Autism

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Health reporter for The State Journal-Register, Dean Olsen, has been looking at the hurdles in place when it comes to healthcare access, many as a result of the state's budget problems. 

As the third month Illinois has gone without a state budget nears its end, some programs have recently gotten funding. Many other are still waiting and starting to feel the pinch. 

Illinois State Capitol Dome in clouds
Brian Mackey / WUIS - Illinois Issues

Illinois legislators will return to Springfield Tuesday, leaving them one last day to get a budget deal in order. This year's spending plan expires at midnight on June 30. Not only is there no long-term agreement, there's no sign of a provisional one either.

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A top official with Gov. Bruce Rauner's office confirms, Illinois will restore $26 million in funding for a tobacco quitline, programs for autistic children and other social service grants. Projections show the state is taking in more money than expected.  While some cuts will remain, the windfall frees up money to reverse the cuts Rauner made with little warning on Good Friday, in early April.
 

The news has Joanne Guthrie-Gard beaming -- one of those "couldn't wipe it off her face" smiles. "I'm ecstatic. I'm so excited," she says.

There's a hold-up over efforts to programs dealing with autism, drug prevention, and more from ending. It seems like advocates should be celebrating.

After Gov. Bruce Rauner says he was forced to earlier this month suddenly pull $26 million worth of state grants, the Illinois Senate used the legislative version of searching under the couch cushions for change.

The Autism Program

Many Illinois parents who have children with autism bring them to one of nineteen centers around the state, but that may change.

Illinois' autism centers will have to close if the state doesn't allocate funds, leaders of the programs say.

The Autism Program was supposed to receive $4.3 million dollars this year, but that money was cut off when Gov. Bruce Rauner suspended a total of $26 million of state grants.

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

  Officials with The Autism Program said they felt shock April 3, when they were told their state funding was canceled — effective immediately. The Good Friday notice also came to the chagrin of some legislators who said they thought autism programs would be spared from budget cuts.

“I regularly come into contact with 18 senators and representatives across the state,” said TAP lobbyist Jim Runyon. “They had been assured that the autism program was going to be held harmless through the remainder of (fiscal) ’15.”

 Some Lawmakers say that they believed certain programs had been protected under a budget deal recently struck with the governor to fund state services through the rest of the fiscal year. But Gov. Bruce Rauner froze several human services grants earlier this month — including support for people with autism.

Now a Senate budget committee is calling on members of the administration to explain the cuts. Democratic Sen. Dan Kotowski, who chairs the committee, says the money should be restored.

WUIS

People with autism can sometimes find it difficult to interact with others. That can make getting a job even harder. But there is a place where on the job training can open the horizons of both workers and customers.

If you find yourself off South Sixth Street you may have missed The Noll Café located at the Noll Medical Pavilion in Springfield. The café ran by The Hope Institute offers healthy alternatives for morning and lunchtime patrons.

Noah Davis of Springfield loves to draw animals, but they must have four legs. And all four legs must simultaneously be touching the ground. He has Asperger Syndrome, a milder disorder on the autism spectrum.
Bethany Jaeger / WUIS/Illinois Issues

An autism diagnosis sends parents on an anxious search for ways to save their children from closed, mysterious worlds. 

They jump at the chance to learn more about scientific breakthroughs, hoping that some day, science will find a way to “fix” their children.

Harvard University scientists propelled those hopes in July with an article published in the journal Science. The study suggests that activating some defective genes in the brain could emulate flipping a light switch and, say, enable communication skills.