"Although the exact cause [of autism spectrum disorder] is unknown, early intervention and various therapy programs can reduce or nearly eliminate symptoms," states Governor Perry in the proclamation. "I encourage all Texans to recognize the challenges and unique perspectives of individuals with autism and to recognize the families and health care professionals supporting Texans with autism and working toward a cure."
Representative Ron Simmons (Carrollton) is set to host the second annual Texas Autism Awareness Day at the Capitol on April 15th. Simmons, who is also the Vice Chairman of the national Board of Directors of the Autism Society, will be joined by Rep. John Smithee (Amarillo), Rep. Larry Gonzales (Round Rock), Rep. Greg Bonnen (Friendswood), Senator Eddie Lucio (Brownsville), and Senator Kirk Watson (Austin) in hosting the event. Local families and leaders from Austin-area chapters of Autism Society, Autism Speaks, and the Horse Boy Foundation will join them at the Texas Capitol building on April 15th to mark the occasion.
"What we do as lawmakers, civic leaders, and families makes a difference in coverage, diagnosis, treatment, research, and support for these vulnerable children and adults," said Rep. Simmons after referencing the recent Center for Disease Control (CDC) report that autism now affects 1 in every 68 children nationwide. This is a 30% increase from the 1 in 88 announced by the CDC in 2012.
Despite this increase, legislators are confident that Texas law now contains positive diagnosis and treatment provisions to help individuals and families affected by autism. In 2013, the 83rd Texas Legislature passed House Bill 3276 (by Rep. Simmons) and Senate Bill 1484 (by Sen. Watson) standardizing the treatment and coverage of autism– landmark legislation that will lead to earlier diagnoses and better outcomes for individuals on the spectrum.