House passes reauthorized Autism Act

Autism Awareness Ribbon
Autism Bill Passes House

The U.S. House of Representatives passed by a voice vote the newly-named Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education and Support Act (Autism CARES) on June 25.

Under the bill, Congress would provide $1.3 billion for autism-related research and other initiatives over the next five years.

According to a news release from Rep. Chris Smith (R- N.J), one of the bill’s sponsors, the funding would be allocated as follows: $950 million for hundreds of Research Grants at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACCC); $240 million for Autism Education, Early Detection, and Intervention; $110 million for the Developmental Disabilities Surveillance and Research Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The bill is a reauthorization of the Combatting Autism Act, passed in 2007. The name of the bill was changed in response to a campaign from disability advocates.

“It was a sign that Congress and many of the autism advocacy organizations that argued in favor of that rhetoric within the legislation lacked any respect for the views of autistic adults,” Ari Ne’eman, president of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, told Disability Scoop. “Autistic people and a growing number of our families do not see ourselves as something to be combated.”

Also on June 24, the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee approved a companion bill. It now advances to the full Senate.

2 responses to “House passes reauthorized Autism Act

  1. Student with Autism Defeats Miami-Dade County School Board

    Miami unsuccessfully tried to beat down a single family in their crusade to have their son’s educational services funded. Oliver, now a young man on the autism spectrum, like David in “David & Goliath” defeated the Miami-Dade County School Board after an 8 year battle.

    Miami-Dade refused to offer Oliver, an acutely sensitive boy, anything other than its 3500 student High School. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Oliver holding, “the IDEA does not countenance such a perverse result.” Perverse, indeed!

    During oral argument, Oliver’s lawyer, Tracey Walsh, explained to the 11th Circuit panel that, even though the placement Miami chose for Oliver was inappropriate, in this case, the placement issue did not even matter since once it was determined that the IEP failed to offer Oliver FAPE, the school where the deficient IEP would be implemented, simply did not matter. The 11th Circuit agreed. “[It does not] matter whether the chosen placement itself violates the IDEA … the IEP was not good enough to allow Oliver to access his education no matter where it was being implemented.”

    This is the first time that the 11th Circuit has had to decide two critical issues: (1) whether a school district can and should fund in-home educational services after a FAPE denial; and (2) whether a school district “predetermined” a school placement rather than merely having accorded “no more than after-the-fact, pro-forma participation in crafting” a student’s IEP. “The absolute dismissal of the parents’ views falls far short of what the IDEA demands from states charged with educating children with special needs.” Bravo, 11th Circuit!

    We are hopeful that this is the final decision in Oliver’s long journey to justice. See, R.L. and S.L., individually and on behalf of O.L., a minor v. Miami-Dade County School Board, Case No. 12-14800.

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