Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

July 11, 2007


Host: Jose Cardenas

Autism Society of America Conference


  • More than 1,400 people will gather in Scottsdale this week for the Autism Society of America’s national conference. Find out more about the event and this developmental disorder that, according to the Centers for Disease Control, affects an estimated 1 in 150 births.
Guests:
  • Phil Lopes - State Representative, Democrat
  • Jorge Luis Garcia - State Senator and Senate's Assistant Minority Leader
Category: Medical/Health

View Transcript
>> Jose Cardenas:
Tonight on "Horizon," more and more children are diagnosed with autism. We'll find out more about this developmental disorder that's the subject of a national conference taking place in Scottsdale this week. And democratic leaders of the state legislature are here to talk about their recent accomplishments at the state capitol. Those stories are next on "Horizon."

>> Announcer:
"Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the friends of 8. Members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

>> Jose Cardenas:
Good evening, I'm Jose Cardenas. Welcome to "Horizon." last night we heard from Republican leaders. Tonight it's the Democrats' turn. Joining me with their thoughts on the legislative session are Representative Phil Lopes, the leader of the House Democrats. And, Senator Jorge Luis Garcia, the Senate's Assistant Minority Leader. Both state lawmakers are from Tucson. Thank you for joining us on horizon.

>> Rep. Phil Lopes:
You're welcome.

>> Jose Cardenas:
One thing that was different that legislative session was there was more of you. With respect to the house--I mean the House of Representatives, what difference did that make to have more Democratics?

>> Rep Phil Lopes:
It was major. Jose, we had a legitimate full-fledged voice in the development of the budget. Prior to this year, prior to having 27 of 60 members, our voice in the budget was small and had to be carried totally by others. Because we had the numbers we had, and the senate Democratics had the numbers they had, it was clear to the people developing the budget--or at least most of the people developing the budget, since our votes were needed, we needed to be brought in the process. That's the major result.

>> Jose Cardenas:
Senator Garcia, the Democratics picked up a seat in the last elections. How much effect did that have?

>> Sen. Jorge Luis Garcia:
That was day and night of the previous year. We were not involved in the budget negotiations. This year we were in the thick of it.

>> Jose Cardenas:
In terms of impact if we look at the budget, it was a fairly modest spending increase. But Representative Lopes, what do you think was the priority.

>> Rep. Phil Lopes:
One was to increase teacher pay. One was greater use of highway funds, different use of highway funds, domestic violence shelters. Those were the biggies.

>> Jose Cardenas:
And Senator, those I would assume the House would agree were good things to have in the budget--I mean the Senate would agree were good things to have in this budget but were things left out that was important to the democratic caucus and the senate?

>> Sen. Jorge Luis Garcia:
Yes, particularly to me. There were three items. One of them, Senator Lopes, teacher salary increase. Even though there's money for teacher salary what they proposed was a minimum of teacher salary of 35,000 a year. That will not come about. That will come about if the school districts themselves agree that's a good policy for them. They will get the additional money but not necessarily spend it on teacher's salaries. From my perspective, it would have been better to earmark that money strictly for teacher salaries and have a minimum teacher salary at $35,000. Second item that's a big disappoint is the Flores. The failure of the legislature to resolve Flores, the litigation English language learners.

>> Jose Cardenas:
I feel I should mention that I have involvement in that case.

>> Sen. Jorge Luis Garcia:
This lawsuit has been going on--I think it's in its 15th year. The majority is refusing to the deal with the issue and they are basically going to deal with it when the judge finally tells them they have to deal with it just as they have done with the seriously mentally ill and five decades ago with the developmentally disabled. The judge told them they had to deal with the populations that are vulnerable. And the English language learner is a vulnerable population that needs to be dealt with.

>> Jose Cardenas:
Are there disappointments?

>> Sen. Jorge Luis Garcia:
That one was, too. Another one was the Governor of the state proposed increasing the eligibility threshold for children under the state's Medicaid system, kids care, from 200\% to 350\% poverty level. That didn't come to fruition. That didn't get a good debate.

>> Jose Cardenas:
Representative Lopes, what were the positions of the House on some of the issues the Senator just mentioned?

