Reid Remarks On World Autism Day

“To the many Americans who have autism and the millions of family and friends affected by the condition one day is simply not enough.”

“As more and more children are identified as having autism, we in Congress must do all we can to provide them, their families, and their caretakers, with the help they need.” 

“The Achieving a Better Life Experience Act, also known as the ABLE Act, would improve the quality of life for individuals with autism and other disabilities by establishing tax advantaged savings plans that help them address the unique challenges they face…. I am proud to be a sponsor of the ABLE Act, and proud to stand with other advocates in celebrating World Autism Awareness Day.”

Washington, D.C.Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today calling attention to World Autism Day and the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act.  Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery: 

One of the privileges of addressing the Senate each morning is the opportunity to call attention to noble causes. Today I call the Senate’s attention to World Autism Awareness Day.  To the many Americans who have autism and the millions of family and friends affected by the condition one day is simply not enough. Autism is a general term for a group of complex disorders of brain development affecting social interaction, communication, and behavior.  According to a recent study conducted by the Center for Disease Control, 1 in 68 children will be diagnosed as having some form of autism. As more and more children are identified as having autism, we in Congress must do all we can to provide them, their families, and their caretakers, with the help they need.

That is why I am pleased that under the Affordable Care Act autism screenings and other preventive services are available at no cost to families. For those who are diagnosed with autism the days of being denied health insurance due to their pre-existing condition are over.   Adult children with autism may stay on their parents’ policies through the age of 26 providing them with stability and additional time for treatment.  With benefits like these, it’s no wonder that more than 7 million people have signed up for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act. And that’s not even including the people who were turned away due to capacity limits, the millions who have signed up for Medicaid, and the 3 million young adults who now have coverage on their parents’ plans. While the health care law is improving access to care, over the last year alone, NIH funded research has made significant advances in understanding the onset of autism. They have learned that the brain changes that contribute to autism occur during pregnancy and continue through the first years of life They have also concluded that some of the earliest possible signs of autism may begin to appear within the first 6 months of life. These findings are critical because they point to the need for increased efforts to detect and treat autism earlier, leading to less disability and better outcomes for children. So the work of NIH in understanding the problem cannot be understated. But there is even more work that we can do here in Congress to help those touched by autism.

The Achieving a Better Life Experience Act, also known as the ABLE Act, would improve the quality of life for individuals with autism and other disabilities by establishing tax advantaged savings plans that help them address the unique challenges they face. These special savings accounts would help disabled Americans set aside money to cover future expenses like education, housing, therapy and rehabilitation. I am proud to be a sponsor of the ABLE Act, and proud to stand with other advocates in celebrating World Autism Awareness Day.