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Dodd, Menendez Unveil Comprehensive Legislation to Address Autism

CAARC Last Friday Age of Autism ran the statement on the draft of the CAA 2011 from the Combatting Autism Act Coalition of 70 autism organizations across the nation. Below is the start of that response, and below that, the press release issued by Senators Dodd and Menendez this week.

Breaking News: The Combatting Autism Act Reauthorization Bill from Senator Dodd's Office (D-CT) will be introduced this afternoon, and it will include some changes from draft we saw on Tuesday. Over 70 autism organizations representing thousands of autism families across the nation have endorsed the guiding principles set forth by CAARC. The draft we have seen falls short. Details below. You can read the guiding principles HERE at 

Statement from the Working Group of the Combating Autism Act Reauthorization Coalition on Senator Dodd’s Working Draft of a Combating Autism Act Reauthorization Bill; Dodd’s Draft Falls Short on Guiding Principles that 70 Autism Organizations Have Endorsed

On Tuesday December 14, 2010, Senator Christopher Dodd (D, CT) shared a working draft of the Combating Autism Act of 2011 (CAA 2011) that he plans to introduce later in the week. Submitted in the waning hours of the 2010 session and unsupported so far by a Republican co-sponsor, Dodd’s introduction of an actual bill was largely a symbolic gesture.  Discussions over CAA 2011 will resume in the New Year. As with the original Combating Autism Act of 2006 (CAA 2006), bipartisan cooperation will be essential to an effort that truly commits our medical and scientific institutions to combating the autism epidemic, the most significant childhood public health crisis of the 21st century. The latest information available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 110 American children born in 1998 were stricken with autism. Read the full response to the bill at Dodd's Draft Falls Short of Necessary Actions to Address The Autism Epidemic

Press Release from Sens Menendez and Dodd:

Menendez will take the baton on Combating Autism Act from Dodd in next session of Congress

Legislation includes research, health care and support services components

WASHINGTON –Senators Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today unveiled legislation to comprehensively address autism and support those living with it. Menendez will re-introduce the bill early in the next session of Congress. The legislation includes provisions to boost autism research, provide support services for affected individuals and families and to improve the health care of those living with autism.

Dodd said: “Autism can have a devastating effect on children and their families. Families struggling to raise a child with autism deserve our support, and they deserve answers. This legislation will help move us toward a better understanding of autism and help better support those living with this difficult disability. These efforts must carry on in the years to come, and I thank Senator Menendez for continuing to champion this important legislation in the next Congress.”

Menendez said: “Families in New Jersey, more than anywhere else, understand that we need to address autism on multiple fronts – with research, with early treatment and with a support structure and services for affected individuals and families. I am proud to join with Senator Dodd in introducing the kind of comprehensive initiative that is needed, and I thank him not only for his work on this legislation, but for his tireless advocacy for those affected by autism over the years. I intend to carry on Senator Dodd’s legacy by sponsoring and re-introducing this bill early in the next session of Congress.”

Specifically the bill will:

Extends Existing Authorizations

  • Ensures that the critical programs established under the Combating Autism Act of 2006 continue, including CDC surveillance programs, HRSA intervention and training programs, and the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC). 

Makes Investments in Service Related Activities

  • Creates a one-time, single year planning and multiyear service provision demonstration grant programs to States, public, or private nonprofit entities;
  • Establishes a national technical assistance center to gather and disseminate information on evidence-based treatments, interventions, and services; and
  • Authorizes multiyear grants to provide interdisciplinary training, continuing education, technical assistance, and information to improve services rendered to individuals with ASD and their families.

Establishes a National Institute of Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Creates a new National Institute of Autism Spectrum Disorders within NIH, to consolidate funding and accelerate research focused on prevention, treatment, services, and cures.  This cross-agency institute will be able to have a coordinated and targeted research agenda aimed at improving the lives of individuals with autism.  

The original Combating Autism Act of 2006 was a bi-partisan effort which expanded federal investment for Autism research through NIH, services, diagnosis and treatment through HRSA, and surveillance and awareness efforts through the CDC.  In total, CAA authorized $ 1 billion over five years, thereby having increased federal spending on Autism by 50 percent.   As part of the negotiations on the bill, however, a FY11 sunset provision was included on all authorizations.  As a result, some existing federal efforts through NIH, HRSA, and CDC would cease to exist in the coming Fiscal Year without any action. This reauthorization bill, introduced today, will not only extend these important authorizations but also make exciting investment in services related activities and create a new National Institute of Autism Spectrum Disorders within NIH.


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Mel S

I agree with the other two comments. What IS evidence-based treatment for Asperger's!? Nothing our Neuropsychologist seems to know about.
And while I understand the concern for early intervention or early treatment, will anybody ever cover treatment for a 21 yr old who's been dx with Asperger's in the past 2 years? Right now we pay for any cognitive behavioral therapy and now they are talking anti-anxiety drugs. I'm just waiting for the insurance rebuttal for that one.

Julie Leonardo

Yeah I was thinking the same thing. "Evidence Based" Treatments. Are there truly any EBT's other than supposedly ABA that meet that criteria? I know that New York doesn't really feel that OT, ST, etc are proven to work. So what is left? Drugs? Sigh! Much ado about nothing.....again.....


there's that autism speaks "evidenced based" phrase again.

also they talk about "early treatment" but what about treatment and getting medicaid to pay for treatments?

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