October 3, 2011

Combating Autism Reauthorization Act (CARA)

Posted in My Take on Autism tagged , , , , , , , , at 10:54 am by autismmommytherapist

This past week, several momentous events occurred in the lives of the McCafferty clan. One came in the form of a wedding ceremony between my aunt and her fiancé, which I will write about soon, and probably deserves its own entire blog (not just an entry) for the richness of the story that accompanies it. The second event, which I admit will affect slightly more people, was the passing of CARA (the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act), this past September 30th.

Let’s just say champagne toasts ensued for both.

For those of you not familiar with the law, I’ll tell you that CARA was first passed by Congress back in December of 2006, under the tenure of George W. Bush. This law authorized almost a billion dollars of funding to invest in autism treatments, research, and diagnosis, and you can read more about it if you so choose at: http://www.autismvotes.org/site/c.frKNI3PCImE/b.6376831/k.ACFC/CARA.htm

I can actually remember learning of its passing in the news (and the fact that I’ve retained this information from five years ago is nothing short of remarkable). I recall thinking that finally, finally, our community was being given what amounts to a formidable amount of money, with the accompanying hope of alleviating some of the most difficult aspects of this disorder.

And believe me, we have needed every penny.

A number of other bloggers have already written beautifully about this subject, most notably Jess at DiaryofaMom. Since I have no desire to attempt to reinvent the wheel, I won’t discuss today what the elongation of this law means to me. Let’s just suffice it to say after living there for fifteen years, I consider Washington to be my second home, and I am really, truly proud that Congress collectively stood up and reauthorized an act that will bring solace to thousands of families in this country.

I am certain our Senators and Congressmen will sleep more soundly now.

Today, I will not be penning a soliloquy here on all the myriad ways this law will bring relief, from the scientists creating drugs that will hopefully mitigate some of the more daunting aspects of autism, to the pediatricians seeking to diagnose our children earlier, or even just to parents simply trying to make it through an exceptionally trying day. I would like however to personally thank two specific Congressman, Senator Robert Menendez, and Representative Chris Smith, both from my home state of New Jersey, for the collective roles they have played in both its creation and implementation.

Senator Menendez was instrumental in getting the bill passed into law half a decade ago, and followed through later by lobbying successfully to implement New Jersey’s healthcare reform bill, which enabled thousands of residents of the Garden State to petition their insurance companies for coverage of previously denied therapies. As I’ve written before, although this coverage did not extend to us because my husband’s insurance originates in a different state through his employer (yes, I’m still a little bitter), I was, and remain, thrilled for the families whose often overwhelming bills have been significantly reduced. I actually know a number of those who have directly benefited from its passing.

It’s a beautiful thing to see a mom able to focus on potty training rather than worrying about how to put food on the table.

I’d also like to praise Representative Smith, who himself introduced the CARA bill to the House of Representatives, and whose initial advocacy for autism spans over three entire decades.  Congressman Smith has more than willingly lent an ear to the needs of this particular community, and has relentlessly sought relief for us through written legal means. He first listened to the pleas of two of our area’s fiercest autism advocates, Billy and Bobbie Gallager, over fifteen years ago, which resulted in his personally spearheading many of the bills which continue to aid the residents of a state where autism affects one in sixty boys. He continues to remain a vital force for legislative reform.

And yes, I said one in sixty.

Finally, I’d just like to extend my deep appreciation, to both Senator Menendez, and to Representative Smith. Through your dedication to our cause, and your relentless advocacy, you have brought both aid and relief to many families in my native state.  For your collective time and effort, I am extremely grateful. I’d also like to mention I make a mean jambalaya (it remains my only “mean” dish), and should either of you have a hankering for the taste of the low country, please let me know. I even have Tupperware for left-overs.

In the off-chance that this hankering does not occur, know that I simply, and humbly, thank you both.


  1. Mom said,

    I think you should send this to their offices. It is well-written, and I am sure they would appreciate it. Good job daughter.

  2. Kathy said,

    That is awesome news!! So glad to hear it!

  3. Misifusa said,

    Excellent…I thank you and them as well.

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