WASHINGTON, DC (March 11, 2008) -- Autism Speaks Co-Founders Bob and Suzanne Wright joined other families with children who have autism and other disabilities at a press conference today in support of Senator Christopher Dodd's (D-CT) new bill creating tax-free Disability Savings Accounts to help families save for the long-term needs of their disabled members. Under Sen. Dodd's plan, the DSA accounts would be simple and inexpensive to open and manage and could be used for a broad array of the expenses associated with autism and other disabilities – ranging from intervention services to out-of-pocket medical expenses and respite care.
View highlights from the press conference
YouTube Video ~ 3 minutes
(Click here for a photo gallery from the event.)
The Disability Savings Accounts would, for the first time, provide recognition in the tax policy of the United States for the special savings needs of individuals and families with autism and other disabilities. While parents are permitted by federal tax law to save through tax-preferred 529 accounts for their children to attend colleges and universities, there is no similar provision for the futures of children with disabilities facing the struggles of adulthood.
“This important legislation is designed to help individuals with disabilities live full and productive lives for all their years,” said Dodd. “It provides families with an important tool to save the money they need for their unique needs and provide for their children long after they are gone.”
“Senator Dodd was an original co-sponsor of the Combating Autism Act and has long been a champion for individuals with disabilities and their families,” said Bob Wright. “We commend him for launching the legislative process to create these vitally important savings accounts, which will reduce an unreasonable financial burden for millions of families and end discrimination against individuals with disabilities in the federal tax code. Parents can save, tax-free, to send their child to Harvard. They should be able to save in the same way to help every child meet his or her full potential.”
“Families are literally going broke trying to provide their children with the services and therapies they need and deserve,” added Suzanne Wright. “Disability savings accounts would allow these families to save for future needs as their children grow into adulthood and face new sets of challenges.”
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 and treatments for autism, and to advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. It was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Bob Wright is Vice Chairman, General Electric, and served as chief executive officer of NBC for more than twenty years. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit www.autismspeaks.org.