We have a moral obligation to protect the innocent and vulnerable. Our children are among the most vulnerable. As I travel the state, I have visited with family after family that is dealing with autism. Autism Spectrum Disorders affect more lives than pediatric cancer, diabetes and AIDS combined. Early diagnosis of autism dramatically improves the development of children who have the disorder. Fortunately, these autistic disorders can be reliably diagnosed very early in a child’s life–sometimes as early as six months. To focus on diagnosis and improvements to autism treatment I am asking you to approve my recommendation of 3.9 million dollars.You can read the whole speech here (the above quote is on page 4 of the PDF document). The St. Louis Post-Dispatch didn't mention the line in its news story published online today, but noted in general that the governor was trying to counter his "tightfisted image" by demonstrating he cares about people who can't afford health care. Click on this link to read the news story.
It's too soon for me to tell how this budget line item compares to previous years spending plans in Missouri. This report from the News-Leader in Springfield, Mo., says that the plan calls for spending $500,000 on an early childhood center for kids with autism in the Ozarks.
The Post-Dispatch story quotes Democratic voices in the state saying that the governor's entire plan for Missouri lacks details. So we'll have to see what happens to this idea.
It is interesting, however, that autism spectrum disorders made it into the governor's speech at all.