Thursday, August 16, 2007

Support the EPIAA

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know that the fight against autism is a cause that's close to my heart. I have a young family member who, like 1,499,000 other Americans, struggles with this developmental disorder on a daily basis.

On behalf of this family member and the 1,499,000 other Americans like him, I'm going to ask you for some help. Currently, there's a bill in process in both branches of the United States Congress. It's called "the Expanding the Promise for Individuals with Autism Act" (EPIAA). Here's a summary definition which I've copied from the Autism Speaks website:

"On March 20, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO) announced the introduction of the 'Expanding the Promise for Individuals with Autism Act of 2007' (EPIAA) (S. 937). On April 17, a companion bill (H.R. 1881) was introduced in the House by Representatives Mike Doyle (D-PA), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Charles 'Chip' Pickering (R-MS). This landmark legislation would dramatically expand federal funding for life-long services for people with autism. . .You can help get it passed!"

"The EPIAA will authorize approximately $350 million in new federal money over and above all existing federal spending on autism for important initiatives related to treatments, interventions, and services for both children and adults with autism."

Please e-mail your congressperson(s) and senators and ask them to co-sponsor this bill in the House of Representatives and the Senate. Here's a link to the Autism Speaks website which will make that easy to do:

Some helpful suggestions gleaned from personal experience:

* In your e-mail, be sure to specify that you'd like Representative/Senator So-and-So to sponsor the EPIAA, not simply vote on it. Voting on the bill means the person you're paying, you taxpayer you, to work for you in Washington just salutes when the bill is run up the proverbial flagpole. That, in and of itself, is terrific. But the bill has to get on the flagpole first. Like the class president or those color guard geeks in high school, sponsors are the ones who do that.

* When you write your representative/senator, be sure to mention that you expect a reply to your message. Many Congresspersons' websites have posted the question, "Do you require a reply to your message?" and offer a convenient "yes/no" button which you can click. My senator's---Barack Obama---website does. Hopefully, your senator---unlike Barack Obama---won't be too busy running for president and will actually reply to your message. Hint, hint, hint, B.O.!

If I've said it before, I've said it a hundred times: human life is not a partisan issue. With a minimum of effort and at no charge, you can help to make the lives of over one million autistic Americans and their families better. Please take the time to do so today.


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