1.The Legislature finds and declares that:
a.An autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disorder of brain function which is typically manifested in impaired social interaction, problems with verbal and nonverbal communication and imagination, and unusual or severely limited activities and interests. These symptoms generally appear during the first three years of childhood and continue throughout life, often taking devastating emotional and financial tolls on the family of the child or adult with an autism spectrum disorder;
b.According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, one of every 94 children in this State has an autism spectrum disorder, which is the highest rate among the states examined by the CDC in the most comprehensive study of the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders to date;
c.There is a clear need for greater accuracy in reporting as well as for information on the epidemiologic data on the incidence and prevalence of autism spectrum disorders in this State; and
d.The State currently requires that a number of other conditions, including cancer and certain birth defects, be reported and maintained in a central registry. A similar requirement for reporting diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder, as well as providing for the inclusion on a voluntary basis of information about adults with an autism spectrum disorder who opt to be included in a registry of that information, and maintaining such a registry is needed to improve current knowledge and understanding of autism spectrum disorders, to conduct thorough and complete epidemiologic surveys of these disorders, to enable analysis of this problem, and to plan for and provide services to children and adults with an autism spectrum disorder and their families.
L.2007, c.170, s.1; amended 2009, c.204, s.2.