with 79 co-sponsors.

"CCD supports this compromise bill and urges the House and Senate to move the bill forward quickly and not let this law expire," the consortium announced in a statement issued by its Autism Task Force co-chairs from The Arc, Autism Speaks, the National Disability Rights Coalition, the Association of University Centers on Disabilities, and the National Respite Coalition.

Autism CARES would reauthorize the Combating Autism Act which expires September 30. Enacted in 2006 and reauthorized in 2011, the law has dedicated over $1.7 billion in federal funding for autism research, prevalence monitoring and training of medical professionals. 

Autism CARES would authorize $260 million a year in continued funding for five years for the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In addition to the new name, the amended bill would:

  • Establish a National Autism Spectrum Disorder Initiative, requiring the HHS Secretary to designate an existing agency official to serve as the key point person in coordinating federal autism efforts and ensuring that these efforts are not unnecessarily duplicative
  • Direct HHS to prepare a report to Congress regarding the needs of young adults and transitioning youth with an autism spectrum disorder or other developmental disability, and the challenges they face transitioning from school-based services to adult services
  • Reform the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) by expanding its role in monitoring and developing a strategic plan for autism spectrum disorder, and by requiring additional non-federal members, including at least two individuals on the autism spectrum, at least two parents or legal guardians of individuals on the autism spectrum, and at least two representatives of leading research, service, and advocacy organizations.