Thursday, May 2, 2013

Autism Blog Post from Utah Congressman Jim Matheson (UT-04)

Last night we had a great event put on by The Home Depot for Utah families affected by autism. Congressman Jim Matheson was kind enough to come by and meet our kids and hear our stories. This morning he sent me the following blog post about his experience at this event that I'd like to share it with you:

"Wednesday, I was honored to meet with Utah families and children affected by autism. With one in 47 children in the state diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, Utah has one of the highest autism rates in the country. In my role as a representative of our state, it is a priority to me to dedicate time and efforts in Washington to raising autism awareness and supporting research to understand and treat the disorder.

During my time in this job, it has been a privilege to have met with countless Utah families, teachers and health professionals and to have heard their perspective and their stories about raising children with autism. I have visited the special education classrooms where dedicated teachers work with children who have been diagnosed as autistic, as well as met with families desperately searching out medical options for their children. There is no substitute for hearing these firsthand accounts and they have shaped my understanding of autism as well as underscored the work we have to do together to better understand the disorder and to manage both short and long term opportunities for these children in our state. Specifically, I have learned that we must focus efforts on analyzing both qualitative and quantitative data, prioritizing research, and tailoring paths for learning in order to help these families create a future for their children.

As a member of the Autism Caucus in Washington, I am committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle who to seek more answers about this disorder, how it affects families and what we can do to support children living with autism. I support responsible and reasonable federal funding for medical research which has long proven the key to breakthroughs in treatment and effective care.  Late last year I joined my House colleagues on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to ask questions of a panel of experts regarding research findings of increased rates of autism. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that one percent of the population between the ages of 3 and 17 has an autism spectrum disorder.

That being said, awareness is only the first step. We must take thoughtful, collaborative measures to improve the diagnoses and treatment of autism."


Jim Matheson