Federal Plan on Autism Announced

By Lisa Goldstein — November 26, 2003 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A new federal strategy to attack the rising number of cases of autism, a mystifying childhood developmental disorder, was unveiled at a national conference here last week.

An expert panel of scientists devised the plan to be a 10-year road map for clinicians, researchers, and several federal agencies. The plan calls for more biomedical research on autism, early screening and diagnosis, and improved access to autism services. It includes both short-term and long-term goals.

“We needed to do a better job in the federal government of finding out what is going on with our children,” Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., said at the Nov. 19 conference. “The number of children with autism is growing, and it’s not just a result of better diagnostic ability. I believe something else is going on.”

Some 650 researchers, educators, policymakers, advocates, and parents attended the conference.

Autism typically appears in the first three years of a child’s life. The disorder, which has a spectrum of severity, afflicts a child’s ability to communicate and connect with the outside world. About 1.5 million Americans, adults and children, have some form of autism, experts say.

During the fiscal 2003 appropriations process, Congress requested an explicit set of priorities for research and other activities concerning autism over the next several years.

Broad Priorities

The plan, a wish list of sorts, offers broadly stated goals and research projects without price tags.

For example, within seven to 10 years, as many as 25 percent of autism cases would be prevented through early identification and early behavioral treatment; methods would be established and put into place to allow 90 percent of individuals with autism to develop speech; and genetic and environmental causes would be identified, it says.

U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige said at the conference that schools need to do a better job of educating students with autism. But that’s not an easily achieved prospect.

In schools, about 150,000 students with autism receive special education services. Students with autism have a range of accommodations, allowing some children to participate in regular classes. Others with more severe symptoms may attend self-contained programs.

“The number of children with autism is rising,” Mr. Paige said. “But the number of teachers trained to work with them is not.”

Related Tags:


English-Language Learners Webinar Helping English-Learners Through Improved Parent Outreach: Strategies That Work
Communicating with families is key to helping students thrive – and that’s become even more apparent during a pandemic that’s upended student well-being and forced constant logistical changes in schools. Educators should pay particular attention
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Mathematics Webinar
Addressing Unfinished Learning in Math: Providing Tutoring at Scale
Most states as well as the federal government have landed on tutoring as a key strategy to address unfinished learning from the pandemic. Take math, for example. Studies have found that students lost more ground
Content provided by Yup Math Tutoring
Classroom Technology Webinar Building Better Blended Learning in K-12 Schools
The pandemic and the increasing use of technology in K-12 education it prompted has added renewed energy to the blended learning movement as most students are now learning in school buildings (and will likely continue

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Schools Could Count Nonbinary Students Under Biden Proposal
The Civil Rights Data Collection for this school year could also revive questions about inexperienced teachers and preschool discipline.
6 min read
Image of a form with male and female checkboxes.
Federal 'Parents' Bill of Rights' Underscores Furor Over Curriculum and Transparency in Schools
U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley's bill highlights how education issues like critical race theory will likely stay in the national political spotlight.
7 min read
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., speaks during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the conclusion of military operations in Afghanistan and plans for future counterterrorism operations, Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., says "it's time to give control back to parents, not woke bureaucrats."
Patrick Semansky/AP
Federal Opinion It’s Not Just the NSBA That’s Out of Touch. There’s a Bigger Problem
Those who influence educational policy or practice would do well to care about what parents and the public actually want.
4 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Federal Dept. of Ed., Florida Continue to Battle Over Ban on School Mask Mandates
Federal officials say they’ll intervene if the Florida Dept. of Ed. goes ahead with sanctions on districts with mask mandates.
Ana Ceballos, Miami Herald
2 min read
Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran speaks alongside Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, rear right, Fla. Sen. Manny Diaz Jr., left, state legislators, parents and educators, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, at the Doral Academy Preparatory School in Doral, Fla.
Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran speaks alongside Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, rear right, Fla. Sen. Manny Diaz Jr., left, state legislators, parents and educators, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, at the Doral Academy Preparatory School in Doral, Fla.
Wilfredo Lee/AP