Assemblyman Santabarbara Introduces New Bill for Early Screening for Autism

Here’s an issue I’d very much like to tackle in the New York State Senate.

The latest report recently released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control now shows that about 1 in 59 U.S. children are now being diagnosed with autism, up from 1 in 68 in 2012. The numbers have more than doubled since 2000. The data also revealed that as autism rates continue to climb a majority of children are not diagnosed until after the age of four and therefore are not receiving the early intervention services available in New York State that can have a positive impact on their development.

To promote and improve the early identification of autism, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently published practice guidelines that recommend screening for autism at the 18 and 24 month visits, before the onset of symptoms.

Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, Chair of the Subcommittee on Autism Spectrum Disorders, has now introduced a new bill in the New York State Assembly (A.09868) that will establish the use of the new AAP guidelines in New York State. The bill is the latest addition to Santabarbara’s Autism Action Plan in the New York State Assembly. 

 From left, Jeff Stark, Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, Michael Santabarbara and Bob Purtell.

From left, Jeff Stark, Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, Michael Santabarbara and Bob Purtell.

“This bill supports our belief that physicians should listen to the parents,” said Jamey Wolff, program director and co-founder of the Center for Spectrum Services, Kingston.

“When very young, the children often look well, and they are not in distress. But parents notice when they’re not developing language. The best time to make an impact is before the brain is fully developed when they’re toddlers. We need to act early,” so that children with autism can receive the care they need, said Ms. Wolff.