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Public Statements

Combating Autism Act of 2006

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


COMBATING AUTISM ACT OF 2006 -- (House of Representatives - December 06, 2006)

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Mr. PICKERING. Mr. Speaker, I rise in proud support of this legislation. I want to thank you and your leadership; I want to thank Congressman Pallone, Congresswomen DEGETTE and BONO, all of the coalitions that have been great advocates for helping increase the research, the funding, the exploration, and the discovery of what we know today about autism. I want to thank my friend RICK SANTORUM and commend him for his dogged support and championing of this effort. And, I want to talk a little bit about today what we know about autism, how pervasive it is, how many children it affects, and what it means for us as a Nation and for our families.

One in 166 children is diagnosed with autism. For boys, and I am the father of five sons, one in 104 boys is on the autism spectrum; 67 children per day are diagnosed. A new case is diagnosed almost every 20 minutes. More children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes, or cancer combined. It is the fastest growing serious developmental disability in the U.S. and it costs our Nation over $90 billion per year and it is a figure expected to double over the next decade. Yet, autism receives less than 5 percent of the research funding available when it is one of the most prevalent diseases spreading across our country.

But the good news is we are learning, we are discovering, we are understanding much better today. We are much better able to detect, understand, identify. It is much more possible to have early intervention and the therapies and the types of treatments that help young children maximize the gifts and the talents that they have.

I want to say as someone who has met with many of the families, and all of our families have children that have been affected by this, I want to say it is not only a disability but it is also a gift. And it really is. For those of us who know and who have personal involvement, there are special angels among us with great tremendous gifts that come from autism. And what we want to do, what I want to do is to make sure that these gifts, these abilities that are special, unique, distinct, wonderful opportunities, to really maximize the things that children with autism can bring to all of us. And with this legislation today, I believe that we will maximize the understanding, we will maximize the gifts of our children who have autism, and we will make sure that their gifts are shared with the rest of the Nation and their contributions in science and math and reading and all the different areas where they may have gifts but also great struggles, that we can overcome those, that we can meet this challenge, and that the understanding of this disease and the treatments that are made available because of this legislation will make a difference in the lives of countless families and countless children. So I rise today in proud support.

I want to thank all of those who made it possible and the Members who have worked. CHRIS SMITH and the Autism Caucus deserve special praise for raising the awareness and building the coalitions within Congress and organizing the outside groups to make this day possible. I am proud that before we leave this Congress, we do not leave this job undone. And I thank Chairman Deal for all of his hard work in making this possible, and Chairman Barton, the ranking members, and all those who worked, especially our staff. May God bless this effort, and thank you very much.

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