>> Rep. Phil Lopes:
Our position was the same as the Senate's position. We're disappointed about the English language learner's and the teacher's salaries. Another disappointment on our high priority list that didn't happen was the reduction of class size of kindergarten through third grade. We felt strongly if we could reduce that class size, that would result in children learning more and better. Unfortunately reducing class size is one of physical plant. What we were able to do--even though we were not able to get reduction in class size--we were able to insert a statutory committee with the requirement that they study the cost of and how to actually implement and address that physical plant issue in the K-3 class size reduction. We hope that will get attention.

>> Jose Cardenas:
Going back to the issue of minimum teacher salaries, if the school districts don't use the money to do that, what do you anticipate will be the reaction at the next legislative session?

>> Rep. Phil Lopes:
A lot of anger at least and beating up on people who don't do with it what the money was intended to do. It's not totally hypothetical because it happened before -- in our own district.

>> Jose Cardenas:
Why not conditions attached?

>> Rep. Phil Lopes:
It's a number of things. For me, the major one is in a -- locally elected school boards are autonomous entities and they should be able to determine things like teacher salaries. We have an interest in that because we think that's important. It's a clash of areas. And I find it difficult to get into a position where we are dictating to a freely elected school board. That's what we would be doing if we actually dictated those minimum salaries. So it's a bit of a dilemma. I can envision that if it happens again, i.e., school districts don't in fact use the money for the purpose in which it was intended, next time we'll look at it differently.

>> Jose Cardenas:
Something else high on your priority list was kids care. There are gag rules, getting rid of that?

>> Rep: Phil Lopes:
That's right.

>> Jose Cardenas:
Tell me about that.

>> Rep. Phil Lopes:
The so-called gag rule is using schools as a location to disseminate application information, enrollment information to kids that might be eligible for kids care. As Senator Garcia mentioned earlier, it's a health insurance program for low-income kids. What the gag rule did was prevented kids care from using schools as points of dissemination of information about kids care. That gag rule was removed as a result of this budget. We're very happy about that. We think the result will be that more kids who need healthcare will get the information about kids care.

>> Jose Cardenas:
Senator Garcia, a lot of the action towards the end of the legislation session had to do with employer sanctions. It seemed like most of the discussion was taking place in the House. What was the position of senate Democrats on this?

>> Sen. Jorge Luis Garcia:
As it turned out most folks decided to go on their own as most of the time we are allowed to go on our own. We tell you that there was--I'd say one-third of us voted against the employer sanctions not necessarily opposing the sanctions themselves but opposing probably the most ugly part of the bill and that is the immigrant who is here without documents is going to get to go to prison from three to seven years. And we tried stripping that off of the process but we were not successful.

>> Jose Cardenas:
The governor herself when she signed the bill, said there were flaws in it and indicated a willingness--more than indicated said she was willing to call a special session if legislative leadership was willing to go along. Do you think we'll see a special session?

>> Sen. Jorge Luis Garcia:
I hope not. You know, I know that I suspect her interests are not my interests. Her interests are trying to include the exceptions for your critical industries. My interests are trying to eliminate that ugly part of the bill which basically says that immigrants will go to jail for seven years.

>> Jose Cardenas:
One of flaws she pointed out was there was no provision in there to make sure that the people who are here with appropriate documentation are discriminated against as a result of this. Isn't that something the senate Democrats are behind?

>> Sen. Jorge Luis Garcia:
That will happen already. It's going to be open season on us Mexican's.

>> Jose Cardenas:
You think the profiling and discrimination is going to occur?

>> Sen. Jorge Luis Garcia:
Definitely.

>> Jose Cardenas:
Representative Lopes, what does the special session cost?

>> Rep. Phil Lopes:
We don't have costs on that. I don't think a special session will take place. Because when you look at it from the perspective of the proponents of the employer sanctions and 11 democrats--by the way in the house voted against it--when you look at special session from the perspective of the proponents, they are saying we have a bill here that we like. If anybody messes with it, we have a initiative going out on the street. It doesn't seem like there would be any interest on the proponents' part to sit down and make changes. Even though I go with the Governor, I think a lot of the changes would be good. I don't see a possible scenario in which they would agree to some of the changes that she suggested in her veto letter. It doesn't seem like it's in their best interest. They have been wanting to do it for years. That is a nasty and mean thing. It's there and it's law now. I just don't think anything is going to happen regarding a special session. Hopefully there will be somebody--a court challenge to some of this. I think there's some possibility that some of this stuff is not legal. Possibility, I'm not a lawyer. Hopefully there will be some challenge of that kind. I think it's more likely that sort of thing will happen rather than a special session.

