Doyle Responds to New Report on Autism

March 29, 2012
Press Release

 Washington, DC – March 29, 2012 – Today Congressman Mike Doyle (D-Pennsylvania) reacted strongly to a new government report that concluded that the prevalence of autism in children is much higher than previously thought.

“The CDC’s report is shocking and unexpected,” Congressman Doyle said today, “but this new estimate that one in every 88 children in the United States has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder confirms what a serious issue action is and re-emphasizes the urgent need for more federal action on research, diagnosis, early intervention, and treatment dealing with autism.”

This report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control concluded that as of 2008, the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders was 11.3 per 1,000 children aged 8 at that time (or one in 88).  This estimate is 23 percent higher than the previous estimate of 9 per 1,000 (or one in 110) children in 2006 – and 78 percent higher than the CDC’s estimate of 6.4 per 1,000 (one in 150) children made in 2002.

“The CDC doesn’t know how much of the increase is due to better diagnosis and heightened awareness and how much is due to an actual increase in the prevalence of ASDs,” Congressman Doyle observed.  “But what it does tell us is that much more needs to be done to understand the causes of autism spectrum disorders and to provide the proper assistance to individuals with autism.”

“Last fall, Congress passed legislation reauthorizing the primary federal programs addressing autism spectrum disorders – the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act,” Congressman Doyle added.  “This was essential in order to prevent these important programs from expiring in September 2011, but it was far from all that the federal government needs to do.  

“At this point, the federal government needs to undertake more research on the causes and proper treatments for autism spectrum disorders.  We need to ensure that individuals with ASDs are diagnosed as early as possible so that they can get the proper treatment as soon as possible – because we know that early intervention for young children works.  We also need to fund treatment assistance for individuals with autism spectrum disorders – either through federal funding or private insurance coverage.  And, finally, we need to ensure that enough health care providers across the country have been trained to diagnose and treat autism spectrum disorders.”

“The Congressional Coalition on Autism Research and Education is working to enact legislation to provide more services to individuals with autism spectrum disorders – especially adults.”

H.R. 2007, “The Autism Spectrum Disorders Services Act,” would broaden the existing Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee by expanding public representation and by making services to individuals with autism a major focus.  It would also establish a planning and demonstration grant program for services to children, transitioning youth, adults, and individuals of any age who may be at risk of injury, authorize grants for protection and advocacy systems, and create a national training initiative to better equip teachers and autism services providers.  

Click here to read the CDC report.

The Combating Autism Reauthorization Act (Public Law 112-32), which Congressman Doyle co-authored with Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04), renews the nation’s programs for autism early detection, surveillance, research, education, awareness and treatment. 

Representatives Smith and Doyle are co-chairs of the bipartisan Congressional Coalition on Autism Research and Education (CARE).  CARE has consistently worked to increase federal support for autism initiatives, including autism programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health and the Health Resources and Services Administration.