Seeking to address the growing rate of autism in America and the fact that New Jersey has the highest rate in the country, Congressman Frank Pallone on Monday advocated for continuing federal efforts to increase awareness, to help identify its symptoms and to give parents the ability to navigate available resources.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that one in 110 children have an autism disorder. In New Jersey it affects one in 94 children, the highest prevalence in the nation.
"We must take on autism as the urgent public health concern it is, especially in New Jersey," said Pallone. "We've made significant strides over the past decade in confronting this disease but there is still more to be done."
The Combating Autism Act, under consideration in a legislative hearing before the Energy and Commerce Committee's Health Subcommittee, builds on previous efforts to bolster autism research by authorizing programs for autism surveillance, education, awareness and intervention until 2014.
For New Jersey this legislation means that The Autism Center, part of the University of Medicine and Dentistry, New Jersey, can continue to research factors in the state's higher autism prevalence, diagnose and alleviate the symptoms of autism and better train healthcare professionals who care for those with autism.
"I hear from parents often who are looking for answers as to why their child has autism and what is being done about it. This isn't a disorder that affects one in a million -- many people know someone affected by autism and it's time to tailor programs that recognize this fact."