Did you know that autism is the fastest-growing developmental disorder?
According to the CDC report released March 27, 2014, 1 in 68 children in the U.S. has an autistic spectrum disorder. This represents a 30% increase in just two years. Autism is now the third most common childhood disorder, more common than Down Syndrome and childhood diabetes combined. It occurs more frequently than childhood cancer, cystic fibrosis, and multiple sclerosis together. Within New Jersey, where I reside, the incidence of autism stands at a high of 1 in 45.
Responding to the recently released CDC autism prevalence estimate, Congressional leaders said the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act of 2013 (S. 313/H.R.647) must be part of a national plan to address this public health crisis. Sponsored by Sen. Robert Casey (D-PA) [left] and Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), the ABLE Act, would allow the creation of tax-exempt savings accounts for individuals with disabilities. The funds could be used for housing, transportation, job support, education and other services without jeopardizing eligibility for Social Security or Medicaid benefits. A total of 351 of 435 voting members of the House have signed on as cosponsors to the bill.
“These alarming statistics underscore the need to address the long term needs of families caring for those with autism,” said Casey. “Parents of children with disabilities face daily struggles that we can’t even begin to imagine. The ABLE Act will provide families with the financial peace of mind they need, and Congress should pass it immediately.”
As the parent of two autistic children, I whole-heartedly support the ABLE Act. Tackling the out-of-pocket expenses of biomedical treatments, speech therapy, physical and occupational therapy, socialization, and respite services for my two children on the spectrum are monthly challenges. While some funding has been allocated for research, there are no significant funding streams available to assist families with the absorbant costs of providing vital intervention services to their children. At inital glance the ABLE Act appears to be a step in the right direction by allowing a tax-exempt account to be established to set funds aside (similar to a 529 college savings account) to cover future expenses for thearpies and the like without jeopardizing medicare and Social Security benefits in the future.
CALL TO ACTION Join me in signing the petition in support of the ABLE Act to provide other families and myself with additional options to provide for our children. Sign the Change.org petition to pass the ABLE Act TODAY!
ABLE ACT STATUS The ABLE Act was introduced in the US Senate and US House of Representatives on Feb. 13, 2013. You can find out if your two senators and representative are cosponsoring the ABLE Act of 2013 by clicking the links below:
You can find out if your two senators and representative cosponsored the ABLE Act of 2011 by clicking the links below:
April was designated as Autism Awareness Month in the 1970s to educate the public about autism and issues within the autistic community. This month’s Reaching Beyond Autism blog postings will be dedicated to contributing to this end.