Autism Screening On Obama's Health Agenda

Filed under: In The News

President Barack ObamaAutism screening and funding for treatment of the disease is high on President Barack Obama's agenda for the nation's health, and is the only disease or disorder called out on his new website, Whitehouse.gov, taking precedence even over cancer and heart disease.

The president lays out several clear objectives that aim to help families coping with autism spectrum disorders, not the least of which is more funding for research, screening, treatment and public awareness services. He also calls for "life-long services" for children and adults who struggle with the disease, more money for the 2006 Combating Autism Act, universal screening for all infants, and re-screening at age 2.

That last one is a biggie -- right now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises doctors to screen kids starting at nine months, then again at 18, 24 and 30 months. Pediatricians don't always remember to administer the screenings, and the tests aren't fool-proof.

Putting more money into services for kids with autism will help millions of families who now struggle to pay for their care. A survey of families coping with the disease showed that more than half of those polled bear significant financial burdens. Obama's plans could help ease those burdens, especially his call for early screening. Studies show that early intervention is crucial to an autistic child's success.

I am blessed to have two healthy children, and I can't imagine how draining it must be for parents to cope not only with the daily challenges of autism, but to also watch the disease destroy their family finances. Kudos to Obama for putting this little-understood disorder on the nation's agenda.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.