Friday, October 9, 2009

HHS Secretary: Administration's Commitment to Autism Comprehensive and Historic

In an op-ed published this week, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius calls autism research a high priority for the Obama Administration -- a priority "that has so far gone mostly unnoticed." She outlines the ways President Obama has made autism a focus of his presidency, such as releasing the first-ever strategic plan for government-funded autism research and adding $1 billion to his budget for autism over the next eight years.

Calling autism "an urgent public health challenge," Sec. Sebelius says that while legislation like the Combating Autism Act has been helpful, "there has never been a comprehensive, well-funded effort across government to overcome autism -– until now." Areas that need attention (as any parent, caregiver, teacher, or therapist knows) include treatment, insurance reform, education, and employment.

She concludes: "Like public health challenges such as polio in the 1950s and HIV/AIDS in the 1980s, we must address the rising prevalence and complex needs of people with autism. We still have more questions than answers. But with additional funding and a new coordinated national strategy, we are working harder and more closely together to find those answers than ever before." Read the op-ed.

How would you grade the administration on autism and disabilities in general?
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