>> Jose Cardenas:
Speaking with divisiveness, there were several attempts at the beginning of the legislative session with opposition and visits where the Speaker of the House tried to peel off the Democrats and members of Democratic caucus and in the end he had some willing to vote for his budget. What can you tell us about that? What kind of insights do you have on that?

>> Rep. Phil Lopes:
My perspective is--not advice--my perspective is the Speaker has never been in a position where he had this many Democrats in a chamber. I think throughout the session, it was never clear that he understood how to deal with that--those numbers. And I think what he did was, he attempted to deal with it in a way that historically may have worked but the difference this time was the remainder of the caucus was highly unified and highly together. So any attempt to split the caucus in that way, we didn't think would work. And in the time analysis did not work. But also in the final analysis our entire caucus voted for the budget as it was negotiated by the Senate.

>> Jose Cardenas:
Senator Garcia, I think you'll get the last word. We have a bit more than 30 seconds left. Your overall observations about this particular legislative session.

>> Sen. Jorge Luis Garcia:
It's been a productive one. It's been a good session but with some ugliness in it, you know. Every session there's bitterness in it. I think overall it's been productive. I'm very thankful for President B to reaching out to the Democrats to working with us to get the work of the people done.

>> Jose Cardenas:
We have to leave it at that. Thank you for joining us gentleman.

>>> Jose Cardenas:
A recent report from the centers for disease control estimates that autism affects one in every 150 births in our nation. As David Majure reports, experts, families and individuals with autism are in Scottsdale this week to talk about how to handle what the autism society of America calls a growing national health crisis.

>> Marguerite Colston:
We have 110 concurrent sessions, 120 speakers from all over the United States.

>> David Majure:
It's one of the largest conferences on autism in the world. The Autism Society of America's 38th national conference at the Westin resort in Scottsdale.

>> Marguerite Colston:
A place to come to help your child with autism.

>> David Majure:
It's a huge event focused on a growing problem.

>> Marguerite Colston:
In February the C.D.C. Found one in 150 children born in the U.S. Today would have autism disorder. We estimate that's 1.5 million Americans.

>> David Majure:
A couple thousand people are expected to attend the ASA conference including experts, families, and people with autism like 19-year-old Kerry Magro, a New Jersey resident who's looking forward to college.

>> Kerry Magro:
I'm stoked about it.

>> David Majure:
He's here as a winner of a scholarship sponsored by the ASA and a CVS Pharmacy, which he will put toward his studies at Seton Hall University.

>> Kerry Magro:
I was diagnosed with autism when I was 4 years old. Basically what it does, it makes you unable to really communicate that well. A lot of people should know about autism because there are a lot of ways to help it and there are a lot of schools and there's help and aid. I went to a really, like, helpful high school, community high school which is for kids with learning disabilities. It helped me so much to learn about some ways to help myself with my communication and to become more verbal. I think people should learn a little bit more about it. There are a lot of ways you can Internet, and everything.

>> David Majure:
Scottsdale residents Mary and David Gendreau are here to learn from other families with adult autistic children like their daughter Yvette.

>>David Gendreau:
We have a daughter who is 42 in December. She's autistic. We didn't find out until she was 29 years old. Back then autism was considered an orphan mental disease.

>> Marguerite Colston:
The main thing I want people to understand about autism--I'm a mom and have a son with Autism--is that there is so much progress to be made if these children are treated and identified early. If you can identify your child as autism as early as one or two, there's a 60\% chance that that child can participate in normal school settings and later on in life live productive lives, have jobs, but we've got to identify it early, and we've got to get them services.

>> David Majure:
The autism society's conference is a pretty good place to start.

>> Jose Cardenas:
Yesterday, Richard Ruelas had an opportunity to talk with Lee Grossman, president and CEO of the autism society of America. Here is that interview.

>> Richard Ruelas:
Thanks for joining us. The conference takes place this week in Scottsdale. Just give us a brief background on autism, what it is and how it is diagnosed and what are the symptoms.

