Autism spectrum disorder pilot project passes Legislature

BISMARCK–The North Dakota Legislature has approved an autism spectrum disorder pilot program.

Senate Bill 2268 allows the Department of Human Services to use up to $200,000 for a regional autism spectrum disorder centers of early intervention and achievement pilot program.

The program must provide a matching grant to a qualified applicant that is a nonprofit intermediate care facility for individuals with intellectual disabilities.

Applicants must submit a plan for the funding, development and delivery of skilled services to individuals with autism spectrum disorder who live within the applicant’s service region.

The Anne Carlsen Center in Jamestown has expressed interest in offering the pilot program.

Sen. Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson, said the bill is a small step forward on the issue. Sen. Tim Mathern, D-Fargo, said he would support the bill but does not think it goes far enough.

“I think we could have done much better than we have done with this bill,” he said.

The original version of the bill required health insurance coverage for autism spectrum disorder. The bill was revamped due to concern that the Legislature would not pass it.

The revised bill for the pilot program will now go to the governor for his signature.