(MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA)—Representative Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) along with Jennifer Muller, Executive Director of the Autism Society of Alabama, today announced that the Second Annual Autism Awareness Day will be held Thursday, April 16 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Statehouse in Montgomery.

Self-advocates, family members, and professionals will visit their legislators to express the overwhelming need for support and services for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders in Alabama.

Hundreds of parent advocates from throughout the state are expected to come to Montgomery on this day to push for better Autism services in Alabama.

“In just one year, the Alabama Legislature has made great strides in bringing autism and autism-related disorders’ needs to the forefront of the special needs agenda,” Rep. Ward said today. “I am thrilled that we are celebrating our Second Annual Autism Awareness Day next Thursday and look forward to great participation,” he added.

In addition to being a member of the Alabama House of Representatives, Cam Ward served as Chair of the Autism Task Force, created in 2007 by a Joint Resolution of the Alabama Legislature.

A prevalence study supported by the CDC estimates as many as 30,000 people in the state are affected by ASD.

Representative Ward recently introduced House Bill 615, which creates autism service centers throughout the state, on the campuses of state universities and colleges.

The centers will provide a trained staff with expertise in autism and autistic-like behaviors to work with clients and their families and with school districts whose duties include providing an appropriate education program for school-age children.

The centers will also implement public awareness programs to inform the public about autism. HB 615 passed the House and is currently awaiting final passage by the Alabama State Senate. Senator Linda Coleman (D-Birmingham) is the Senate sponsor of this legislation.

Ward estimates that several hundred families of autistic children and adults will be in Montgomery for the news conference and other activities planned for Thursday. “We applaud all of the parents and family members who have taken the time to come to Montgomery and talk to their elected officials about the need for better Autism services in Alabama.”

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