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
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they're very withdrawn.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."