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NV Lawmakers Consider Funding Hike for Autism Services

PHOTO: The Nevada Legislature is considering a proposed funding increase for autism treatment that could benefit several thousand children instead of only a few hundred. Photo courtesy of the Nevada Legislature.
PHOTO: The Nevada Legislature is considering a proposed funding increase for autism treatment that could benefit several thousand children instead of only a few hundred. Photo courtesy of the Nevada Legislature.
February 18, 2015

CARSON CITY, Nev. - Nevada state lawmakers are in session today, reviewing details of Gov. Brian Sandoval's proposed budget, which includes funding increases for autism treatment and other programs.

Jon Sasser, statewide advocacy coordinator for the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, said a big portion of the new funding for autism-related services would come from the federal government.

"The governor proposes that, for the very first time, Nevada offer services to these children through the Medicaid program," he said. "As a result, Nevada will have about $28 million that we would not otherwise have, to help these children."

During his State of the State speech earlier this year, Sandoval said his budget would include a major funding increase for autism treatment - from about $2 million to $73 million.

Jan Crandy, who chairs the Nevada Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorders, said the additional funding could help provide services for about 2,500 kids, compared with about 500 being treated now. She said research shows that when early diagnosis and specialized services are available to children as young as age 2, it raises the odds for success - in school and later in life - for nearly half of them.

"As many as 47 percent of those kids that are treated go on to be independent, attend regular education classes," she said.

An estimated one in 68 children in the United States lives with autism and related disorders, she said, whereas two decades ago, these conditions were thought to affect one in 10,000.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NV