HARTFORD — State Sen. Joseph Crisco, Jr. (D-17) was among a host of state dignitaries to welcome patients, families, and advocates to the Capitol for the 8th annual Autism Awareness Day Wednesday.
The first few comparable events were sparsely attended and Autism awareness has blossomed since, according to a release issued by Crisco’s office. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data recently to suggest, “more children than ever before are being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders.”
“Just a few years ago the incidence of autism was about one in 250; nationally, autism is now said to affect approximately one in 88 children, and the prevalence increases to about one in 54 boys,” Crisco said in a news release. “For these reasons, and because I know personally of so many heartbreaking stories, I’ve made autism awareness a priority, and continue working toward parity in terms of insurance coverage for testing, diagnosis and treatment.”
Crisco said the 23 percent increase in autism diagnoses is alarming to everyone who follows the issue. Particularly troubling are the dramatic differences noted by gender and among African-American and Hispanic children.
“Connecticut has been a leader on this issue — one of the first few states to expand insurance coverage for additional autism-related testing and treatment — and I’m committed to maintenance of that leadership position so diagnosed children and their families receive a complete range of medical treatment and the educational assistance they need,” said Crisco, Senate chair of the legislature’s Insurance and Real Estate Committee, in the release. “I hope that with increasing awareness and expanded insurance options, more information about the causes of autism will be known and enhanced treatment and intervention strategies will emerge.”
Two years ago Crisco worked to enact the law requiring local and regional boards of education to provide applied behavioral analyses to students on the autism spectrum disorder and the legislature worked to provide tax credits to employers who provide a job coach or mentor for an employee with an autism spectrum disorder.