NH-LEND Trainees Advocate for Autism in Washington
The number of children diagnosed with autism has risen dramatically in recent years, from 1 in 10,000 in the 1970s to 1 in 150 today. Because of this trend, autism has become a topic of significant public interest, seeing coverage in the news, on talk shows, and even in the halls of Congress. Our government has made strides toward addressing the trend, proposing that millions of dollars be allocated for autism research, screening, early detection and intervention, and for support systems, but those funds have yet to be made available for public use.
Members of the New Hampshire Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental & Related Disabilities (NH-LEND) training program recently had the opportunity to make their voices heard in support of more federal funding for autism services and supports. While attending the annual Disability Policy Seminar in Washington, D.C., the trainees spoke with Senator Judd Gregg’s staff about supporting the appropriations for the Combating Autism Act and the Expanding the Promise for Individuals with Autism Act.
"It was a lot of work to prepare our statement," said Trish Cox, NH-LEND trainee, "but we chose to address these acts because of the
strong personal experiences we've had related
NH-LEND trainees participate in the Seacoast Child Development Clinic, an inter-disciplinary evaluation service for children with developmental disabilities, including children with autism spectrum disorders.
"Having firsthand experience with children who experience autism and their families has made a big impression on the group," said Rae Sonnenmeier, UNH clinical assistant professor and NH-LEND coordinator. "I thought they did a fabulous job of identifying key points and telling a cohesive story in order to request more funding. This trip was critically important to the trainees’ understanding that they can have an effect on public policy."
To learn more about the Seacoast
Child Development Clinic, visit