(ALBANY)- Legislators and advocates today renewed their efforts for passage of A.9983/S.7072 which codifies the current longtime definition of autism. The bill is intended to be the first step in protecting New Yorkers on the autism spectrum from potential service cutbacks expected from changes in national standards (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual DSM-4).
Representatives from the Autism Action Network, the Elizabeth Brit Center for Autism Law and Advocacy, the National Autism Association and the Foundation for Autism Information and Research, Inc. joined with Assemblyman Tom Abinanti calling for action on the bill which would add to the Mental Hygiene law a definition of autism and other autism spectrum disorders.
John Gilmore of the Autism Action Network in Garden City NY stated: “The State of New York should not be handing over responsibility for significant policy positions to a private organization that has its own interests and does not serve the people of New York. “
Lisa Rudley of the National Autism Association, New York Metro Chapter said: “If the proposed DSM-5 goes into effect, thousands of children across New York State will be significantly impacted with the loss of life-saving services.”
Louis Conte of the Elizabeth Birt Center for Autism Law and Advocacy in Manhattan said: “Who’s interest does it serve to take away the services of thousands of New Yorkers who need and deserve assistance? We oppose the arbitrary imposition of a new definition for a disorder that is in the middle of an epidemic.”
Mike Smith, Chairman of the Foundation for Autism Information and Research stated: “New York State should not adopt the DSM-5 without a thorough analysis of its impact on State and County budgets. The adoption of the DSM-5 will lead to significant reductions in necessary educational and medical services.”
Senator Roy McDonald (R-Saratoga), Chairman of the Senate Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Committee and sponsor of Senate bill S.7072 expressed his support for the legislation: "As autism rates continue to increase at an alarming rate, it's important that we have the appropriate protections in place for these individuals and their families. We need to ensure that the correct definition is used so that people affected by autism can obtain the services and opportunities they deserve."
Currently, New York’s Mental Hygiene law does not include a definition of autism and autism spectrum disorders, even though the law refers to the terms. This bill would add new subdivisions to the current Mental Hygiene law to include Autistic Disorder, Asperger's Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, Rhett's Disorder and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder in the legal definition of autism.
Currently at least 1 in 88 children are diagnosed with autism or another autism spectrum disorder.