Thursday, April 26, 2007

Wisconsin Governor Calls for Autism Coverage, and other News Briefs

Governor James Doyle of Wisconsin this week said he believes insurance companies should cover autism services for children. Doyle, a Democrat, said he would support legislation filed April 23 by Senate Majority Leader Judy Robson "which would require group insurance policies to provide treatment and care for children with autism spectrum disorders."

The governor's brief statement urges Wisconsin lawmakers to withstand the expected opposition of the health insurance industry: "This proposal will help provide the care and support that children across our state living with autism need and deserve. I hope the Legislature will work in a bipartisan way and side with the children and families living with this disease, and not with the big insurance companies."

You can see Doyle's statement here. A political blog at The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel explains here that lawmakers last week removed a provision from Doyle's budget to require autism coverage. Senator Robson's statement in support of her measure explains a Senate budget panel removed language from the governor's budget on Friday, April 20. She announced her intent to file her autism coverage bill on Monday, April 23. Read her statement here. Both Robson, a Democrat, and Doyle's statements included this note:

Autism treatment services are already covered by insurers in Kentucky and Indiana and resulted in a less than 1% percent bump in insurance premiums in those states.


Blair hosts autism advocate

As promised in March (see background here), British Prime Minister Tony Blair met with a leading autism advocate to discuss his autism awareness campaign. Ivan Corea is a leading advocate and campaigner for autism awareness and better services for autistic children and adults. Blair told Corea he supports efforts to improve services. No. 10 Downing Street issued a brief statement on the meeting which you can see here. See the website for Corea's Autism Awareness campaign here.

Yale wins important autism grant

The Yale Child Study Center said it has received a five-year, $7.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health as part of its designation as an Autism Center of Excellence. See the press release here.

A description of the research the grant will fund, according to Yale:

The [research] team plans three longitudinal projects focused on infants with autism aged 12 to 24 months. Another project involves neuroimaging studies of a cohort of children evaluated at various stages in their development, first at two years of age, then at four and eight and finally at 10-years-old. The researchers hope to trace underlying mechanisms of brain growth and specialization of individuals with autism. A fifth project focuses on a family of genes and linked proteins found to be associated with forms of autism.

The lead researcher is Ami Klin, the Harris Associate Professor of Child Psychology & Psychiatry in the Child Study Center.

Hollywood buys rights to Daniel Tammet's book

Warner Bros. Pictures has bought the rights to make a movie of Daniel Tammet's book, "Born on a Blue Day," according to Hollywood trade newspaper Variety. See the story here. Tammet is a very smart and interesting young man who has a great facility with numbers and languages and also happens to have Asperger's. Read more about him here: "Brainman" Daniel Tammet's Great Ride.

Ending on a positive note of autism awareness

This story in the online version of the Watertown, Wisconsin Daily Times, reports that sixth-grader Ethan Schlicher won an autism awareness essay contest by penning a piece about his friend, Brandon Baluyot. Ethan wrote:

“The best thing Brandon takes out of our friendship is probably to be respected and feel like any other kid. I have taken wisdom out of our friendship. I have also learned the importance of never judging a person by their appearance or abilities.”

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