>> Lee Grossman:
Autism is a genetically-based neurological condition. At this point in time, we don't know what causes autism and there's no cure for autism. It's something that is diagnosed through behavioral symptoms, through psychiatric behavioral symptoms. And the treatment generally is done to help these children and adults, is through behavioral intervention, psychosocial treatments and education. What we do know about autism now is that it looks as though it can be described also as a chronic medical condition. And that it seems as though it affects other parts of the body which contribute to the behavioral symptoms that these individuals will have.

>> Richard Ruelas:
Behavioral symptoms seem to be all over the map as far as severity. What kind of examples?

>> Lee Grossman:
Autism is called a spectrum disorder and the reason is along the continuum of autism, each person will have different symptoms and different behaviors and different levels of severity. Some people will be able to cope fairly well and perhaps go to college and have families. Those are on the higher end of the spectrum. On the lower end of the spectrum, people have severe neurological issues and may be self-abusive and in some cases violent and certainly are having a very difficult time in their lives. Regardless of where you are on the spectrum, the need for services generally will be required throughout the lifetime.

>> Richard Ruelas:
But the common elements might be disassociation in conversation or disassociation with the senses?

>> Lee Grossman:
With autism there's fairly characteristic behaviors that most individuals have. For a parent that is looking at their child and some of the things they would first want to notice or may notice is that the child is not making adequate eye contact or no eye contact. They seem to avoid them. There's some stereo-typical behaviors where they become obsessed with objects or a book as if they can't be drawn away from it. Generally, there's a difficulty in transitioning from one activity to another and also a disassociation with their peers and relationships they may be having with other people.

>> Richard Ruelas:
Seems like there's an increase in the number of diagnoses of autism. Is that getting better at spotting it or something environmental leading to cases being found?

>> Lee Grossman:
I guess the answer to all of that is yes. We don't know what is causing the tremendous increase in autism. When we look at the fact that public awareness is involved in this which means it's being diagnosed much better--that the physicians are calling it out in a much better way--when we look at just the growing number of people and we put all this together, it still doesn't add up to what this dramatic increase is in the incidents of autism. The C.D.C. announced in February it now affects one in 150 births.

>> Richard Ruelas:
This is in previous?

>> Lee Grossman:
Previous it was one in 166 was what their guesstimate was. Of that, because of a high incident rate in boys, now, were really looking at about one out of one hundred boys will have it.

>> Richard Ruelas:
And in previous generations it was?

>> Lee Grossman:
I have a son with autism. When he was first diagnosed in 1992, we were saying one in 750. Then they said one in 500. Now I don't know if it's because we didn't know as much about it. Certainly along that period the description of autism has expanded greatly. The idea of spectrum disorder has increased the range of people being diagnosed. Adding all those issues together, still doesn't come close to equaling this incidence that we see. We're suggesting that there has to be an environmental component. It makes common sense that environmental factors are playing a major role in these incidents.

>> Richard Ruelas:
The conference this week, usually these things are medical heavy or for doctors, these seemed to be geared heavily towards parents, parents with autistic children.

>> Lee Grossman:
Attendees are 50\% professionals and 50\% families. What is happening in autism and what has always happened in autism, the primary intervention and services for the children and adults with autism has been through education, psychosocial and behavioral interventions. Now we're seeing a great interest from the medical community to look at it as a chronic medical condition and we're seeing more professional on that side come into it as well as the educators, behaviorist, speech pathologists and occupational therapists.

>>Richard Ruelas:
It doesn't seem like hands-on advice in the seminars of dealing with a child with--an autistic child?

>> Lee Grossman:
Our conference covers everything about autism. We have approximately 120 different speakers and 80 presentations, educational issues and support mechanisms and entire life span. Our conference has more topics regarding adult issues which is where the majority of the cost and treatment overall for autism is and where the majority of time people with autism spend their lives than any other conference.

>> Richard Ruelas:
If there is some interest on people attending the conference, are there day passes or how does it work?

>> Lee Grossman:
Our conference runs through Saturday. There are day passes that can be purchased. Any day that somebody comes, they're going to find a wealth of experience. It's a very uplifting, fun conference. We make it enjoyable for all the attendees. The presenters that we have at the conference are the best of the best that are available of autism. Anyone who attends will learn a lot and be inspired.

>> Jose Cardenas:
The Autism Society of America's national conference continues through Saturday in Scottsdale. More information is available online at the address on your screen.

>> Jose Cardenas:
Thanks for joining us on this Wednesday evening. I'm Jose Cardenas. We'll see you tomorrow night.

