Pres. Trump signs bill to fund autism research, treatment

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WASHINGTON (WCMH) — President Donald J. Trump signed into law a bill authorizing $1.8 billion in funding to help children and adults with autism.

The Autism CARES Act authorizes $1.8 billion in funding over five years to fund research, early detection and treatment.

“We support research for Americans with Autism and their families,” said President Donald Trump in a tweet. “You are not forgotten, we are fighting for you!

“Relief, excitement,” Patti Gold said.

Those are two emotions Patti Gold describes feeling when she found out about the Autism Cares Act.

Gold is the executive director for Autism Speaks Ohio and believes this will benefit thousands of families.

“Earlier diagnosis, I think one of the things is transition to adulthood more services available,” Gold said.

Under this law, 1.8 billion dollars is being set aside to help people living with autism and their families.

Just like Michael Hartley. He says his son, Xavier, was just 4 years old when he was diagnosed with autism.

“This funding that they just passed will help. Will help families and people, mothers and fathers and children and figuring this thing out,” Hartley said.
He is hoping this money will lead to finding the cause.

“We are diagnosing it more and there’s an environmental factor and we have to find out what that is,” Hartley said.

The money will fund programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health and Health Resources and Services Administration.

“If you don’t invest in this stuff now, it’s going to cost society a lot more later,” Hartley said.

According to the CDC, 1 in 59 children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

The developmental disability is about 4 times more common among boys than girls.

For Hartley, he believes this law is going to make a big difference here in the state.

“That matters a lot to me and my family and the tens of thousands of autism families in the state of Ohio because our leaders care and that matters,” Hartley said.

The Autism Cares Act was signed into law the same week as the Autism Speaks Walk, which raises money for people living with autism.

NBC4 is a proud sponsor and Jerod Smalley is leading out team this Sunday.

Specifically the bill:

  • Authorizes $1.8 billion—including annual funding for the  National Institutes of Health (NIH) at $296 million, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at $23.1 million, and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) at $50 million.
  • Reauthorizes and expands the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC);
  • Adds new members of IACC from the Departments of Labor, Justice, Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development;
  • Increases from two to three IACC members who are self-advocates, parents or legal guardians and advocacy/service organizations;
  • Empowers the Health and Human Services Secretary to prioritize grants to “rural and underserved areas” and;
  • Requires that not later than two years after enactment, a comprehensive report on the demographic factors associated with the health and well-being of individuals with ASD, recommendations on establishing best practices to ensure interdisciplinary coordination, improvements for health outcomes, community based behavioral support and interventions, nutrition and recreational and social activities, personal safety and more

The bill was sponsored by New Jersey Republican Chris Smith and Pennsylvania Democrat Mike Doyle.

Smith said that Autism CARES expands government programs to include older persons with autism “who were—and are—often misdiagnosed, underdiagnosed and overlooked.”

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