The state of Michigan on Monday unveiled a plan to address the needs of residents with autism.
The Michigan Department of Community Health released the Michigan Autism Spectrum Disorders State Plan, which calls for more early screening, better training for primary care providers, a state information clearinghouse and more, according to Michigan Radio.
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"Today marks another significant day for Michigan and our efforts to help families and individuals with autism," Lt. Gov. Brian Calley said. "It was an honor to sign the autism insurance legislation last year and I'm glad to see that our efforts have not stopped there. We have a great opportunity in front of us with this plan. I'm eager to see the progress Michigan will continue to make."
Calley, who has a daughter with autism, signed a bill in 2012 that mandates insurance companies provide autism treatment coverage for children, according to The Detroit News.
The Michigan Department of Community Health has not laid out a time line for when the plan will be implemented, the newspaper reported, but many in the community were enthusiastic about the news, which drew some "Likes" and comments on the Brighton Patch Facebook page .
"It's a *step* (in the right direction), but there are still nowhere near enough resources available," Erika Warner wrote on the Facebook page. "Perhaps with the right training, primary care providers can provide much of the care for higher functioning kids but right now it's all but impossible to get into programs because of the demand."
Lisa Raymond Hall wrote, "I think early screening is imperative to getting the kids the help they need, but what good does the screening do if they can't get the help because the programs are full or they have to drive hours to get to one or they can't afford to pay for it?"
Other residents questioned the use of mercury in vaccinations and genetically modified foods.
"What needs to be done is to take mercury out of vaccinations," MaryBeth Potrykus wrote. "Too many vaccinations at one time for babies and toddlers is ridiculous. Another thing is for our country to STOP making genetically modified food. This is what is causing so many health issues. Then doctors want to prescribe something to offset what our food is doing to all of us. Lets prevent versus looking for a cure. For those who have autism, get protein, fish oils, fiber and fresh fruits/veggies in their diet. I understand it is challenging, but believe in my heart it can be done."
The plan will address the needs of 16,000 students with ASD in Michigan public schools and 50,000 individuals living with ASD throughout the state, a State of Michigan press release said.
Autism Spectrum Disorders – which include autism, Asperger syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder and Rett syndrome – are neurological impairments that cause social, communication and behavioral challenges, the Michigan Autism Program says. One in 88 children in the United States falls on the spectrum, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Visit michigan.gov/autism to learn more.