Autism Speaks applauds progress in U.S. House on key funding priorities

House Appropriations bill includes $10 million increase to expand the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network; calls for greater investment in key areas of autism research

July 1 marked an important moment of progress in advocacy efforts to increase the federal investment in autism research and services. The House Appropriations Committee advanced a bill that would, for the first time in over a decade, increase funding to expand the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network. The ADDM Network conducts research on the number and characteristics of children with autism and other developmental disabilities in the US. Currently, the ADDM Network only has enough funding to provide grants to 11 states. This means that the vast majority of the country does not have access to the vital state-level data that ADDM sites produce and which help drive improved access to services and supports for autistic individuals. The $10 million increase in this bill would help expand the Network to more states to provide a better understanding at a local level of autism prevalence, disparities in diagnoses and transition to adulthood.

In this bill, the Committee also made clear to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that greater investments are needed to address significant gaps that exist in autism research. The bill renewed calls from last year’s legislation to increase the amount of research that helps ensure autistic individuals are able to access appropriate services and supports across the life span and to do more to address racial, ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in access to services in the autism community. It also included new language targeting additional areas of needed research focus.

“The $10 million increase in funding for the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, along with the significant call to the National Institutes of Health to increase autism research included in this bill are significant steps forward,” said Stuart Spielman, Senior Vice President for Advocacy at Autism Speaks. “These actions reflect that both committee leadership and members of the House have heard the message from advocates across the country who have asked Congress to address challenges faced by autistic individuals and their families. We are grateful to the committee leaders for including these important provisions and to the Co-Chairs of the Congressional Autism Caucus, Reps. Mike Doyle and Chris Smith, for their tireless work in leading these efforts.”

The bill also included important new language in support of research related to autism and aging at the National Institute of Aging as well as implementation-focused research at institutes throughout the NIH, specifically to look at caregiver-mediated approaches, like caregiver skills training.

The legislation must now be considered by the full House of Representatives. Autism Speaks will continue to strongly advocate for the inclusion of these and other important provisions as the FY23 appropriations process continues in both the House and Senate.