President Obama Signs Bill to Support the Needs of People with Autism

On Friday, President Obama signed into law the bipartisan Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education and Support Act, or Autism CARES Act of 2014, into law. Autism CARES, which reauthorizes the Combating Autism Act, continues important investments in research, prevalence monitoring and services for both children and adults on the autism spectrum. 

Approximately $1.5 billion has been dedicated to autism spectrum disorders research over the past five years through the combined efforts of U.S. government agencies and private organizations. This investment has helped to support progress in key research areas such as identifying risk factors, treatments and interventions, services, and data collection. The Department of Health and Human Services also supports the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) program, which trains health professionals from a variety of disciplines in evidence-based ASD practice and also supports states in developing and improving the system of health care for autism spectrum disorders, including early identification and coordination of care. 

The Autism CARES Act will allow us to continue to build on these efforts. It will increase understanding of the barriers that youth and young adults with an autism spectrum disorder or other developmental disability face as they transition from school-based services to those available during adulthood by charging federal agencies with assessing the particular needs of this population.

In addition, moving forward, the law ensures that the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC), administered by the Department of Health and Human Services, will include individuals on the autism spectrum, parents or legal guardians of individuals on the autism spectrum, and representatives of leading research, service, and advocacy organizations. 

Friday’s signing is the result of a diverse group of people working together. Members of Congress, self-advocates, leading disability organizations, and the parents and grandparents of individuals on the autism spectrum all played an important role in achieving this goal.

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Taryn Mackenzie Williams is Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.
Related Topics: Disabilities