Friday, February 29, 2008


Bill Would Create Autism Commission
to Develop Strategic Plan for Colorado

DENVER—Today the Senate Health and Human Services Committee unanimously approved Senate Bill 163, which would support research and treatment for people diagnosed with Autism.

Sponsored by Senator Brandon Shaffer (D-Longmont), the bill calls for the creation of an Autism Commission to study autism spectrum disorders, identify existing services and gaps in services for people with autism spectrum disorders, and identify best practices in providing services.

“We are making significant progress in learning about and treating autism,” Shaffer said. “This bill would provide a coordinated network of services to kids and families living with this disorder everyday.”

If passed, the Autism commission would develop a 10-year strategic plan for Colorado that would clarify the range and effective coordinated services needed to provide support for people with autism spectrum disorders. The plan would also explore possible sources of funding needed to provide those coordinated services.

According to the Colorado Autism Commission, Autism is a brain disorder that affects a person’s ability to communicate, to reason and to interact with others. The disease is a spectrum disorder that affects people in varying degrees of severity and is often found in combination with other disabilities. Most side affects of the disease can be recognized before a child reaches three years old. The disease is more commonly passed through hereditary genes. In uncommon cases, autism is strongly associated with agents that cause birth defects.

While there is no cure, research shows that early intervention leads to improvements in behavioral, development of functional skills, communication and intelligence.

The 22-member commission would be asked to provide a report to the Governor and to the General Assembly in the fall of 2009.

SB08-163 next heads to the full Senate for consideration.