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Congress Reacts to New 1 in 50 Prevalence Report

March 22, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC (March 22, 2013) -- Key Congressional champions for increased autism research and services say a new federal survey which found a 1 in 50 autism prevalence rate increases the urgency for a national strategy to address the epidemic.

In a telephone survey of 100,000 parents of children aged 6 to 17, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found a 1 in 50 prevalence rate. The report indicates the nation's prevalence rate may be higher than the official 1 in 88 rate, but does not replace that finding.

"The need for a comprehensive federal response to combat autism remains clear," said Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), the Senate sponsor of the $693 million reauthorization of the Combating Autism Act enacted in 2011. "These new numbers further corroborate what other studies have shown: there is a desperate need for us to redouble our efforts to help these children learn and develop into happy, productive adults."

Menendez pledged to support continued federal funding for research on new diagnostic methods and therapies.

Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA), who co-chairs the bi-partisan Congressional Autism Caucus, said the CDC report was "an urgent call for action by the federal government to address this growing epidemic. There’s just no avoiding the conclusion that it’s imperative that the federal government dedicate more resources to diagnosing and treating children with autism disorders.

“This isn’t a political issue," Doyle said. "There’s been strong bipartisan, bicameral support for helping individuals with autism – ranging from additional research to additional training of health care and education professionals.  All of that requires more federal funding." 

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), in a blog pubished in The Jewish Week, said, "Autism levels are growing and our government plays a key role in the solutions. We need to help support better scientific and medical understanding regarding autism. We also need to work every day to improve opportunities for people who already have Autism to get needed therapies, school supports and transitional services so they can get into jobs and have lives of dignity and respect."