President Trump Signs the Autism CARES Act

By Taryn Oesch

Earlier this year, we reported that Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) introduced H.R. 1058, which, among other things, would reauthorize the Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education and Support (Autism CARES) Act.

On September 30, President Donald Trump signed it into law, just before the Autism CARES Act was set to expire. According to Disability Scoop, “the latest version of the Autism CARES Act renews the legislation for another five years, tagging $369 million annually for autism efforts through 2024,” and “expands the government’s focus on the needs of individuals with the developmental disorder of all ages, with the phrase ‘across the lifespan’ added to several provisions of the law.”

The law also:

  • Increases the number of self-advocates, parent advocates and members of autism groups on the federal Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee from two to three.
  • Requires that officials from the Departments of Labor, Justice, Veterans Affairs, and Housing and Urban Development be appointed to the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee.
  • Calls for a report to Congress from the Department of Health and Human Services on “the health and well-being of individuals with autism.”

As Rep. Smith says, “Aging out of services is a hurdle every parent or caretaker of a child with autism inevitably faces … Children grow up and become adults, and then lose their education and support services. But autism is a lifetime neurological disorder, and young adults with autism continue to need their services. The Autism CARES Act recognizes the problem of aging out and ensures that the federal government continues to help hundreds of thousands of young adults with autism and their parents by funding research and support programs.”

Locally, The Power of the Dream is also working to support young adults with autism. For example, this month, we are hosting a transition workshop on inclusive employment for young adults with autism/IDD and their families and supporters. With guests Gerri Smith, community educator, and Patricia K. Keul, director of operations for Disability:IN North Carolina, this workshop will help participants learn more about employment opportunities and how to use their IEP to meet their employment goals. Register online.