Thursday, February 15, 2007

NJ Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts Jr. seeks action on autism

As has been documented in many CDC studies, the rate of autism is highest in New Jersey (and here in New York, in Staten Island). The most recent CDC study found the rate of autism to be 1 in 152 nation-wide, but in NJ, the rate was 1 in 94 children. Researchers are puzzled as to why the rate is so high.

Speaker Roberts put together a package of seven legislative bills to support autism treatment measures. They include:
  • The establishing a statewide autism registry.
  • The training of teachers in autism awareness.
  • The creation of a task force on adult autism.
  • Requiring autism awareness training for emergency personnel.
  • The provision more money for the Governor's Council on Autism, which spend $4 million per year.
  • The instruction of doctors in early detection.
  • The revision of the seven-person Governor's Council on Autism to add two more members and diversify membership.

I applaud Speaker Roberts' initiatives, however, I'd like to hold off judgement in order to review the bills. Specifically, I would like to see evidence based interventions as the basis for training teachers and emergency personnel; I'd also like to see where this money will be going. For instance, there should be some money earmarked to examine why the rate is so high in NJ, as well as money provided for the intensive treatment of autism.

Furthermore, I would be interested to see how this bill would affect school psychologists who are practicing in New Jersey.

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