Last week, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing about the Federal response to autism spectrum disorder (http://oversight.house.gov/hearing/examining-federal-response-autism-spectrum-disorders/ ).  The hearing largely focused on the current state of autism research and was triggered, in part, by a report released  by the Government Accountability Office (http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/659147.pdf ) last November.  This report showed that 84% of autism research programs were potentially duplicative of each other.  The debate over whether duplication is a good thing when it comes to research, and whether these projects are in fact duplicative of one another, was a lively one.

The hearing and report come at a time when Congress is beginning to focus on reauthorizing the “Combating Autism Act” (CAA) which first authorized the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC).  The House recently introduced a bill to reauthorize the CAA (http://beta.congress.gov/113/bills/hr4631/BILLS-113hr4631ih.pdf  ) and the Senate is poised to introduce its own version.  While there are several points of contention in reauthorizing this bill (not the least of which is the tittle, which many find offensive to people with an autism spectrum disorder) most advocacy groups, including AOTA,  (http://c-c-d.org/fichiers/CCD-letter-for-CAA-reauthorization-April-2-2014.pdf ) do not want to see the programs authorized under this bill expire.  

- Heather Parsons