CNY health experts promote new autism legislation
CNY health experts promote new autism legislationAugust 09, 2006Patrick Farrellpmfarrel@syr.edu
Syracuse University School of Education Dean Douglas Biklen, a number of Central New York health and neurodevelopmental experts and Jamie Burke, a first-year Syracuse University student who has autism, joined with U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer on Aug. 8 to announce the Senate’s approval of the Combating Autism Act. The proposed act, which now faces a vote in the House of Representatives, would authorize $860 million over five years to increase and coordinate federal research and education about autism.
Schumer chose Syracuse’s Jowonio School for the announcement, citing the school as a model institution for helping children with autism. “The Jowonio School and facilities like it across the country help thousands of children and their families every year cope with the devastating effects of autism,” says Schumer. “Our bill would not only provide critical funds to schools and other organizations as they help families affected by autism receive counseling and education, but would also give public and private researchers the tools they need to find a cure for this terrible disease.”
The Jowonio School operates as an inclusive educational facility in which typical children and children with special needs learn in the same classrooms. Jowonio was first developed by professor emeritus Peter Knoblock along with SU students, faculty and parent leaders, and it has enjoyed a close relationship with the School of Education ever since. “The School of Education is a leader in the movement for inclusive education, so we know firsthand how effective this approach and others supported by the proposed legislation are to helping children with autism,” says Biklen. “We wholeheartedly endorse Senator Schumer’s efforts to get this legislation through Congress.”
Schumer noted that although Jowonio provides outstanding services to its students, there are not enough resources for children with special needs in New York state and that 1,700 New York state students are placed at facilities outside the state at a cost of up to $3 million a year.
The Combating Autism Act would create a national education program for doctors and the public about autism, provide grants for statewide autism screening, create a NIH center of excellence for research on autism, and create a nationwide data clearinghouse. The bill also would increase the collaboration of individuals and groups who are working on autism and require the NIH to create a strategic plan to combat autism, which affects as many as one in every 166 children born today.