Legislative Wrap-up: Democratic Leaders


  • Democratic leaders from the Arizona House and Senate talk about accomplishments and failures during the legislative session that wrapped-up in June.
Guests:
  • Phil Lopes - State Representative, Democrat
  • Jorge Luis Garcia - State Senator and Senate's Assistant Minority Leader
Category: Legislature

View Transcript
>> Jose Cardenas:
Tonight on "Horizon," more and more children are diagnosed with autism. We'll find out more about this developmental disorder that's the subject of a national conference taking place in Scottsdale this week. And democratic leaders of the state legislature are here to talk about their recent accomplishments at the state capitol. Those stories are next on "Horizon."

>> Announcer:
"Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the friends of 8. Members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

>> Jose Cardenas:
Good evening, I'm Jose Cardenas. Welcome to "Horizon." last night we heard from Republican leaders. Tonight it's the Democrats' turn. Joining me with their thoughts on the legislative session are Representative Phil Lopes, the leader of the House Democrats. And, Senator Jorge Luis Garcia, the Senate's Assistant Minority Leader. Both state lawmakers are from Tucson. Thank you for joining us on horizon.

>> Rep. Phil Lopes:
You're welcome.

>> Jose Cardenas:
One thing that was different that legislative session was there was more of you. With respect to the house--I mean the House of Representatives, what difference did that make to have more Democratics?

>> Rep Phil Lopes:
It was major. Jose, we had a legitimate full-fledged voice in the development of the budget. Prior to this year, prior to having 27 of 60 members, our voice in the budget was small and had to be carried totally by others. Because we had the numbers we had, and the senate Democratics had the numbers they had, it was clear to the people developing the budget--or at least most of the people developing the budget, since our votes were needed, we needed to be brought in the process. That's the major result.

>> Jose Cardenas:
Senator Garcia, the Democratics picked up a seat in the last elections. How much effect did that have?

>> Sen. Jorge Luis Garcia:
That was day and night of the previous year. We were not involved in the budget negotiations. This year we were in the thick of it.

>> Jose Cardenas:
In terms of impact if we look at the budget, it was a fairly modest spending increase. But Representative Lopes, what do you think was the priority.

>> Rep. Phil Lopes:
One was to increase teacher pay. One was greater use of highway funds, different use of highway funds, domestic violence shelters. Those were the biggies.

>> Jose Cardenas:
And Senator, those I would assume the House would agree were good things to have in the budget--I mean the Senate would agree were good things to have in this budget but were things left out that was important to the democratic caucus and the senate?

>> Sen. Jorge Luis Garcia:
Yes, particularly to me. There were three items. One of them, Senator Lopes, teacher salary increase. Even though there's money for teacher salary what they proposed was a minimum of teacher salary of 35,000 a year. That will not come about. That will come about if the school districts themselves agree that's a good policy for them. They will get the additional money but not necessarily spend it on teacher's salaries. From my perspective, it would have been better to earmark that money strictly for teacher salaries and have a minimum teacher salary at $35,000. Second item that's a big disappoint is the Flores. The failure of the legislature to resolve Flores, the litigation English language learners.

>> Jose Cardenas:
I feel I should mention that I have involvement in that case.

>> Sen. Jorge Luis Garcia:
This lawsuit has been going on--I think it's in its 15th year. The majority is refusing to the deal with the issue and they are basically going to deal with it when the judge finally tells them they have to deal with it just as they have done with the seriously mentally ill and five decades ago with the developmentally disabled. The judge told them they had to deal with the populations that are vulnerable. And the English language learner is a vulnerable population that needs to be dealt with.

>> Jose Cardenas:
Are there disappointments?

>> Sen. Jorge Luis Garcia:
That one was, too. Another one was the Governor of the state proposed increasing the eligibility threshold for children under the state's Medicaid system, kids care, from 200\% to 350\% poverty level. That didn't come to fruition. That didn't get a good debate.

>> Jose Cardenas:
Representative Lopes, what were the positions of the House on some of the issues the Senator just mentioned?

