On Monday, September 30, President Donald Trump signed the Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education, and Support Act (CARES) into law. Sponsored by New Jersey Representative Chris Smith, the bill allocates $1.8 billion in funding to help people with autism and their families over the next five years.
“The problem of 'aging out' of services is a real hurdle every parent or caretaker of a child with autism inevitably faces,” Smith said in a statement. “All children grow up and become adults, and children with autism then lose their education services. But autism is a lifetime neurological disorder, and adults with autism continue to need their services."
In addition to backing autism research and autism-related support programs, CARES will prioritize grants for rural and underserved areas, according to an ABC News report.
“Today, I was proud to sign the Autism CARES Bill!” Trump tweeted Monday. “We support research for Americans with Autism and their families. You are not forgotten; we are fighting for you!”
Approximately 1 in 59 children is diagnosed with autism in the United States, according to recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Autism, which is characterized by social, communication, and sensory challenges, is four times more prevalent in males than females. New Jersey has the country’s highest autism rate, with
1 in 34 children diagnosed with autism. The cause of this heightened prevalence isn’t known, though some have suggested it may be the result of New Jersey’s screening and diagnostic services.