FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 04/16/2014
REP. RON SIMMONS HOSTS TEXAS AUTISM AWARENESS DAY AT THE CAPITOL
AUSTIN - On Tuesday, Rep. Ron Simmons (Carrollton) hosted the second annual Autism Awareness Day at the Capitol. Rep. Larry Gonzales (Round Rock), Senator Kirk Watson (Austin), Senator Eddie Lucio (Brownsville), and leaders and families joined Rep. Simmons to mark the occasion.
"When diagnosed early and properly treated most people with autism are capable of being productive, largely independent contributors to our society and economy," said Rep. Simmons to a crowd gathered at the Capitol. "The key," emphasized Simmons, "is early diagnosis and proper treatment. And Texas is a leading state in making sure those tools are available to its citizens."
Families affected by autism were treated to a causal breakfast and meet & greet with legislators and advocacy group leaders and invited to attend a press conference. The event included discussions of recent legislative accomplishments to help autism diagnosis and treatment, recognition of major groups for autism research and support, and a presentation of a donation to Autism Society by Carino's Foundation.
Participants from autism research and support groups included President of the Autism Society of America Scott Badesch, Board President of the Autism Society of Greater Austin Ann Hart, and the Founder and CEO of the Horse Boy Foundation Rupert Isaacson.
"Almost 6,000 new babies in Texas and their families will be affected this year by autism, the most widespread of all developmental disabilities," 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.