>> Rep. Phil Lopes:
Our position was the same as the Senate's position. We're disappointed about the English language learner's and the teacher's salaries. Another disappointment on our high priority list that didn't happen was the reduction of class size of kindergarten through third grade. We felt strongly if we could reduce that class size, that would result in children learning more and better. Unfortunately reducing class size is one of physical plant. What we were able to do--even though we were not able to get reduction in class size--we were able to insert a statutory committee with the requirement that they study the cost of and how to actually implement and address that physical plant issue in the K-3 class size reduction. We hope that will get attention.

>> Jose Cardenas:
Going back to the issue of minimum teacher salaries, if the school districts don't use the money to do that, what do you anticipate will be the reaction at the next legislative session?

>> Rep. Phil Lopes:
A lot of anger at least and beating up on people who don't do with it what the money was intended to do. It's not totally hypothetical because it happened before -- in our own district.

>> Jose Cardenas:
Why not conditions attached?

>> Rep. Phil Lopes:
It's a number of things. For me, the major one is in a -- locally elected school boards are autonomous entities and they should be able to determine things like teacher salaries. We have an interest in that because we think that's important. It's a clash of areas. And I find it difficult to get into a position where we are dictating to a freely elected school board. That's what we would be doing if we actually dictated those minimum salaries. So it's a bit of a dilemma. I can envision that if it happens again, i.e., school districts don't in fact use the money for the purpose in which it was intended, next time we'll look at it differently.

>> Jose Cardenas:
Something else high on your priority list was kids care. There are gag rules, getting rid of that?

>> Rep: Phil Lopes:
That's right.

>> Jose Cardenas:
Tell me about that.

>> Rep. Phil Lopes:
The so-called gag rule is using schools as a location to disseminate application information, enrollment information to kids that might be eligible for kids care. As Senator Garcia mentioned earlier, it's a health insurance program for low-income kids. What the gag rule did was prevented kids care from using schools as points of dissemination of information about kids care. That gag rule was removed as a result of this budget. We're very happy about that. We think the result will be that more kids who need healthcare will get the information about kids care.

>> Jose Cardenas:
Senator Garcia, a lot of the action towards the end of the legislation session had to do with employer sanctions. It seemed like most of the discussion was taking place in the House. What was the position of senate Democrats on this?

>> Sen. Jorge Luis Garcia:
As it turned out most folks decided to go on their own as most of the time we are allowed to go on our own. We tell you that there was--I'd say one-third of us voted against the employer sanctions not necessarily opposing the sanctions themselves but opposing probably the most ugly part of the bill and that is the immigrant who is here without documents is going to get to go to prison from three to seven years. And we tried stripping that off of the process but we were not successful.

>> Jose Cardenas:
The governor herself when she signed the bill, said there were flaws in it and indicated a willingness--more than indicated said she was willing to call a special session if legislative leadership was willing to go along. Do you think we'll see a special session?

>> Sen. Jorge Luis Garcia:
I hope not. You know, I know that I suspect her interests are not my interests. Her interests are trying to include the exceptions for your critical industries. My interests are trying to eliminate that ugly part of the bill which basically says that immigrants will go to jail for seven years.

>> Jose Cardenas:
One of flaws she pointed out was there was no provision in there to make sure that the people who are here with appropriate documentation are discriminated against as a result of this. Isn't that something the senate Democrats are behind?

>> Sen. Jorge Luis Garcia:
That will happen already. It's going to be open season on us Mexican's.

>> Jose Cardenas:
You think the profiling and discrimination is going to occur?

>> Sen. Jorge Luis Garcia:
Definitely.

>> Jose Cardenas:
Representative Lopes, what does the special session cost?

>> Rep. Phil Lopes:
We don't have costs on that. I don't think a special session will take place. Because when you look at it from the perspective of the proponents of the employer sanctions and 11 democrats--by the way in the house voted against it--when you look at special session from the perspective of the proponents, they are saying we have a bill here that we like. If anybody messes with it, we have a initiative going out on the street. It doesn't seem like there would be any interest on the proponents' part to sit down and make changes. Even though I go with the Governor, I think a lot of the changes would be good. I don't see a possible scenario in which they would agree to some of the changes that she suggested in her veto letter. It doesn't seem like it's in their best interest. They have been wanting to do it for years. That is a nasty and mean thing. It's there and it's law now. I just don't think anything is going to happen regarding a special session. Hopefully there will be somebody--a court challenge to some of this. I think there's some possibility that some of this stuff is not legal. Possibility, I'm not a lawyer. Hopefully there will be some challenge of that kind. I think it's more likely that sort of thing will happen rather than a special session.

