Autism CARES Act

President Obama with Suzanne & Bob Wright and state representative signing the Autism CARES Act

The Autism CARES Act of 2019 was signed into law on September 30, 2019, reauthorizing and expanding the provisions first introduced in the Combating Autism Act of 2006.

The Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education and Support Act (Autism CARES) is the primary source of federal funding for autism research, services, training, and monitoring.

Because of the Autism CARES Act, over $3.1 billion has been dedicated for autism to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

Autism CARES became law in 2006 when it was originally called the Combating Autism Act. It was reauthorized in 2011. In 2014, it was renamed and reauthorized again.

Autism CARES requires and supports:

  • Autism prevalence monitoring
  • Training of medical professionals to detect and diagnose autism
  • Development of treatments for medical conditions associated with autism
  • The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) and its annual strategic plan
  • Centers of Excellence in autism surveillance and epidemiology
  • Countless programs and research grants to benefit individuals with autism 

The Autism CARES Act of 2014 also required a report to Congress on the current state of adult services.  The 2017 Report to Congress: “Young Adults and Transitioning Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder addressed the where gaps exist and how to address those needs. 

Because of Autism CARES, scientific developments have

  • Set a reliable diagnosis age of 18-24 months
  • Established that timely interventions makes a lifetime of difference
  • Identified co-morbidities
  • Increased understanding of biological causes of autism
  • Identified genes and possible medication targets
  • Developed early career autism researchers

We continue to work with Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ), and other congressional champions on continued funding for this bipartisan legislation.