FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 19, 2007
AUSTIN, TX -- The Texas Senate today joined in Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr.'s efforts to ensure that children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) reach their maximum potential by approving his bill that will require health insurance coverage for children 3 to 5 years old.
"I am thrilled that my Senate colleagues supported such important legislation that will lead to insurance coverage of therapy for these young children who are afflicted with ASD," said Sen. Lucio. "Additionally, we are saving families and the state money down the line because Senate Bill 419 will provide for early intervention that will reduce the need for services in school and throughout a person's lifetime."
Twenty-five years of research demonstrates that when children with ASD are provided with a comprehensive set of intensive services at an early age, more than 40 percent are able to enter and succeed in regular classrooms, and another 40 percent make remarkable gains in functional ability.
"Early intervention can mean the difference between helping a child achieve the ability to engage in a conversation with a parent and a child incapable of even maintaining eye contact," explained Sen. Lucio. "We can no longer continue in a path that enhances ASD problems for these children's futures when we can provide early intervention services that can turn their lives around. My bill offers this hope."
Dr. David S. Baskin, a neurologist at the Baylor Methodist Hospital Neurological Institute, calls ASD a "national emergency and further stated, "There is convincing evidence that early intervention makes a difference with studies showing that 47% of children can become indistinguishable from their peers with intensive treatment."
The Autism Society of America reports that the United States currently spends $90 billion on ASD-related services each year, 90 percent of which is used for adult services. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported this year that ASD is the fastest-growing developmental disability.
"With ASD rates growing between 10 and 17 percent per year, we as a state and a nation must do everything in our ability to offset the impact, starting by ensuring that young children get the services they need," added Sen. Lucio. "By refusing key services to children with autism, we are condemning them and their families to a lifetime of unnecessary hardship and social isolation."
SB 419 will now be sent to the House for consideration.
NOTE: Staff member handling this legislation is Policy Analyst Kate Volti, who can be reached at 512-463-0127.