Autism Speaks Applauds Introduction of the Autism Family Caregivers Act

Today, Representatives Grace Meng (D-NY), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Mike Doyle (D-PA) introduced the Autism Family Caregivers Act. The bill would authorize grants to establish 25 caregiver skills training pilot sites in at least 15 states. The training established under the program would provide caregivers of children with autism and developmental disabilities or delays with evidence-based strategies to improve social communication and behavioral outcomes.

“We are grateful to Rep. Grace Meng for introducing the Autism Family Caregivers Act of 2022 which recognizes the disparities in access to services in communities across the country for children with autism and other developmental disabilities and delays,” said Dr. Andy Shih, Interim Chief Science Officer at Autism Speaks. “By providing caregivers with access to evidence-based resources, the Autism Family Caregivers Act will bring programs to underserved communities and help to create better outcomes for children with autism and other developmental disabilities while also making improvements in the wellbeing of caregivers.”

Caregiver skills training teaches family caregivers how to use everyday routines and home activities to improve the mental and physical well-being of their children, by addressing communication skills, daily living skills, social engagement and behavior management. This evidence-based approach has been implemented around the globe as well as in underserved rural and urban areas in the United States and assists families who may struggle with access to adequate health services and social engagement opportunities.

20 members of the House of Representatives have also sponsored the legislation which is supported by the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities, FamilyVoices, the Autism Society of America, The Arc, the National Council on Severe Autism and the National Down Syndrome Society.

Autism Speaks has partnered with the World Health Organization to implement caregiver skills training programs in more than 30 countries with activities planned or completed in many other communities around the globe. Since 2018, caregiver skills training for caregivers of children with autism or other developmental disabilities and delays have been provided in underserved communities in New York City, Queens, Newark and rural Missouri. Recently, Autism Speaks announced a partnership with the Color of Autism Foundation to bring this innovative practice to Detroit. Programs are also being developed for caregivers in rural South Carolina, Pennsylvania, as well as the Ethiopian / Eritrean communities in the DC, Maryland and Virginia metro area.