This guest post is by Shannon Knall, the Autism Speaks Connecticut Chapter Advocacy Chair and mother of three boys – her oldest has autism. She worked with state legislators to pass the autism insurance reform bill in 2009.
I first met Senator Chris Dodd at a press conference in Washington DC in 2008. I have lived in Connecticut for almost my entire life. Senator Dodd is a political icon here and as a result I was certainly intimidated by the mere thought of meeting him. How I wound up standing right next to him with an autism community delegation from Connecticut I have no idea, yet there I was.
Flashbulbs lit up as he entered the room. Without missing a beat, he strode to the podium and greeted Autism Speaks Co-Founders Bob and Suzanne Wright. He then turned to me. With an outstretched hand and a warm smile, he introduced himself. We had a brief exchange as I explained to him that my son had autism and thanked him for his ongoing service to the disability community.
He looked at me and said, “Moms like you make me want to do everything I can to help. Never stop being the voice for your son.”
Neither has Senator Dodd.
Without a doubt, his retirement will be a palpable loss for our community.
Before his last term comes to an end in January, he took a final stand for the autism community through the introduction of the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act (CARA) of 2010 (S.4044). This Act furthers the Senator’s work which he began through the Combating Autism Act (CAA), signed in to law in 2006. The , CAA, among other provisions, created a desperately needed focus on research in to the cause, treatment and cure for autism. That original law will sunset in September of 2011 unless it is reauthorized by Congress to continue providing funding necessary for research and services and if that happens the momentum that has built up since December 2006 will sunset with it.
Prior to Senator Dodd’s introduction of the CAA, autism was an intermittent blip on the federal legislative radar. Our community had been in desperate need of a comprehensive plan, one that is broad in scope but specific in delivery to address the spectrum of needs of our loved ones with autism. The historic unanimous passage of the CAA changed all of that. With passage of CARA comes an opportunity for autism to remain a continued focus of political attention in addition to matching more aggressive action in response to the autism epidemic.
As your constituent and as an advocate for my son, thank you Senator Dodd for your unwavering compassion for our families in our community not only here in Connecticut but nationwide, and the courage you had, once again, to be our champion.
For more information on the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act of 2010, please visit www.AutismVotes.org/CARA.
Combating Autism Reauthorization Act 2010 Introduced! Senators Dodd and Menendez Are Again Champions for Nation’s Autism Community
We are pleased to announce that Senator Chris Dodd (CT), along with Senator Robert Menendez (NJ) introduced the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act (CARA) of 2010 (S.4044) late this past Friday. This new legislation would reauthorize the landmark Combating Autism Act of 2006 (CAA), significantly increasing both the depth and breadth of the federal response to the national and public health emergency posed by autism spectrum disorders (ASD).
As a result of the 2006 CAA, our community has made tremendous strides in federally-funded and directed research. It was the detailed surveillance by the Centers for Disease Control under the CAA that identified the increasing prevalence of autism: now a staggering 1 in every 110 American children – including 1 in 70 boys – is diagnosed with an ASD, making it the nation’s fastest-growing, serious developmental disorder.
Additional significant advances under the CAA have been realized, including:
- Improved ASD screening methods and universal screening recommendations;
- Development of effective early intervention methods for toddlers with autism;
- Creation of clinical networks aimed at improving physical and behavioral health;
- Identification of several autism susceptibility genes, leading to discoveries of new methods for diagnosis and treatments; and
- Development of best practice standards of care for co-morbid medical conditions including sleep and gastrointestinal disorders.
The Combating Autism Act of 2006 finally put us in the right direction toward formulating and implementing an effective research strategy to investigate the mysteries of autism. It is imperative that we continue to refine and intensify research into the potential causes of autism and determine ways we can improve the lives of people living with autism today, as well as their families.
Please support the CARA by taking action today! Your support on this issue is crucial in order to continue to address the public health crisis of autism and to help individuals with autism and their families across the country.
Here’s How You Can Help:
1) CALL AND THANK SENATORS DODD AND MENENDEZ! Call Senators Chris Dodd (CT) and Robert Menendez (NJ) and thank them for their leadership in introducing the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act.
Senator Dodd – (202) 224-2823
Senator Menendez – (202) 224-4744
2) CLICK HERE TO SEND AN EMAIL TO YOUR U.S. SENATORS AND URGE THEIR SUPPOR FOR CARA! Make sure to personalize the email and explain briefly why your Senators’ support for this bill would mean so much to your family.
3) SIGN UP TO STAY INFORMED! Check out www.AutismVotes.org/CARA for updated news and information on this bill and sign up to receive our email action alerts.
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