David Senjem, a Rochester Republican and task force member. We worked way too hard to get that task force created. In an interview last week, Senjem vowed to get the task force back on track with new members, if necessary. Autism is emerging as a near epidemic, he said. The share of Americans diagnosed with autism has grown more than 30-fold since the 1990s, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Minnesota has one of the highest reported rates in the country, with an estimated 11,000 to 20,000 children over age 2 having an autism diagnosis in 2010, according to the state Department of Health. The disorder can manifest itself in a broad spectrum of symptoms, from mild to severely disabling, and the state spends millions of dollars annually on therapy and schooling just for school-aged children. The task force, created by the Legislature in 2011, completed a statewide strategic plan in December 2012, which won high praise at the Capitol. But internal personality conflicts quickly became paralyzing.
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