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Congressman Yarmuth Announces Autism Legislation


Legislation Aims to Guarantee Students with Autism a Quality Education

(Louisville, KY) Today, Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) announced H.R. 2609, the Empowering Children with Autism through Education Act to about fifty supporters of the legislation at Carriage House Preschool.

“The number of children diagnosed with autism is escalating at an alarming rate,” Congressman Yarmuth said.  “Yet, our methods of working with these children have failed to adequately address the challenges confronting them.  This legislation will lead to solutions that ensure all children get a quality education and realize their vast potential.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in every 150 children is now affected with autism. While significant improvements have been made in diagnosis, the majority of schools are not meeting the needs of these children.

Yarmuth’s legislation will help schools and local education agencies identify the most effective classroom strategies for educating students with autism. The act directs the Secretary of Education to establish a task force of medical experts, educators, parents, and autism advocates who will study best practices and most innovative techniques for raising the performance of students with autism. The task force will distribute findings back to Congress and to the heads of all state education agencies.

Yarmuth was joined by several other community leaders who supported the legislation, including Councilwoman Mary Woolridge; Robert Watson, Board Chair of Carriage House Preschool. 

Anne Gregory, President of Families for Effective Autism Treatment (FEAT) of Louisville, explained that while “most school systems are well intentioned and try very hard…they don’t always have the right level of training, right level of direct experience, and frankly the right resources to educate our children.”  She added, “Congressman Yarmuth’s bill to develop a comprehensive approach for education programs tailored for children with autism is exactly what is needed, both in our community and across the country.”

Kimberly Bunton, Director of the Louisville’s Department of Family Services, also showed strong support for the bill, saying, “We applaud Congressman Yarmuth’s efforts to provide better education and support to the families and children with autism.  Indeed, we should take every opportunity to nurture each child’s individual academic and social development.  This bill is a first step to offering autistic children the opportunity to receive the individual attention and academic and enrichment needed to further their goals.”

Jodie Steele, a FEAT board member, spoke about her son Joshua, who was diagnosed with autism five years ago and rarely speaks.

“I, and the hundreds of other moms in Louisville like me, want to send our children to school with the confidence that they are getting the education they need to reach their fullest potential,” Steele said.  “There is a world of possibility for these children if they are diagnosed early and simply given the opportunity, the education and the support.”  She closed by thanking Yarmuth “for taking the time to listen to us, caring about our children, and doing all that you can to help. Though many of us rarely hear our children speak, you have given them a voice.”