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ND Families Affected by Autism Spectrum Comes to the Legislature

KXNews out of Bismarck was there to cover a portion of the morning.

KXNews out of Bismarck was there to cover a portion of the morning.  Click here to catch it.

Yesterday’s Human Services Committee meeting was full from 9 am til noon with a variety of testimony regarding the Autism Spectrum Disorder – or what will soon become known as ASD.  On the agenda were three bills concerning people or families affected by the disorder…   Bills HB 1037, HB 1038 and HB 1039.

House Bill 1037 is pretty straight forward and is asking for the continuation of a legislative management study of the disorder that began as an interim study in 2011-2012.  The purpose of the study is for diagnosis, early treatment, care for, and education of individuals with ASD.  Since this is associated with legislative management, there is no cost appropriation required for this bill. 

House Bill 1038 asks for the implementation of a registry in North Dakota for the purpose of collecting data driven evidence to be used for diagnostics and treatment and the development of education and training programs in the K-12 school systems.  This is the one that brought in a tremendous amount of support for the bill.  I have to admit that I abhor the idea of any kind of registries when it comes to developmental issues of any kind, but in listening to the testimonies by professionals and families alike, I can see where there would be good information to come from this – and the privacy of the individuals would be protected through the Department of Health.  Examples were given of models from other states that have worked successfully and it wouldn’t be any different than registries that already exist for the CDC, etc., through the Health Dept.  Hearing the impacts of early diagnosis, and the training and education in the K-12 school system was very apparent – and the testimony to its positive affects was really powerful.  Young Colin did a fantastic job “showing” us just how profound the affects have been for him and what it has meant to him.  This particular bill would have a biennial fiscal impact of $148,132 for the registry implementation and $198,00 for the education and training portion.

House Bill 1039 is asking for the Legislation to consider a Voucher System specific to the families and individuals affected with ASD.  The premise is to devise a vocational approach to individuals that would allow them access to a wide variety of resources to help them learn to live, learn and grow with the disorder with the goal of establishing a support system that sees them through to productive and contributing citizens as adults.  A complex and interesting concept, this particular bill has a fiscal note attached to it of 4.5 million over the next biennium.

We suspect we’ll be moving into committee work on this next week.  It’s at that time we’ll all discuss the pros, the cons, make changes or suggestions and approve or disapprove.  More to report then.

Any thoughts or ideas on this – or any other topics?  Let me know!  Phone, text, email – or comment here.

Till then….    Rockin’ on!

 

 

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