Efforts to stop the State of New York from adopting the proposed changes in the definition of autism laid out in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth Edition (DSM5) have paid off. The two bills, A9983 in the Assembly, and S7072 in the State Senate, have been passed by the Mental Health Committees in both houses. That means the only thing keeping them from a floor vote, which we are confident we will win, are Speaker of the Assembly Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.
Tom Abinanti (D-Greenburgh) the author of A9983 will be holding a press conference tomorrow in Albany to encourage the passage of the bill. Abinanti is the father of a son diagnosed with autism. Senator Roy McDonald (R-Saratoga Springs) introduced S7072 in the Senate. McDonald is the grandfather of two children diagnosed with autism.
We need New Yorkers to call Speaker Silver and Majority Leader Skelos and politely ask them to allow the bills, S7072 in the Senate and A9983 in the Assembly, to go to the floor for a vote, and we need New Yorkers to click on the link to send an email to the leaders offices asking them to allow the bills to go to a vote.
Here are their numbers:
Speaker of the Assembly Sheldon Silver
Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos
Representatives from autism organizations that have been fighting for A9983 and S7072 will speak at the press conference including John Gilmore form the Autism Action Network, Lou Conte of the Elizabeth Birt Center for Autism Law and Advocacy, and Lisa Rudley of the National autism Association New York Metro Chapter, and Michael Smith of the Foundation for Autism Information and Research. A supporting statement from SAFEMINDS will be read.
Why do we want this? Because losing a diagnosis can threaten the most basic services people with autism need: educational placements, health insurance coverage, Medicaid waivers, early intervention and other vital services.
Three studies have been done on how implementing the DSM5 will affect the number of people with autism: a study from Yale found a 55% percent reduction, including a 30% reduction among people considered severe, a study from LSU found a 48% reduction in the number of toddlers, and an Australian study released last week found a 23% reduction.