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Public Statements

Recognizing the Importance of Increasing Awareness of Autism

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Location: Washington, DC


RECOGNIZING THE IMPORTANCE OF INCREASING AWARENESS OF AUTISM -- (House of Representatives - May 05, 2004)

Mr. BILIRAKIS. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and agree to the resolution (H. Res. 605) recognizing the importance of increasing awareness of autism, supporting programs for increased research and improved treatment of autism, improving training and support for individuals with autism and those who care for individuals with autism, and for other purposes, as amended.

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Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time, and I congratulate the gentleman from Massachusetts for this very important resolution that, as has been pointed out, does several things. It recognizes the importance of increasing awareness of this affliction, autism. It supports programs for increased research and improved treatment of autism. It improves training and support for individuals with autism.

But one of the causes that I believe is one of the most important ones is that it recognizes and commends the parents and relatives of children with autism for their sacrifice and dedication in providing for the special needs of children with autism and for absorbing significant financial costs for specialized education and support services.

As has been pointed out before, each one of us could probably be here on the floor with a personal story about how we know someone who has autism, a family that has been affected by this disease, this affliction; and I am no exception to that. My best friends, Charles Flick and Patience Plumer Flick, have three children, two of whom have autism. Bonnie, a teenager, is able to communicate both verbally and in written form. She is able to do simple arithmetic. She is probably in the higher level of high-functioning autism disorder. However, her young brother, Willis, is not able to communicate, is not aware of his surroundings, makes no connection to those around him in a very direct way, nor is he able to communicate in any way, shape or form except for grunts and pointing at simple pictures.

It has been a great experience for the family, a great challenge, to have them deal with the special needs of these two children. It presents a special challenge as well to their oldest child, Penny Flick, who is a graduating senior from high school this year.

Autism affects not just the children, those individuals with autism; it affects and it impacts the entire family. It has been a blessing, I believe, for the Flick family to have children with autism because it has made them more aware of God's many blessings upon them and makes them cherish life all the more. I think that this clause in this resolution of the gentleman from Massachusetts is very poignant because it recognizes and commends the parents and the relatives of children with autism because they deserve a very special place in our society and in our community. Caregivers of people with special needs so often do not go noticed and are not given the attention that they deserve. It takes a special heart and a special family to cope with the daily challenges that autism gives to the families.

I commend the gentleman from Massachusetts for this resolution, and I congratulate the Flick family and everyone involved with Bonnie and Willis for their great care.

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