AG Alan Wilson applauds President Trump’s signing Autism CARES Act into law

(COLUMBIA, S.C.) – Oct. 2, 2019 – President Donald Trump signed the Autism CARES Act into law Monday, which will mean $1.8 billion over five years to fund a whole-of-government approach to help children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families. South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson was part of a bipartisan coalition of 47 attorneys general supporting passage of the act. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill unanimously in July and the Senate passed it unanimously in September. This legislation provides ongoing federal support for research into autism spectrum disorders (“ASD”) and services to those affected by these conditions.

“We need to do all that we can to make sure those on the autism spectrum get the services they need here in South Carolina and all across the country,” Attorney General Wilson said. “Research and services are making a huge difference already and we need to make sure that continues. The Attorney General’s Office has made a strong effort to assist in the effort in South Carolina.”

A previous version of this legislation expired on Sept. 30, 2019, the day President Trump signed the new bill into law. Congress began addressing autism in 2000 with the first enactment of the bill. The Autism CARES Act of 2019 continues Congress’ ongoing mission to ensure that those living with ASD receive the necessary support and research.

The law authorizes $296 million annually for autism-related programs at the National Institutes of Health, $23.1 million annually at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and $50.6 million annually at the Health Resources and Services Administration.

The new law also helps adults with autism who are often misdiagnosed, underdiagnosed and overlooked and emphasizes that diagnosis, detection, prevention and treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) must be available throughout the lifespan of a person with autism. According to Drexel University’s AJ Drexel Autism Center, about 70,700 to 111,600 children “age out” into adulthood each year, creating challenges for education, housing, employment and access to health care.

Rep. Chris Smith, (R-N.J. 4th Dist.), co-sponsor of the law, said, “The problem of ‘aging out’ of services is a real hurdle every parent or caretaker of a child with autism inevitably faces. All children grow up and become adults, and children with autism then lose their education services. But autism is a lifetime neurological disorder, and adults with autism continue to need their services. The Autism CARES Act recognizes that and ensures that the federal government continues to help hundreds of thousands of parents by funding research and support programs and sharing best practices.”


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