Monday, May 5, 2008

NJ senator proposes bill to help people with autism

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey announced on April 28 a three-pronged plan to help children and adults living with autism. New Jersey leads the USA in children diagnosed with autism - one in 94 compared to one in 150 nationally, according to The Hudson Reporter.

"This package of legislation honors citizens with autism and parents who have children with autism," Menendez said. "It is so heartwarming to hear these parents talk about their children."

The package, known as the Helping HANDS for Autism Act, has three parts: Autism Navigator, Autism Awareness and Home of their own.

The grant program, Autism Navigator, that will try to help individuals and families in finding the health, education, housing, and social services they need. "The program will help connect families to treatment options soon after diagnosis and to community support systems," The Reporter says.

"Autism Awareness provides grants to state and local governments for the development, demonstration, and dissemination of a curriculum for the training of first responders, such as police and fire departments, emergency medical technicians, and volunteers, to assist people with autism and other cognitive behavior disabilities."

Home of Their Own will work to find housing for adults with autism. A Housing and Urban Development task force made up of national and state autism groups, community organizations, and parents will develop a grant program to provide housing and services to adults with autism.

Barbara Strate, the parent of a 12-year-old autistic daughter, said: "New Jersey is ground zero for the explosive growth of autism. You feel disorientation, desperation, and dread when you receive a diagnosis of autism, and you often have to rely on the kindness of strangers." "We need reliable assistance. It's a wonderful thing the senator is doing. He's making the government take responsibility. It doesn't matter if you have financial means or connections. He's making it equal for all."