The month of April is Autism Acceptance Month and includes observances to highlight the increasing number of individuals identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and the impacts on families and support services. It is also an opportunity to “celebrate the unique perspectives of those living with ASD.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes ASD as a “developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavior challenges.” Estimates from the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network, according to 2016 data, indicate that 1 in 54 children has been identified ASD.
Below are highlighted legislation related to ASD from the last several decades.
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 1990 (42 U.S.C. Chap 126) and (Public Law 104-76) – Provided civil rights protections and “prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public.”
- Children's Health Act, 2000 (Public Law 106-310) – Established the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities at the CDC and authorized the establishment of Centers of Excellence at both CDC and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) “to promote research and monitoring efforts related to the causes, diagnosis, early detection, prevention, and treatment of autism.”
- Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 1990 (20 U.S.C. Chap 33) and (Public Law 101-476) and Reauthorization, 2004 (Public Law 108-446) – IDEA ensures that all children, regardless of disability status, are entitled to a free and “appropriate public education to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment and independent living.”
- Combating Autism Act, 2006 (Public Law 109-416) – Provided funding for ASD and developmental disabilities research, screening, treatment and education; and established a Federal Advisory Committee, the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) to conduct planning, provide support, and for ASD research.
- Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education and Support (Autism CARES) Act, 2014 (Public Law 113-157) – Reauthorized provisions within the Public Health Service Act relating to autism to provide research, services, and support activities, and also reauthorized the IACC, which releases annual strategic plans for autism research.
- Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education, and Support Act of 2019 (Autism CARES Act of 2019), 2019 (Public Law 116-60) and (House Report 116-77) – Amended the Public Health Service Act to enhance activities of the National Institutes of Health with respect to ASD research and to also enhance programs relating to autism and other purposes.
- ASD Resources available from the CDC.
- Autism Acceptance Month, 2021 information featured on the IACC website.
- A Proclamation on World Autism Awareness Day, 2021 from the White House Briefing Room.
- Information about ASD and what it is can be found at the National Institutes of Mental Health as well as the U.S. National Library of Medicine.