Senator Raffy Tulfo on Thursday expressed alarm over the continued increase in the number of people diagnosed with autism in the country, which include even those without family history of autism.

Tulfo noted that data from the Department of Health (DOH) showed that in 2008 the number of autism cases reached 500,000, but after a decade it ballooned to 1 million cases or doubled after 10 years.

As such, the senator is pushing for swift congressional passage of Senate Bill (SB) 752, or the “Autism Cooperation, Accountability, Research, Education and Support (CARES) Act of 2022” filed in July 2022, which seeks to address and increase support for persons with autism.

It also seeks to protect persons with autism from discrimination and provide them with equal employment opportunities, as well as comfortable accommodation in accessing all types of transportation.

“The time is now upang seryosohin ng pamahalaan ang problema sa autism at kumilos na talaga para hanapan ito ng solusyon. Komprehensibong research and development ang kailangan para malaman ang mga susunod na hakbang (It’s about time that the government take autism problem seriously, look for a solution. Comprehensive research and development is needed to determine the next step to undertake),” Tulfo in a statement said.

He noted that while experts in different parts of the world continue to conduct studies and research about autism, they are yet to find a scientific answer as to what causes autism in a baby.

Under his proposed measure, the DOH, in collaboration with other government agencies, is tasked with conducting evidence-based research and epidemiological surveys to determine the cause, find medicine, and provide proper help and government subsidies to the families of persons with autism.

Also, the DOH and the Department of Education (DepEd) are mandated to create a program for early screening and detection for children with developmental delays that can be attributed to autism. This is also a way to ensure that the central PWD (person with disability) registry is updated. (PNA)

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