WAYNE – Families who have faced the challenges of autism underscored their strong support for U.S. Senator Bob Menendez on Monday, citing his steadfast advocacy to raise awareness and fund treatment for autism spectrum disorders. Menendez joined the families at the home of Cecilia Feeley, mother of a 13-year-old autistic child.
Menendez is the Senate’s leading advocate for a comprehensive federal response to combating autism and author of the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act, which facilitates federal efforts into research, screenings, therapies and public education on autism. This bill was passed by the Senate on Sept. 26, 2011 after Menendez was able to overcome last minute obstruction by Republicans, and signed into law on Sept. 30, 2011. The Centers for Disease Control now estimates that autism affects 1 in 88 children nationwide. In New Jersey, one out every 49 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder and the rate of diagnosis is significantly higher for boys at 1 in 29 than girls at 1 in 172.
“I am proud to open my home to Sen. Menendez because he has done so much for my family, fighting in the Senate to raise awareness and fund treatment of autism. I don’t know what we would do without somebody like him representing us,” said Cecilia Feeley.
“There is no bigger advocate for families living with Autism in Washington than Sen. Menendez. When many of his colleagues in the Senate opposed his critical bill aimed at addressing the lifespan needs of the 1 in 88 Americans diagnosed with Autism, he never stopped working to get the Combating Autism Act passed. It is vital to the over one million people living with Autism, and the millions more this challenge affects on the front lines as family members, that Sen. Menendez is re-elected! Sen. Menendez understands the lifespan issues facing those living with Autism and he is leading the charge to address them,” said Linda Walder Fiddle, autism advocate and expert
“Too few Washington politicians think about the impact when they push for budget cuts. These aren’t just numbers. They decide the kind of lives our children lead. We’re lucky to have a Senator like Bob Menendez who realizes we can’t balance the budget on the backs of families,” said Suzanne Mack, parent of an autistic young adult.
“We need more elected officials like Sen. Menendez who treat people as human beings with different needs. With the election coming up there are major decisions to be made about our future. With Sen. Menendez leading the way, we know that our loved ones will never be left out of the conversation,” said Kerry Magro, a young adult on the autism spectrum.
“I’m proud to have fought in the Senate for New Jersey families living with autism and proud of the work we have accomplished together to better understand, identify and treat autism spectrum disorders,” said Menendez. ” The Combating Autism Act was crucial step forward. We’re now able to ensure research programs continue finding breakthroughs in diagnosis and treatment, and that training and intervention programs continue providing families the tools they need to better understand and manage this increasingly prevalent disease. But we have much more to do and I look forward to continuing to lead the fight in Washington on behalf of every child and adult diagnosed with autism, and the families, teachers and communities who support them.”