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Calls to Action

Autism Action Alert

Combating Autism Act of 2005
April 23, 2007

NAAR is asking you to contact your Senators in Washington, DC and urge them to co-sponsor S-843, the "Combating Autism Act of 2005," which was introduced this week by Senators Rick Santorum and Christopher Dodd. The bill would provide $880 million for federal autism research, treatment and public awareness programs over the next five years.

Click here to download or print a letter that you can send to your Senators on Capitol Hill asking them to co-sponsor this legislation.

We are asking you to fax or e-mail this letter to your Senators in Washington asking for their support on S-843. When you contact your Senator, invite him or her to please contact Jen Vesey with Senator Santorum at (202)224-6324 orJim Fenton with Senator Dodd at (202)224-2823 about co-sponsoring this bill. Click here to locate your Senator's email address or fax number.

Please send an email to and let us know which Senators you have contacted. We'll keep track of which Senators have signed on to this effort and send out an update.

The “Combating Autism Act of 2005” was introduced on Tuesday, April 19th by Senators Santorum and Dodd, who were joined by representatives from NAAR, Autism Speaks, the Cure Autism Now Foundation and the Autism Society of America. A similar measure is expected to be introduced in the House in the near future.

Autism is considered the fastest growing developmental disorder in the United States, occurring in as many as 1 in every 166 births. Despite this strikingly high prevalence, autism research remains one of the lowest funded areas of medical research in both the public and private sector. Congress must intensify its commitment to increasing and enhancing the federal government's contribution to autism research by passing this landmark legislation.

Specifically, the “Combating Autism Act of 2005” calls for the following:

·Authorizes the Director of the NIH to create an “Autism Czar” to coordinate NIH based-research, develop and oversee budget implementation. The proposed legislation codifies existing programs at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the Collaborative Programs of Excellence in Autism, increasing the Centers of Excellence on Autism from eight to ten. The proposed legislation also calls for the National Institute on Environmental Health Sciences to create three Centers of Excellence on Environmental Health and Autism.

·Calls for the Health & Human Services (HHS) Secretary to provide a program of information and education on autism and its risk factors to health professionals and the general public. The legislation authorizes $10 million a year for the next 5 years for early identification and prompt referral for services and education for parents and requires an annual report to Congress.

·Authorizes the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to commit $75 million a year for the next five years for grants for states to develop autism screening, diagnosis, and intervention programs and to create statewide screening systems to ensure that all children are screened for autism by the age of two.

·Reauthorizes the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention's (CDC) epidemiological surveillance program with respect to autism at $12 million a year for the next 5 years, and authorizes $25 million a year for the next five years for technical assistance and data management to states related to autism screening, diagnosis and intervention programs.

While the components of this legislation sound promising, today they are just words on paper. We need to make them become law. You can help by urging your Senators in Washington to co-sponsor the “Combating Autism Act of 2005” by signing a letter in support of this legislation.

While we have made significant progress in recent years increasing autism research dollars at the federal level, much more must be done. Our government must rise to the challenge faced by an absolutely overwhelming number of our children.

This legislation, S-843, is critical to our ability to continue advancing our search for answers – for children and families today and for future generations.

As Prisca Chen Marvin, chairman of the board of NAAR, remarked at the press conference on April 19th before a room packed with family members and supporters, "we are honored to have Senators Santorum and Dodd act as our voices on Capitol Hill."

And, of course, we thank you for your extraordinary support.

Ann Gibbons
Chair, NAAR Governmental Affairs Committee
Mother of a child with autism