I am a member of the bipartisan Autism Caucus, which works to enact federal legislation and ensure adequate support for federal programs that benefit individuals and families affected by autism.
I have supported funding for critical autism action in the Department of Health and Human Services. Specifically, I called for support for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct its Developmental Disabilities Surveillance and Research program; for the Secretary of Health and Human Services to carry out autism education, early detection, and intervention programs; and for the Secretary to expand research of autism spectrum disorders and to fund and review autism centers of excellence.
I also supported the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program on Autism. Based on current prevalence rates, as many as 12,000 children in military families may have autism. These families are dramatically affected by the financial and emotional costs of raising a child with autism and care for these dependents is absolutely essential.
Young adults with autism have a low employment rate. It is important that there are adequate resources to assist people affected by autism with the transition from school to employment.
I was a cosponsor of the Autism CARES Act of 2014, which was signed into law on August 8, 2014 (Public Law No: 113-157), which reauthorizes and strengthens the Combating Autism Act of 2006 (CAA), of which I was also a cosponsor. Most significantly, the CAA expanded and coordinated autism research at the National Institutes of Health, increased services, diagnosis and treatment for individuals with autism, and enhanced surveillance and awareness efforts at the Centers for Disease Control.
I was a cosponsor of the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, which was signed into law on August 8, 2014. This law established tax-exempt ABLE accounts for persons with disabilities to help them pay certain expenses such as education, housing, transportation, employment support, medical care, and other life necessities. These accounts will be a significant help to families of children with autism, or other physical and intellectual disabilities.