Bill would reauthorize autism support programs

Reps. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) have introduced a measure to reauthorize federal autism research and support programs.

The bill, H.R. 4631, would extend research grants, including at the National Institute of Health, and support services for people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) for five years.

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“This is a critical investment that is working to determine the cause of ASD, identify autistic children as early as possible to begin treatment, and producing better awareness, new therapies and effective services. The quality of life of many children is at stake, as it is with young adults who age out of the support services in educational systems," Smith said in a statement.

The current three-year authorization of autism research and support programs expires Oct. 1. It included $22 million for the Developmental Disabilities Surveillance and Research Program, along with $48 million for autism education. Smith was also the author of that law.

Doyle and Smith cited a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistic that one in every 68 American children has autism.

"The latest autism numbers are simply astounding, and it is imperative that Congress come together to address this issue," Doyle said.

The legislation would extend current programs, as well as direct the Government Accountability Office to report to Congress within two years on the availability of autism support services across each level of government and the private sector.