Sanchez, Policy Committee focus on autism awareness

ABINGTON, Oct. 2 – State Rep. Ben Sanchez, D-Montgomery, today hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee hearing on autism awareness at the Abington School District Administration Building.

Sanchez requested the hearing to discuss what the state legislature could do to increase the understanding and acceptance of individuals on the autism spectrum, and to discuss his Autism Spectrum Disorder Designation legislation. Testifiers and lawmakers looked at methods to help students with autism succeed academically and socially, and resources available to families with a loved one on the autism spectrum. Sanchez was joined by legislators from across the state, including Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster.

“I want to thank today’s testifiers for sharing their insight on how we can better serve Pennsylvanians on the autism spectrum. Creating an open dialog on the subject allows us lawmakers to return to Harrisburg with new ideas on how we can help them thrive from a legislative standpoint,” Sanchez said. “As elected officials, it is our job to ensure we understand and meet the unique needs of every constituent we represent.”

Sturla added: “Raising awareness on the subject is crucial because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that one in 59 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. With the growing prevalence of this disorder, we must do more to ensure that each of these individuals has the tools that they need to reach their full potential and lead productive lives.”

The committee heard testimony from Stacy Nonnemacher, clinical director for the Office of Developmental Disabilities, Pennsylvania Department of Human Services; Patricia Golden, outreach specialist, Montgomery County Office of Developmental Disabilities; Judy Bomze, director of student services, Abington School District; and Joe McCleery, executive director of academic programs, Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support.

The meeting was one in a series held across the state on House Democrats’ Plan4PA, focused on putting people first, good jobs, healthcare access, quality schools and jobs training, and a fair economy. Additional information about the plan is available at www.plan4pa.com. Hearing testimony and video will be available at www.pahouse.com/policycommittee