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Blue Ribbon Panel on Autism releases recommendations

By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – Identifying and helping kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders, or ASD, will be a priority of the Missouri Senate in 2008.

A blue ribbon panel on Autism in Missouri has released its report, along with 36 recommendations on what to do for children and adults afflicted by the various disorders that make up Autism.

One out of 150 kids in America has ASD, and the authors of the report believe the same percentage roughly applies to children in Missouri.

Senate President Pro-Tem Michael Gibbons, who's also running for Attorney General, created the panel.

"This is an issue that legislators are very concerned about, they're hearing from their constituents...it's not a political issue, it's not a partisan issue; it's a people issue," Gibbons said.

State Senator Scott Rupp (R, Wentzville) chaired the panel. He thinks there'll be strong bipartisan support for their recommendations.

"The people that all came (to the hearings), Republican, Democrat, rural, suburban; it was, 'this is the issue, this is important.' I don't think politics is (going to) get into this very much...if it does, I think there'll be a backlash from other Senators and Representatives, saying, 'This doesn't belong here, let's focus on the issue,'" Rupp said.

The recommendations include the creation of a state commission that would advise the governor, lawmakers and state agencies on how to best serve kids and adults with Autism.

Another would adopt a universal screening protocol for identifying those with ASD.

The full report can be viewed at: