Staff and volunteers at Autism Delaware’s Sussex County offices welcomed Sen. Tom Carper, who visited the agency April 18 in recognition of Autism Awareness Month.

During the visit, Carper toured the offices, met participants in Autism Delaware’s adult vocational program, POW&R — for Productive Opportunities for Work and Recreation — and sat down with staff representatives and families to talk about legislative issues impacting services for the autism community, specifically reauthorization of the federal Autism Cares Act.

Passed in 2006 during the administration of then-President George W. Bush, the law’s purpose is to increase the federal government’s response to the growing number of individuals diagnosed with autism. Under the law’s state implementation plan, Delaware’s grant, known as HRSA, ends in August, and an application for renewed funding is in process. If renewed, the grant would go toward family support and provider education. It would also address issues across the lifespan, including health, employment and inclusion for adults — a matter of particular concern expressed by the parents at the meeting, all of whom were parents of adult children on the spectrum.

“With Congress out of session this week, I have the opportunity to do what I enjoy most — traveling up and down the First State to meet with constituents and organizations doing great work for Delawareans, including Autism Delaware,” said Carper. “I’m so appreciative of this hard-working staff and the families that volunteer their time to make a difference in the lives of so many in Delaware and around the country who are impacted by autism. I will continue to work with my colleagues in Washington to make sure patient advocacy organizations like this one have the support they need to continue their important missions.”

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