Title 16

Chapter 24.1
The Rhode Island Autism Spectrum Disorder Education Act

R.I. Gen. Laws § 16-24.1-2

§ 16-24.1-2. Legislative findings.

It is hereby found and declared as follows:

(a) Autism is a neurobiological, developmental disorder that is defined by behavioral and development features.

(b) Autism is best characterized as a spectrum of disorders that vary in severity of symptoms, age of onset and association with other disorders (e.g. mental retardation, specific language delay, epilepsy) and are unique in their pattern of deficits and areas of relative strengths. They generally have lifelong effects on how children learn to be social beings, to care for themselves, and to participate in the community.

(c) The incidence of autism has dramatically increased. In 1992, one in ten thousand (10,000) children were diagnosed with “ASD”, yet currently one in one hundred fifty (150) children have this disorder.

(d) Children and youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) offer unique challenges to families, teachers and others who work with them, particularly with nonverbal and verbal communication and behavior problems.

(e) Medical and psychological experts still do not know the causes of “ASD”, prevention of “ASD” or unified strategies dealing with children and adults afflicted with such disorder.

(f) Education, both directly of children and youth, and of parents and teachers, is currently the primary form of treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

(g) The education of children and youth with ASD is accepted as a public responsibility. However, goals, methods and resources available vary greatly from school system to school system, school to school, and class to class.

(h) Education is defined as the fostering of the acquisition of skills or knowledge- including not only academic learning, but also socialization, adaptive skills, language and communication, and reduction of behavior problems to assist the child to develop independence and social responsibility.

(i) “ASD” exacts an enormous economic toll on society, including the public school system and family finances.

(j) The Autism Society of America estimates that the lifetime cost of caring for a child with autism ranges from three million five hundred thousand dollars ($3,500,000) to five million dollars ($5,000,000), and that the United States is facing almost ninety billion dollars ($90,000,000,000) annually in costs for autism.

History of Section.
P.L. 2009, ch. 201, § 2.