The Missouri legislature is moving to make Autism a high priority issue in Missouri. It’s a disorder that Senator Scott Rupp refers to as "a tidal wave" of new diagnoses that will be hitting Missouri.
Rupp, from Wentzville, headed a special blue-ribbon panel on Autism last year. It was created after research showed one in every 150 births is a child with an Autism disorder.
The panel has made 16 recommendations for focusing state efforts on the disorder. Many of those recommendations are for the long term. The state senate has advanced Rupp’s bill establishing the framework for long-term action by establishing an autism ombudsman housed in the state Office of Autism Services. He says this is just the start in state efforts to deal with the long-term impact of autism.
The Blue Ribbon panel held hearings throughout the state last year. Rupp says the stories the panel heard put a human face on the issue–about the toll the disorder takes on families and the children. He says one striking statistic is that divorce among families with an autistic member is 80 percent higher than with other families.
One more vote sends the bill to the House.