March 20, 2007

State of Alabama
Press Release: Lt. Governor Folsom (2007-11)

Lt. Governor Jim Folsom and Representative Cam Ward Propose Alabama Autism Task Force

(Montgomery) Today,  Lt. Governor Jim Folsom, Jr. and State Representative Cam Ward of Alabaster announced a bi-partisan task force on Autism in Alabama.  Joining Folsom and Ward were representatives from the Autism Society of Alabama, the Department of Mental Health and Retardation, along with families and service providers from throughout the state. 

The Alabama Autism Task Force will be comprised of individuals from throughout state government and the private sector.  The task force will explore the diverse issues faced by families who are impacted by autism throughout the state. The task force will be charged with presenting a set of recommendations to the Governor.

“I am proud to be involved in this bi-partisan effort to deal with an issue that affects so many Alabama families.” Said Folsom. “By working together, this Autism task force will be able to marshal resources, ideas, and energy to make a measurable difference and bring about real change.”

Autism is a complex brain disorder that inhibits a person's ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by extreme behavioral challenges. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called autism a national public health crisis whose cause and cure is unknown.

“As the father of a child who has Autism, I know first-hand how hard this disorder can be on Alabama’s children,” said State Representative Cam Ward.  “Autism is not a partisan issue.  It is an issue that deserves the bi-partisan attention this task force can bring to it.” 

The Autism Society of Alabama (ASA) is a grassroots organization whose mission is to improve the quality of life for those affected by this group of disorders. ASA promotes parental support through its statewide support network and message boards. “We sincerely appreciate the efforts of Gov. Folsom, Rep. Ward, and the families and service providers who took the time to come to Montgomery for this announcement today.” Said, ASA Board Member Bama Hagler. “The recommendations made by this task force will change lives in Alabama.”

John M. Houston,   Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation said, “The Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation is excited to participate on this task force to address the impact that autism spectrum disorders have upon Alabama children and their families.  This broad-based task force has the opportunity to envision and develop a state-wide plan for meeting the unique needs of this population. I will be pleased to work with others to help individuals and families meet this challenge.

One in every 150 children in the United States is diagnosed with autism every year.

 

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