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Government

Senator Files Autism Bill for the Sixth Time

A bill filed in Tallahassee would allow parents to take their kids directly to a specialist - without a referral - if they’re showing signs of autism. The bill’s sponsor has already tried five times to get it passed.

The National Institutes of Health defines autism as a range of complex neurodevelopment disorders. They may include repetitive behaviors and trouble communicating. Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Margate, wants to remove the barriers to a fast diagnosis.

“The numbers of diagnosis increased exponentially over the years, and there’s something going on here,” Ring said.Belkin Vigil’s son started showing symptoms at 18-months-old, but his pediatrician didn’t see a problem.

"He would not diagnose him," Vigil said. "He said to us - oh, this will go away. He’ll get better soon.”

The doctor didn’t send the family to a specialist, until Vigil demanded a referral a few months later. She founded Autism Connection Miami to help families like hers.

“In autism, it’s all about time," Vigil said. "The sooner the child gets diagnosed, the sooner the therapies begin to be able to get the treatment that they need to be able to get better.”

Sen. Ring hopes the sixth time is the charm, but he promises to keep filing the bill until it passes.