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Autism Press Conference
Wednesday, 02 April 2014

April 2--  State Senator Renee Unterman (R –Buford), Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and other Georgia State Senators held a press conference today to discuss the rising prevalence of Autism rates nationwide.

April 2, 2014, is recognized as Autism Awareness Day in Georgia.

“In light of the CDC’s recently released report showing a sharp increase in Autism rates, it is vitally important we take swift action to help those suffering with an autism spectrum disorder,” said Sen. Unterman. “The cause of Autism remains unknown, but the steps we take today will go a long way toward providing early intervention and treatment options for countless Georgians statewide.”

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Sen. Unterman was joined by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Emory University Pediatric Behavior Specialist Dr. Michael Morrier, Judith Ursitti of Autism Speaks, families of children with Autism including Anna Bullard of Toombs County, Rep. Scot Turner (R- Holly Springs), and the following state senators: Sen. David Shafer (R-Duluth), Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell), Sen. Josh McKoon (R – Columbus), Sen. Don Balfour (R – Snellville), Sen. Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody), Sen. Bruce Thompson (R-White) and Sen. Jack Murphy (R-Cumming).

During the press conference, Sen. Unterman joined with Autism supporters statewide to highlight recently released data from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) showing that one in 68 children are now diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. The group also reiterated the continued need for Autism coverage and discussed initiatives aimed at reducing the disorder’s overall impact on the state.

Sen. Unterman worked during the 2014 legislative session to pass measures aimed at protecting Georgia’s youngest citizens. One of these bills, the Kids Care Act, would have provided insurance coverage for children suffering with Autism Spectrum Disorder and enabled further research to be conducted to treat children with seizure disorders. This legislation ultimately failed to achieve final passage during the final hours of the 2014 Session and will require additional legislative action if not addressed by Gov. Nathan Deal.

“I was honored to stand with so many colleagues and families impacted by Autism Spectrum Disorders to recognize World Autism Awareness Day,” said Lt. Governor Casey Cagle. “We have made tremendous strides in Georgia this year. Thanks to Governor Deal’s leadership, we will provide coverage for Autism Spectrum Disorders as part of the State Health Benefit Plan. Additionally, we added significant resources to the Department of Public Health to help with early diagnosis. With leaders like Senator Unterman, I am confident we will build on the successes of this year and continue to tackle this epidemic that affects 1 in 68 children.”

Research conducted by the CDC and other leading advocacy organizations suggests that early intervention and behavioral therapies are the most effective strategies for the long-term care and treatment of Autism.

 
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