Senate Passes Autism Legislation

Thomas P. Morahan

May 30, 2007

Senator Tom Morahan today announced passage of a bill (S. 5078) he sponsored as Chair of the Senate Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Committee to require the State to develop a comprehensive plan to concentrate on services for those who age with autism in their communities and includes vocational, residential and social needs.

"It is critical that the State recognize that the needs of individuals living with autism will last for the duration of their lives and plan and provide for such needs accordingly. This legislation ensures the development of a comprehensive plan for meeting the needs of adults with autism," said Senator Thomas Morahan, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities.

Last year, there were over 5,600 autistic children enrolled in New York City Public Schools and nearly 14,000 autistic students being served overall in New York State. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that currently one in every 150 children in the United States is living with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs).

Senator Marty Golden (R-C, Brooklyn) co-sponsored the legislation and said, "the public is becoming more and more aware of the needs of children with autism but little attention has been given to the needs of adults living with autism. There is no cure for Autism and with staggering numbers of children living with this disorder on the rise, it’s just common sense to broaden our scope and recognize the long-term needs of these individuals."

The nine-member task force established as part of the legislation will study, evaluate and make recommendations to address a variety of such needs. The measure passed by the Senate today would require the final comprehensive plan to be submitted to the Governor and the Legislature by April of 2008.

The bill was sent to the Assembly.