>> Jose Cardenas:
Speaking with divisiveness, there were several attempts at the beginning of the legislative session with opposition and visits where the Speaker of the House tried to peel off the Democrats and members of Democratic caucus and in the end he had some willing to vote for his budget. What can you tell us about that? What kind of insights do you have on that?

>> Rep. Phil Lopes:
My perspective is--not advice--my perspective is the Speaker has never been in a position where he had this many Democrats in a chamber. I think throughout the session, it was never clear that he understood how to deal with that--those numbers. And I think what he did was, he attempted to deal with it in a way that historically may have worked but the difference this time was the remainder of the caucus was highly unified and highly together. So any attempt to split the caucus in that way, we didn't think would work. And in the time analysis did not work. But also in the final analysis our entire caucus voted for the budget as it was negotiated by the Senate.

>> Jose Cardenas:
Senator Garcia, I think you'll get the last word. We have a bit more than 30 seconds left. Your overall observations about this particular legislative session.

>> Sen. Jorge Luis Garcia:
It's been a productive one. It's been a good session but with some ugliness in it, you know. Every session there's bitterness in it. I think overall it's been productive. I'm very thankful for President B to reaching out to the Democrats to working with us to get the work of the people done.

>> Jose Cardenas:
We have to leave it at that. Thank you for joining us gentleman.

>>> Jose Cardenas:
A recent report from the centers for disease control estimates that autism affects one in every 150 births in our nation. As David Majure reports, experts, families and individuals with autism are in Scottsdale this week to talk about how to handle what the autism society of America calls a growing national health crisis.

>> Marguerite Colston:
We have 110 concurrent sessions, 120 speakers from all over the United States.

>> David Majure:
It's one of the largest conferences on autism in the world. The Autism Society of America's 38th national conference at the Westin resort in Scottsdale.

>> Marguerite Colston:
A place to come to help your child with autism.

>> David Majure:
It's a huge event focused on a growing problem.

>> Marguerite Colston:
In February the C.D.C. Found one in 150 children born in the U.S. Today would have autism disorder. We estimate that's 1.5 million Americans.

>> David Majure:
A couple thousand people are expected to attend the ASA conference including experts, families, and people with autism like 19-year-old Kerry Magro, a New Jersey resident who's looking forward to college.

>> Kerry Magro:
I'm stoked about it.

>> David Majure:
He's here as a winner of a scholarship sponsored by the ASA and a CVS Pharmacy, which he will put toward his studies at Seton Hall University.

>> Kerry Magro:
I was diagnosed with autism when I was 4 years old. Basically what it does, it makes you unable to really communicate that well. A lot of people should know about autism because there are a lot of ways to help it and there are a lot of schools and there's help and aid. I went to a really, like, helpful high school, community high school which is for kids with learning disabilities. It helped me so much to learn about some ways to help myself with my communication and to become more verbal. I think people should learn a little bit more about it. There are a lot of ways you can Internet, and everything.

>> David Majure:
Scottsdale residents Mary and David Gendreau are here to learn from other families with adult autistic children like their daughter Yvette.

>>David Gendreau:
We have a daughter who is 42 in December. She's autistic. We didn't find out until she was 29 years old. Back then autism was considered an orphan mental disease.

>> Marguerite Colston:
The main thing I want people to understand about autism--I'm a mom and have a son with Autism--is that there is so much progress to be made if these children are treated and identified early. If you can identify your child as autism as early as one or two, there's a 60\% chance that that child can participate in normal school settings and later on in life live productive lives, have jobs, but we've got to identify it early, and we've got to get them services.

>> David Majure:
The autism society's conference is a pretty good place to start.

>> Jose Cardenas:
Yesterday, Richard Ruelas had an opportunity to talk with Lee Grossman, president and CEO of the autism society of America. Here is that interview.

>> Richard Ruelas:
Thanks for joining us. The conference takes place this week in Scottsdale. Just give us a brief background on autism, what it is and how it is diagnosed and what are the symptoms.

