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Fla. Bill Aims To Fast Track Autism Diagnoses

Getting an autism diagnosis for children could be quicker and easier, if a bill filed in the Florida Senate becomes law. 

The bill’s sponsor says the autism-diagnosis bill is especially relevant right now, as mass shootings are putting behavioral disorders in the spotlight. Sen. Jeremy Ring, (D- Margate), has tried to pass the measure several times before, but opponents have cited its fiscal impact in the past.

The bill would require pediatricians to screen for autism if a parent suspects a child has it. And parents would be able to go directly to mental health specialists without pre-clearance from insurance companies. 

“Parents are with their children for most of the day, and a pediatrician may be with the child for just a few moments every few months, so it’s difficult for them to make that diagnosis because they don’t have that kind of exposure," he said.

Ring said, the bill would keep parents from having to just accept it when doctors don’t notice the signs of behavior disorders.

Also, starting in 2014, the bill would require insurance plans to cover at least three visits a year for autism screening and diagnosis.

And despite the national attention autism is getting after the Connecticut school shooting, autism advocates say, the disorder is not known to cause that kind of violence.

Update: A previous version of this story said that Sen. Ring said mass shootings were putting "mental health issues" in the spotlight. Because autism is not a mental health issue but is a behavioral disorder, we have changed the wording in the story.