For Immediate Release - April 09, 2012

GOVERNOR PATRICK HONORED FOR COMMITMENT TO PROVIDING SERVICES AND SUPPORT TO INDIVIDUALS WITH AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER

Proclaims April “Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month”

BOSTON – Monday, April 09, 2012 – Governor Deval Patrick joined the Advocated for Autism of Massachusetts (AFAM), the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation, legislators and other advocates to proclaim April “Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month” and accept AFAM’s “Impact and Achievement Award” in recognition of his leadership and strong commitment to services and support for families and individuals living with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Governor Patrick accepted the award at AFAM’s 14th annual Autism Spectrum Awareness Day at the State House.

 Autism Spectrum Awareness Day
Governor Patrick offered remarks and proclaimed April “Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month.” (Photo credit: Meghan Dhaliwal / Governor's Office). View additional photos.

“Policy only matters at the point where it touches people and it is clear that our policies matter,” said Governor Patrick. “It is in our interest to promote an environment of acceptance, respect and inclusion for autistic individuals. Through public awareness, we are seeking to minimize the barriers faced by autistic people, their families and their support networks.” 

Massachusetts has been a leader in establishing early intervention practices and other supports for people with autism. In August 2010, Governor Patrick signed legislation to make essential diagnostic tests, medical treatment and services for children and adults with autism spectrum disorders more affordable and accessible for Massachusetts residents. The legislation gave Massachusetts one of the most comprehensive autism coverage laws in the nation, offering needed relief for working families struggling to pay for necessary medical services. It requires that health insurance companies provide coverage for early and intensive interventions and prohibits insurers from establishing any annual or lifetime service limitations on coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Insurers may also not limit the number of visits an individual may make to an autism services provider.

Furthermore, in 2010, in order to develop a comprehensive strategy for policy and system development, Governor Patrick established the Autism Commission with members representing the major advocacy groups in the state, including representatives of AFAM, as well as many family members and professionals in the field.

Autism now affects one in 88 children in the United States, and the numbers diagnosed continue to climb, according to AFAM. The event today served as an opportunity to provide the public with additional information about autism and the services and supports available to individuals and families living with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Massachusetts.

Today’s proclamation urges all citizens of the Commonwealth to recognize “Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month” and to promote an environment of acceptance, respect and inclusion for autistic individuals. Through further public awareness, Massachusetts seeks to minimize the barriers faced by autistic people, their families and their support networks.

AFAM 

Advocates for Autism Massachusetts, (AFAM), was formed in 2004 to address the need for public advocacy on behalf of individuals, families and professionals who have or work with people with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). The organization provides an important arena for mobilizing those who interact with ASD in their day-to-day lives as the most eloquent and persuasive spokespeople for their concerns.

The Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism

The Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism, Inc. was established in 1998 by Doug Flutie and his wife, Laurie, in honor of their 20 year old son, Doug, Jr. who was diagnosed with autism at the age of three.  Thier mission is to support families affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder.  They are committed to increasing awareness of the challenges of living with autism and helping families find resources to help address those challenges.  They provide individuals with autism and their families an opportunity to improve their quality of life by funding educational, therapeutic, recreational and advocacy programs.

Other sponsors of the event include Asperger’s Association of New England, Autism Alliance of MetroWest, Autism Resource Center of Central Massachusetts, Autism Society of America, Massachusetts Chapter, Autism Support Center, Till/Boston Families for Autism, Inc., Charles River Center, Community Autism Resources, Inc., Community Resources for People with Autism, Family Autism Center, The Arc of Massachusetts, Autism Speaks and Massachusetts Advocates for Children.

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