Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Missouri Convenes Special Autism Panel

Missouri has convened a "Blue Ribbon Panel for Autism" to determine the extent of autism services in the state and to recommend a road map for the future.

Michael R. Gibbons, the acting state Senate president, said the 16-member committee "will help us determine where we are today and where we need to be in the 21st century to help provide the best quality of life for individuals and families affected by autism spectrum disorders." The panel includes state lawmakers, as well as parents, grandparents, autism service agency representatives and medical doctors. You can read an April 26 press release about the panel here.

Ginger King Luetkemeyer, a volunteer and advocate for autism services who is helping the Missouri panel do its outreach work, wrote to say that the panel intends to hold hearings throughout Missouri, from June to October. The goal is to gather information in preparation for a report with recommendations to the state Senate by October 31.

"Now that the panel members have been confirmed and announced, we will do everything from arrange the hearing sites and locations, to arrange for the expert testimony," she wrote. "We also are trying to inventory what other states have done and are doing, in their state agencies and in legislation."

The need to improve autism-related services received some attention earlier this year when Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt cited the issue in his state of the state address. Read more background on that here.

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