Autism task force languishes

Published 10:13 am Monday, August 4, 2014

ST. PAUL — A Minnesota legislator is vowing to resurrect a state task force on autism.

Sen. David Senjem says “autism is emerging as a near epidemic” and needs the attention of legislators.

The task force is in limbo after mediation failed to resolve infighting among members, which resulted in the resignation of three of its leaders. The Minnesota House voted to disband the 18-member panel, but the Senate refused. The task force has no meetings scheduled, no budget and no staff.

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The state Department of Health says Minnesota has one of the highest rates of autism in the country with an estimated 11,000 to 20,000 children over age 2 diagnosed with the disabling disorder.

Senjem, a task force member, tells the Star Tribune that too much work has gone in to creating the task force to let it languish.