>> Lee Grossman:
Autism is a genetically-based neurological condition. At this point in time, we don't know what causes autism and there's no cure for autism. It's something that is diagnosed through behavioral symptoms, through psychiatric behavioral symptoms. And the treatment generally is done to help these children and adults, is through behavioral intervention, psychosocial treatments and education. What we do know about autism now is that it looks as though it can be described also as a chronic medical condition. And that it seems as though it affects other parts of the body which contribute to the behavioral symptoms that these individuals will have.

>> Richard Ruelas:
Behavioral symptoms seem to be all over the map as far as severity. What kind of examples?

>> Lee Grossman:
Autism is called a spectrum disorder and the reason is along the continuum of autism, each person will have different symptoms and different behaviors and different levels of severity. Some people will be able to cope fairly well and perhaps go to college and have families. Those are on the higher end of the spectrum. On the lower end of the spectrum, people have severe neurological issues and may be self-abusive and in some cases violent and certainly are having a very difficult time in their lives. Regardless of where you are on the spectrum, the need for services generally will be required throughout the lifetime.

>> Richard Ruelas:
But the common elements might be disassociation in conversation or disassociation with the senses?

>> Lee Grossman:
With autism there's fairly characteristic behaviors that most individuals have. For a parent that is looking at their child and some of the things they would first want to notice or may notice is that the child is not making adequate eye contact or no eye contact. They seem to avoid them. There's some stereo-typical behaviors where they become obsessed with objects or a book as if they can't be drawn away from it. Generally, there's a difficulty in transitioning from one activity to another and also a disassociation with their peers and relationships they may be having with other people.

>> Richard Ruelas:
Seems like there's an increase in the number of diagnoses of autism. Is that getting better at spotting it or something environmental leading to cases being found?

>> Lee Grossman:
I guess the answer to all of that is yes. We don't know what is causing the tremendous increase in autism. When we look at the fact that public awareness is involved in this which means it's being diagnosed much better--that the physicians are calling it out in a much better way--when we look at just the growing number of people and we put all this together, it still doesn't add up to what this dramatic increase is in the incidents of autism. The C.D.C. announced in February it now affects one in 150 births.

>> Richard Ruelas:
This is in previous?

>> Lee Grossman:
Previous it was one in 166 was what their guesstimate was. Of that, because of a high incident rate in boys, now, were really looking at about one out of one hundred boys will have it.

>> Richard Ruelas:
And in previous generations it was?

>> Lee Grossman:
I have a son with autism. When he was first diagnosed in 1992, we were saying one in 750. Then they said one in 500. Now I don't know if it's because we didn't know as much about it. Certainly along that period the description of autism has expanded greatly. The idea of spectrum disorder has increased the range of people being diagnosed. Adding all those issues together, still doesn't come close to equaling this incidence that we see. We're suggesting that there has to be an environmental component. It makes common sense that environmental factors are playing a major role in these incidents.

>> Richard Ruelas:
The conference this week, usually these things are medical heavy or for doctors, these seemed to be geared heavily towards parents, parents with autistic children.

>> Lee Grossman:
Attendees are 50\% professionals and 50\% families. What is happening in autism and what has always happened in autism, the primary intervention and services for the children and adults with autism has been through education, psychosocial and behavioral interventions. Now we're seeing a great interest from the medical community to look at it as a chronic medical condition and we're seeing more professional on that side come into it as well as the educators, behaviorist, speech pathologists and occupational therapists.

>>Richard Ruelas:
It doesn't seem like hands-on advice in the seminars of dealing with a child with--an autistic child?

>> Lee Grossman:
Our conference covers everything about autism. We have approximately 120 different speakers and 80 presentations, educational issues and support mechanisms and entire life span. Our conference has more topics regarding adult issues which is where the majority of the cost and treatment overall for autism is and where the majority of time people with autism spend their lives than any other conference.

>> Richard Ruelas:
If there is some interest on people attending the conference, are there day passes or how does it work?

>> Lee Grossman:
Our conference runs through Saturday. There are day passes that can be purchased. Any day that somebody comes, they're going to find a wealth of experience. It's a very uplifting, fun conference. We make it enjoyable for all the attendees. The presenters that we have at the conference are the best of the best that are available of autism. Anyone who attends will learn a lot and be inspired.

>> Jose Cardenas:
The Autism Society of America's national conference continues through Saturday in Scottsdale. More information is available online at the address on your screen.

>> Jose Cardenas:
Thanks for joining us on this Wednesday evening. I'm Jose Cardenas. We'll see you tomorrow night.

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