Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
I rise today in strong support of House Resolution 1106, acknowledging the month of April as National Autism Awareness Month and supporting research efforts for the causes and treatment of autism, as well as the very special and enormous challenges faced by the parents of autistic children.
As founder and cochair of the Congressional Autism Caucus that I formed along with my good friend and colleague MIKE DOYLE back in 2001, I am very pleased to be here in strong support of this resolution. I would note parenthetically that we have 165 members in our caucus from both sides another aisle. I think with that kind of strength, we have been able to push a lot of new funding, both at NIH and CDC, which is I think appreciated by the community.
Awareness, Mr. Speaker, is in fact a crucial part of our fight, again making this resolution important. The more we inform and educate the general public about autism spectrum disorders, the earlier the medical community can effectively diagnose children with autism and get them the help that they need, and that is important news for the 1.5 million children and adults who currently suffer from autism spectrum disorders and their families.
I would like to first and foremost recognize and commend the parents and the families of individuals with autism for their sacrifice and dedication in providing for the special needs of their children and brothers and sisters with autism.
They are heroic. I also want to extend heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the teachers, physicians, therapists, and all other advocates who work with such diligence and compassion to support individuals with autism and their families.
Mr. Speaker, when I was first elected back in 1980, the prevalence of autism was estimated to be one out of every 10,000. Just 10 years ago, that number had been changed or updated to be one child in every 500. Today, it is estimated that one in 150 children in the United States will have autism spectrum disorder; and, once diagnosed, early intervention is key to significantly improving the outcome of individuals with this developmental disorder.
Autism, as we know, robs individuals of their ability to communicate and interact with others in society, but early intervention can help those individuals live a more satisfying life. I recognize the success of the worker training programs tailored for Americans with autism. With proper support, training, and early intervention, people with autism can be more productive members of our workforce.
I would like to thank the author of the resolution, Mr. DAVID REICHERT of Washington, for his leadership in raising autism awareness and commending the efforts of those who care for individuals with autism.
It is important that, in addition to this important awareness resolution, that we move forward in Congress with other important legislation to help those with autism and their families, such as the bill that I have introduced, along with MIKE DOYLE, called the Global Autism Assistance Act. This bill would establish a $10 million program to fund projects to address autism in the developing world over a period of 3 years. Grants would aim to raise awareness and understanding of autism and
to aid service providers in less developed countries. The idea actually came when I was in Lagos in Nigeria and met with some individuals who are caring for autistic children who are absolutely without funds, and yet through love and through expertise they were helping children. But only a small number of kids were getting help in Nigeria, and that is where the idea was formed.
Another critical initiative is a bill that I joined MIKE DOYLE in introducing, called the Expanding the Promise for Individuals with Autism Act, H.R. 1881, which would authorize $350 million over 5 years to improve access to comprehensive treatment, intervention, and services for individuals with autism and their families, including adults with autism. Among its important provisions, it would create a task force of experts to evaluate current therapies and services, establish several grant
programs to assist States to provide services for children and adults with autism, and call for a study of public and private financing of treatments and services.
You hear a lot about the lack of bipartisanship in Washington, DC, these days, Mr. Speaker. In the fight to combat autism, nothing could be further from the truth. Members on both sides of the aisle are united and committed to providing care and services for individuals with autism and the families.
I urge strong support for this resolution.
I yield back the balance of my time.