WASHINGTON, DC (June 4, 2014) -- A coalition of 36 national disabilities organizations, including Autism Speaks, the American Academy of Pediatrics, Easter Seals, The Arc, National Down Syndrome Society, March of Dimes and the Autism Society of America, is urging Congress to pass the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act of 2014 (CARA) before the current law expires September 30.
"With the increasing prevalence of ASD, we cannot scale back our national effort by letting provisions of the Combating Autism Act sunset," the CCD coalition told Congress.
Since it was enacted in 2006 then renewed in 2011, the Combating Autism Act has dedicated $1.735 billion in federal funding for research, prevalence monitoring and training of medical professionals. If not renewed by Congress by September 30, the funding authorizations will expire, jeopardizing the federal government's response to the skyrocketing growth in autism diagnoses.
Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Mike Doyle (D-PA), the co-chairs of the Congressional Autism Caucus, introduced CARA 2014 last month. The bill, (HR.4631), has gained 70 co-sponsors. The bill was amended last week and sent to the House Energy & Commerce Committee for consideration as early as next week.
"While a number of federal ASD efforts were in existence prior to the Combating Autism Act, the law has dramatically increased the number, scope, pace, and coordination of ASD research, surveillance, public education, and professional training efforts," the CCD coalition said. "This comprehensive strategy is accelerating our efforts to better understand this increasingly prevalent developmental disability.
"Because of this law, today there is growing awareness in our schools, doctors’ offices, and communities about ASD and how to best serve individuals and families. Among its many notable achievements are an increase in the proportion of infants screened for ASD, an increase in the proportion of children diagnosed by three from 12 to 18 percent, and continuing improvements to decrease the time between diagnosis and intervention."
The coalition members include:
- American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
- American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
- American Academy of Pediatrics
- American Association on Health and Disability
- American Dance Therapy Association
- American Occupational Therapy Association
- American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
- Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs
- Association of University Centers on Disabilities
- Autism Society of America
- Autism Speaks
- Autism National Committee
- Brain Injury Association of America
- Children’s Hospital Association
- Council for Learning Disabilities
- Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation
- Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund
- Division for Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children
- Epilepsy Foundation
- Easter Seals
- Family Voices
- IDEA Infant Toddler Coordinators Association
- Lutheran Services in America Disability Network
- March of Dimes
- National Alliance on Mental Illness
- National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities
- National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners
- National Down Syndrome Society
- National Respite Coalition
- Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered
- School of Social Work Association of America
- The Advocacy Institute
- The Arc of the United States