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With one in 88 children and one in 54 boys affected by autism, the world’s leading science and advocacy organization for the condition is calling upon the nation’s leaders to address what it calls a public health emergency.

“We have an epidemic on our hands,” said Bob Wright, co-founder of Autism Speaks, referring to new statistics issued by the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC). “The costs [of dealing with autism] are staggering and will continue to rise,” he said, adding, “We know that early diagnosis and treatment are critical, so it is imperative that the US government step up its commitment to help people living with autism today.”

Autism Speaks calls for the development of a national action plan that includes:

  • Increased funding for science to uncover the genetic underpinnings of autism
  • Increased funding for research to detect the causes of the disease
  • Accelerated funding and development of effective medicines and treatments
  • A strategy where all kids with autism are diagnosed by 18 months, at the latest
  • A National Training Corps to recruit therapists, service providers and specially trained teachers and teacher assistants
  • A strategy to address the growing needs of adults with autism, including continuing education, employment, housing and community integration

“We need the president, public health agencies and representatives from both sides of the aisle to come together,” Wright said, and then added: “A national emergency needs a national strategy. Anything less won’t be enough.” 

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