Autism Speaks commends congressional action to reauthorize Autism CARES Act

Legislation receives bipartisan support to fund autism research, monitoring and services benefiting individuals and families affected by autism

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 8, 2019) – Autism Speaks, which promotes solutions for the needs of individuals and families affected by autism across the spectrum and throughout the life span, applauds the introduction of the Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education, and Support Act of 2019 (Autism CARES Act of 2019) (S.427/H.R. 1058). The legislation would continue the activities authorized under the Autism CARES Act of 2014.

Autism Speaks commends Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Representatives Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) for their leadership and commitment to children, adults and families affected by autism in introducing this critical legislation.

“On behalf of the millions of people with autism and their families, Autism Speaks celebrates the introduction of the Autism CARES Act of 2019,” said Autism Speaks President and CEO Angela Geiger. “Autism CARES is the foundation of the federal government’s efforts around autism. We ask Congress to act expeditiously on this legislation.”

An estimated 1 in 59 U.S. children have autism, according to a 2018 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That is a 15 percent increase over 2012, when the estimate was 1 in 68. Many people with autism also have physical and mental health conditions that often accompany autism, resulting in ongoing healthcare needs.

Under the authority of the Autism CARES Act of 2014 and predecessor legislation, more than $3.1 billion has been dedicated to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). This funding is used primarily for autism research grants awarded by the National Institutes of Health. The legislation also ensures the continued funding of autism prevalence monitoring at the CDC, training of healthcare professionals, and efforts to develop treatments for medical conditions often associated with autism.

Autism CARES also tasks the federal government with surveying the current landscape of autism services, reporting to Congress where gaps exist and how to effectively address those needs. The 2014 legislation resulted in a report to Congress on young adults with autism and the challenges related to transitioning from school-based services to services available during adulthood. The Autism CARES Act of 2019 would mandate another report to Congress on the health and well-being of individuals with autism spectrum disorder, placing an increased emphasis on their needs throughout the life span.

The bill also empowers the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) to coordinate federal activities concerning autism. The committee makes recommendations to implement a strategic plan and provides advice to the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) on issues related to autism.

Without reauthorization, parts of the Autism CARES Act of 2014 will expire on September 30, 2019. Autism Speaks and its legislative advocates call on the support of Congress for the timely reauthorization of the Autism CARES Act and sustained funding to better support people with autism across the spectrum and throughout the life span.

To learn more about the Autism CARES Act, go to


About Autism Speaks

Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the life span, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. We do this through advocacy and support; increasing understanding and acceptance of people with autism spectrum disorder; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions. For more information and resources, go to


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