Ocean County Press Release
TOMS RIVER – Noting the importance of funding programs and services for the more than 3.5 million people living with autism spectrum disorder, the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders have given their support to the Autism CARES Act of 2019, introduced by 4th District U.S. Rep. Chris Smith.
"As a lifelong educator, I have seen the difference early intervention can make," said Ocean County Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari. "This legislation which would reauthorize federal programs that assist children, adults and families with autism is a key component in providing needed help and also opportunity to people with autism."
The Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders recently passed a resolution supporting Smith's efforts and urging the full passage of the act by the United States Senate. The House of Representatives passed the bill July 24.
Autism is a spectrum disorder and it is a complex developmental disability that results in a neurological disorder that affects the functioning of the brain and social interaction and communication skills.
Research has shown that early intervention services can greatly improve a child's development, even though there is no cure for ASD.
"Studies show that New Jersey has some of the highest prevalence rates of autism in the entire country with one out of every 34 children born today being diagnosed with autism," said Ocean County Freeholder Director Virginia E. Haines. "We wholeheartedly support Congressman Smith's fight for funding to help improve the lives of all Americans diagnosed with autism."
Smith's bill also helps adults with autism who he said are "are often misdiagnosed, underdiagnosed and overlooked."
Language throughout the bill emphasizes that causes, diagnosis, detection, prevention and treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) must be throughout the lifespan of a person.
"According to Drexel University's AJ Drexel Autism Center, about 70,700 to 111,600 children "age out" to adulthood each year creating challenges for education, housing, employment and access to health care," Smith said.
Vicari said more programs are needed for adults with autism spectrum disorder and this bill will help provide the funding for long lasting remedies.
The Act will authorize over $1.8 billion in funding over five years for programs at the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and the Health Resources and Services Administration.
"Congressman Smith is truly a leader in this area," Vicari said. "Ocean County appreciates his work and looks forward to the full passage of this Act."