Statement by Secretary Sebelius on National Autism Awareness Month

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–April 2, 2012. 

In April, we recognize National Autism Awareness Month and the special challenges faced by those with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). The latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the increase in the number of children identified with ASD reaffirm that autism is a critical public health issue that deeply impacts the lives of millions of Americans. The Obama administration rededicates its ongoing efforts to improve the lives of individuals with autism and their families by supporting research, improving services, and working closely with the entire community.

Autism is a developmental disability characterized by difficulties in social interaction, problems with communication and repetitive behaviors.  Early identification and intervention can greatly improve a child’s development, and that is why much of our research and services focus on early diagnosis and interventions so children can get treatment when it is most likely to be effective.

The Affordable Care Act contains important provisions for individuals with autism and their families, helping to ease the financial burden that often comes with treating and caring for people with ASD. Under the new health care law, insurers will no longer be allowed to deny children coverage for ASD or other pre-existing conditions; lifetime dollar limits on coverage are prohibited; new plans must cover autism screening at no additional cost to parents; and young adults without employer-provided insurance may remain on their parents’ health insurance until they turn 26. Also, starting in 2014, individuals with ASD will have expanded access to affordable insurance options through new Affordable Insurance Exchanges and Medicaid.

This April, and all year, let us reflect on this critical public health challenge and rededicate ourselves to addressing the needs of people with ASD and their families.

For more information on HHS efforts regarding ASD, please visit or