Asperger Syndrome is on the rise. At least that’s the implication of the latest research that finds autism is nearly twice as common as previously reported. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says nearly 1 in 88 children in the U.S. have autism — approximately one million children and teens. That’s up from 1 in 110 children in a 2006 study. Why the increase? The answer is inconclusive. It could be that better screening and diagnosis accounts for the findings. But there could also be overdiagnosis at play. What is clear, though, is that little progress has been made in the treatment for AS and autism and much more education and assistance is needed.
You won’t find the word “autism” in the health care reform bill passed Tuesday by the Senate Finance Committee. But cloaked in legislative jargon — and nearly hidden in footnote 18 on Page 22 of the measure — is a provision that would push insurers to pay for “behavioral health treatments.” The provision is strongly supported by Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J. Only 15 states currently make insurance coverage mandatory for some autism treatments. The proposed $829 billion bill faces many hurdles. And insurance companies are mounting a major ad campaign in opposition to health reform. But the coming debate is one that will be closely watched — especially by those interested in treatment coverage for autism.