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State Government News

Republican Lawmaker: More Autism Training Needed

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Children and Young People's Research Network/flickr
A bill still wending its way through the legislature could increase the number of people trained to work with autistic children.

A $3 million state program to support treatment of autism in children will continue under a social services bill making its way through the legislature. But one backer wants a change in how the money is spent.   

Mount Pleasant Republican David Heaton says the program has faltered, not through lack of interest, but through lack of expertise in treating autism.       

“We started this program two years ago to provide specialized treatment to children with autism,”  Heaton says.  “We have not been able to reach as many families as I had hoped because we have a shortage of trained providers.”  

Under an amended House bill, a third of the program's budget would go to train experts in the field.   

“The amendment directs $1 million to expand access to this vital service,” Heaton says.   

Higher education students would receive grants to become certified as behavior analysts who then go on to help autistic children.    

The House Health and Human Services budget bill goes back to the Senate, which so far has not addressed designating funding for the proposed training.