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The Combating Autism Act of 2006 (CAA) is a single-disorder law for the population with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), one of six neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs). All NDDs have common origins, overlapping symptoms, and lifelong adverse individual and societal impacts. Yet, no analogous policy exists for the other NDDs. The inequity between related disorders is a curiosity, and moreover, it results in health and economic inequities with devastating consequences. This analysis examines the conditions that led to the CAA, which has been reauthorized three times since 2006 and is now known as the Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education, and Support (CARES) Act. Understanding how we arrived at this landmark legislation serves to inform future reauthorizations and elicit consideration of CARES equity for people experiencing all NDDs.

Faculty Advisor(s)

Mary Lou Ciolfi, J.D.

Publication Date


Policy for a Singular Neurodevelopmental Disorder: A Multiple Streams Analysis of the Combating Autism Act of 2006 Using Kingdon’s Framework



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