Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), author of four major laws on autism and co-chair of the Congressional Autism Caucus, issued the following statement today, during World Autism Month, in response to new data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on autism rates from seven sites across the U.S. including in New Jersey. NJ was identified as the highest among the sites in the autism prevalence rate of children aged 4 years:

“The numbers released by the CDC this week confirm the ongoing need and benefits of earlier detection and intervention programs for children with autism. Having access to critical services like Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) can provide families of children with autism with the assurance that they will not be left behind.

“On the federal level, we know that autism surveillance and research, early detection and intervention, and education programs are all at risk if the national Autism CARES Act is not reauthorized again by September 30. I wrote the 2014 law and have introduced legislation (HR 1058) this year to reauthorize the program again and provide more than $1.6 billion in federal funds over the next five years for the CDC, NIH, and HRSA for the critical programs these agencies support. HR 1058 will also extend services across the lifespan of individuals with autism, supporting the estimated 50,000 persons with autism each year who ‘age out’ of assistance programs, and help them enter adulthood and live healthy, independent lives. It will also prioritize the needs of medically underserved areas.

“Autism CARES gives CDC the authority to work with state surveillance programs, helping to identify and quantify instances of children and adults with autism and other developmental disabilities.  Without that authorization and information, we wouldn’t be able to examine the prevalence of autism here in New Jersey, or across the country, and understand where the greatest needs are. I applaud Dr. Coleen Boyle, Director of the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities at CDC for her shared commitment to earlier detection and intervention.”