Missouri Blue Ribbon Panel for Autism to Hold Second Of Statewide Hearings July 20 at Southeast

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., July 17, 2007 — The second hearing of the Missouri Blue Ribbon Panel on Autism will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 20 on the campus of Southeast Missouri State University.

The hearing will be located in Glenn Auditorium of Robert A Dempster Hall. The Blue Ribbon Panel is scheduling hearings around the state to hear public testimony on autism–related issues and to hear testimony from the various autism-related fields of expertise.  The locations will include Cape Girardeau, Springfield, St. Louis and Kansas City.

All proceedings are open to the public, with an open forum scheduled from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to give members of the public an opportunity to address the panel directly. The panel’s charge is to determine the “State of Autism” in Missouri including services, teaching, training and research, and to make recommendations for improving the quality of life across the lifespan of individuals with autism and their families.

With the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) now reporting an autism spectrum diagnosis in one out of 150 children, Sen. Michael Gibbons officially announced the Blue Ribbon Panel on Autism on April 26.  Sen. Scott Rupp of Wentzville will serve as the panel chairperson, along with Ron Ashworth of St. Louis as vice chairman.

Interested parties wishing to schedule a time to participate in public testimony may call Sen. Rupp’s office in Jefferson City at (573) 751-1282 or submit written testimony by e-mail to mdestefano@senate.mo.gov  or by mail to Sen. Scott Rupp, Attn: Blue Ribbon Panel on Autism, State Capitol Building, Room 426, Jefferson City, MO  65101, FAX:  (573) 526-4766.

For more information, contact Melissa DeStefano at (573) 751-1282 or contact representatives of the Missouri Autism Coalition, Gay Tompkins at (314) 800-3025; or Ginger King-Luetkemeyer at (573) 395-4626.

Panel Nominees by Region include:Senator Scott Rupp, (R-Wentzville) ChairmanSenator Jolie Justus, (D-Kansas City)

St. Louis Region:Ron Ashworth, Vice ChairmanJulie RoscoeRandy SandersBill Bolster

Kansas City Region: Tom DavisRobin Russell

Mid-Missouri: Dr. Steve KanneDr. Laurie Fowler

Southeast Missouri: Mamie Benson  (Kennett, MO)

Southwest Missouri: Shawn WilliamsNikki Straw

Northeast Missouri: Dr. Cindy Dowis

Missouri-at-Large: Heidi Atkins Lieberman, DESEJulia Kauffman, MRDD