April is Autism Awareness Month

Monday, April 04, 2011

This month is Autism Awareness Month nation-wide. Autism is the common use term for a complex assortment of neurological disorders known as Pervasive Developmental Disorders.

It is thought that approximately one in 110 children have autism, with it affecting boys more frequently at one in 70. At this time, there is no known cause, rendering it an idiopathic disease, which means the cause is unknown.  An estimated 1.5 million individuals in the U.S. and tens of millions worldwide are affected by autism. Government statistics suggest the prevalence rate of autism is increasing 10-17 percent annually.  In California, it is estimated that 8.8 percent of the 680,000 children enrolled in public schools are autistic, approximately 60,000. Most school districts have seen a doubling of the number of students with autism in just the past four years alone.

This year, SCR 29 (Pavley) designates April 2011 as California autism awareness month. There are also a number of autism-related bills pending before the Legislature. Notably, SB 166 (Steinberg) which clarifies what is already required by the California Mental Health Parity Law but closes a loophole, often used by private health plans that treat behavioral intervention services as educational and not medical.

For additional information on the Senate Select Committee on Autism and Related Disorders, please visit the Senate’s autism web page. Additional information on autism can be found at the CDC’s information page.

If you need further information, please contact the SMC at 916-651-1502.