According to the most recent estimates by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects an estimated 1 in every 54 children. But presentations of ASD vary widely on the spectrum. For instance, some individuals exhibit impairments in social communication and interaction, while other individuals with ASD may engage in repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, and activities. To address the needs of individuals with ASD, parents, caregivers, and medical professionals have designed a variety of treatments and practices to assist those with ASD to access educational benefits, healthcare, and other support services. To make this process more effective and to marshal the necessary resources, the U.S. Congress passed the Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education, and Support (Autism CARES) Act in 2014. It was renewed in 2019. But many still wonder what the Autism CARES Act is, and what its benefits are.
The Accomplishments of the Autism CARES Act
You may wonder, ‘What is the Autism CARES Act?’ and what has the legislation accomplished? Since 2014, the law has increased support for research, services prevalence tracking, and other government activities. Evidence about the effectiveness of autism interventions has increased in recent years because of research funds made available through the Autism CARES Act. Also, because of the legislation, there have been breakthroughs and developments in not just the understanding of ASD, but its treatment. For example, some of the advancements the Autism CARES Act has made possible include:
- Set a reliable diagnosis age of 18-24 months
- Established that timely interventions make a lifetime of difference
- Identified comorbidities
- Increased understanding of biological causes of autism
- Identified genes and possible medication targets
- Developed early career autism researchers
The accomplishments of those able to pursue their research and advocacy in autism spectrum disorder got a significant boost from the passing of the law in 2014. When it came time to renew it in 2019, many were looking to make the act even better.
The Autism CARES Act of 2019
The Autism CARES Act of 2019 was re-authorized on September 30th, 2019. The 2019 version continues the work and funding of the 2014 bill, but with some increases in scope and funding. By renewing the legislation, parents, caregivers, medical professionals, and those with ASD can expect more resources, information, and actionable treatment to continue to occur. The Autism CARES Act requires and supports:
- Autism prevalence monitoring
- Training of medical professionals to detect and diagnose autism
- Development of treatments for medical conditions associated with autism
- The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) and its annual strategic plan
- Centers of Excellence in autism surveillance and epidemiology
- Countless programs and research grants to benefit individuals with autism
Not only does the act keep the infrastructure of research into autism spectrum disorder intact, but it also expands and better coordinates the resources. This, of course, requires appropriate funding. New provisions expand the focus of government activities to include the entire lifespan of people on the autism spectrum. Re-authorization in 2019 provides:
- $23.1 million each year for Developmental Disabilities Surveillance and Research Program at the CDC
- $190 million each year for autism education, early detection, and intervention at the HRSA
- $296 million each year for activities relating to autism at the NIH
Understanding the Autism CARES Act can better help you as a parent or caregiver know what resources and options are available to you. Also, you can get a sense of how treatment for autism spectrum disorder is being conducted and advocated for. Having a deeper understanding of ASD gives parents, caregivers, doctors, and educators the best chance at providing individuals with ASD what they need to succeed.
ASD is challenging for both the child and the family. Ascend Autism has the programs and expertise to get early intervention underway and provide ongoing therapies after early intervention services conclude. We offer an array of services for treating autism spectrum disorder and have committed ourselves to help children and families succeed. For instance, we offer the following: