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Friday, September 16, 2011

CARA Will Come to the House Floor

The Combating Autism Reauthorization Act is heading for passage. A release from Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ):
The House of Representatives will vote Tuesday on H.R. 2005, “The Combating AutismReauthorization Act,” a bill authored by Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04) that will renew the nation’s programs for autism early detection, surveillance, research, education, awareness and treatment.

This is a great victory for the individuals and families who suffer from the autism epidemic,” said Smith, whose own state of New Jersey is believed to have the highest rate of autism in the country. “I thank the leadership of the House for making a decision that will absolutely protect our autism programs provided by the Combating Autism Act.

“Congress must remain committed to focused federal programs, research and patient services so that all families affected by autism can seek the latest treatments and hope for a better future for themselves,” Smith said.

Smith and Rep. Mike Doyle (PA-14), the prime cosponsor of the measure, are co-chairs of the bipartisan Coalition on Autism Research and Education (CARE). The new legislation reauthorizes the Combating Autism Act (CAA) of 2006. The reauthorization of CAA would be for an additional three years, through September 30, 2014.

CARE has consistently worked to increase federal support for autism initiatives, including autism programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health and the Health Resources and Services Administration.

Smith’s Autism Statistics, Surveillance, Research and Epidemiology Act (Title I, P.L. 106-310) recently marked its own 10th anniversary. The law authorized grants and contracts for the collection, analysis, and reporting of data on autism and pervasive developmental disabilities, and established regional centers of excellence in autism surveillance and epidemiology.

In January 2011, a report required by the CAA, cosponsored by Smith and Doyle, described federal action undertaken since enactment of the CAA –mostly in the areas of research and services. The report describes autism-related research and service activities carried out by the federal government since enactment of the Combating Autism Act four years ago. It was released by the Dept. of Health and Human Services and the NIH.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one out of every 110 children (1 of 94 in New Jersey) in the United States has an autism spectrum disorder. Currently, approximately 1.5 million individuals in the U.S. are on the autism spectrum. The range and severity of symptoms of autism vary from case to case, but symptoms often include difficulties in communicating and interacting with other individuals and exhibiting repetitive behaviors and intense interests in specific subjects.