Frommer to push for autism advocate

Gretchen Hoffman

State Assemblyman Dario Frommer (D-Glendale) is the chairman of

the Assembly Committee on Health, but his real inspiration for

legislation he intends to introduce came closer to home.

Two of his cousins have children who are autistic.

"They're tenacious advocates for their kids," he said. "In that

process, I've learned some of the barriers parents face. It's a real

struggle and it's heartbreaking to watch."

Frommer intends to introduce a bill that would establish an

ombudsman to help parents of autistic children get state services to

deal with the disorder. A variety of services, including speech

therapy, are available, but parents often receive conflicting

information from the various state departments that administer the


"It was just amazing to me that there were two autistic children

in one family," he added. "Then I began to read that cases of autism

are increasing rapidly. This whole explosion has put a huge strain on

the system."

There was a 273% increase in autism in California between 1987 and

1997, a statistic Frommer calls alarming.

He is pushing for programs that center on early intervention to

help autistic children realize their full potential.

He also wants the state to invest in more research and protect the

funding of the regional centers that address the day-to-day needs of

people with autism -- a key concern with the state facing a projected

$35-billion budget deficit

"You see a beautiful kid who is struggling to communicate and is

very isolated," he said. "They don't develop the ability to talk or

they're very withdrawn. You wonder what kind of life this kid is

going to have."

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