Blunt Proposes Autism Funding

1 decade 1 year 7 months ago Monday, February 19 2007 Feb 19, 2007 Monday, February 19, 2007 3:49:32 PM CST February 19, 2007 in News

Blunt's plan would affect Missourians like Thomas Cleek. He has mild autism, but that doesn't stop him from doing the same things as other children his age.

"Thomas is in regular school. He's in the first grade at Mill Creek. He's going to school with other kids, playing on the baseball team, he's playing on the basketball team. He still has special needs, but he's made tremendous progress," said John Cleek, Thomas' grandfather. said.

The nearly $4 million increase is on top of the $3.4 million currently in the budget. More than half of the increase would go to reduce the time it takes to get diagnosis and treatment.

"We believe that it is enough to virtually eliminate the waiting list and will have a very significant impact on the number of children and families we're able to serve," Blunt explained.

The state serves more than 4,200 people with autism, and more than 150 children and adolescents are still on the waiting list. Blunt says it could take six to nine months to get children the help they need.

"Gov. Blunt has taken the forefront on this, recognize that there is a real, real need for more funding for autism, when you think that one out of every 150 children need these kinds of services," Cleek said.

The new numbers, released last week, show the autism problem to be bigger than ever measured before. The plan is part of the governor's overall budget proposal. The state legislature must still approve it. Blunt also stopped in Joplin, Kansas City, and St. Louis to outline his proposed plan.

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