NH DHHS - Governor Signs Bill Creating Autism Council

Concord, NH - New Hampshire Governor John Lynch will take the next step toward implementing an ambitious State Plan to improve services to individuals with autism and related disabilities on Friday, August 22, 2008, when he signs HB 1634 into law at a State House ceremony scheduled for 10:15 a.m.

This bill establishes the NH Council on Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). The Council includes representatives from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the Department of Education, the Autism Society of NH, health care professionals, families, and an individual with ASD. The Council is charged with insuring that the recommendations announced last spring by the Legislature’s blue ribbon Commission will result in policy changes and improved outcomes for citizens affected by autism.

“There’s general agreement that a number of service systems need to adjust their policies and practices in response to the unique needs of this population,” said Kirsten Murphy, the mother of two sons with ASD and an appointee to the Council. “Our job will be to bring the right people to the table so that this happens quickly and in a way that reflects best practices in the treatment and support of individuals with ASD.”

Issues that will be taken up by the newly established Council include the implementation of universal screening for young children, better coordination of care, alternative models of supported employment, and insurance reform.

ASD is a neurologically based disability that affects social interaction and communication. In the Granite State, more than 2000 children, and an unknown number of adults, are thought to have a diagnosis on the autism spectrum. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now estimates the incidence of ASD to be 1 in 150 children.

The Council’s first meeting will be in September.