Having an autistic child is not the end of the world--far from it. It is my hope that through this blog, at least a handful of people will get to understand that. My child is amazing, she brings us tremendous joy. We have good days & bad days, but we CHOOSE to focus on the good. Our belief is that by loving our daughter, giving her the most comfortable environment we can, and by most of all accepting her differences, she will continue to blossom--in her OWN way.

4/22/08

Autism and Politics

Much has been written about the current presidential candidates and their positions on autism. Clinton has made several speeches in the last couple of years, Obama's website has several statements about autism, and McCain made a now infamous remark about a connection between vaccines and autism. And now, autism has even entered into a victory speech by Hillary Clinton this evening.

"We will tackle everything from autism to Alzheimer’s, cancer to diabetes, and make a real difference."
On her website, you can find Clinton's plan for autism. And here is what she said on World Autism Day. The most significant, from my perspective, was this:
I’ll also provide funding to school districts and universities to train teachers and other health and social services professionals in how to work most effectively with autistic children, since the number of children with autism in our public schools has skyrocketed in recent years. I’ll make sure every young person has a transition plan before they leave high school. I will also ensure that both children and adults with autism have access to the services they need - including housing, transportation, employment - to live rich and full lives. In all, I will commit $500 million annually to provide services to improve the quality of life for all people living with autism.
To be fair, here is Barack Obama's statement on autism:
Support Americans with Autism. More than one million Americans have autism, a complex neurobiological condition that has a range of impacts on thinking, feeling, language, and the ability to relate to others. As diagnostic criteria broaden and awareness increases, more cases of autism have been recognized across the country. Barack Obama believes that we can do more to help autistic Americans and their families understand and live with autism. He has been a strong supporter of more than $1 billion in federal funding for autism research on the root causes and treatments, and he believes that we should increase funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to truly ensure that no child is left behind.

More than anything, autism remains a profound mystery with a broad spectrum of effects on autistic individuals, their families, loved ones, the community, and education and health care systems. Obama believes that the government and our communities should work together to provide a helping hand to autistic individuals and their families.
Here is John McCain's statement on autism:
John McCain is very concerned about the rising incidence of autism among America's children and has continually supported research into its causes and treatment. He has heard countless stories about families' hardships obtaining a diagnosis for their children's autism and accessing quality medical treatment. He believes that federal research efforts should support broad approaches to understanding the factors that may play a role in the incidence of autism, including factors in our environment, for both prevention and treatment purposes.

John McCain was proud to lend his support to the Combating Autism Act of 2006, which he cosponsored, and worked to ensure its enactment. This law is helping to increase public awareness and screening of autism spectrum disorder, promote the use of evidence-based interventions, and create autism Centers of Excellence for Autism Spectrum Disorder Research and Epidemiology. John McCain understands that despite the federal and scientific research efforts to date, the exact causes of autism are not yet known and greater research is needed to understand this disorder. That is why in November 2007, he joined with Senator Lieberman in requesting the leadership of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which has jurisdiction over federal research into autism, to hold a hearing on federal research efforts regarding factors affecting incidence and treatment in order to help determine where research efforts can best be directed. As President, John McCain will work to advance federal research into autism, promote early screening, and identify better treatment options, while providing support for children with autism so that they may reach their full potential.
I am wanting to stay away from a political debate on this blog, but I will say I do have objections to what's been said with regard to autism by some of the candidates. I am also weary that any of them will actually do much to help autistic adults or teens. There are far too many special-interest groups in Washington, that ultimately will persuade them. I have no doubt that Autism Speaks and others will sink their teeth into whomever is elected President. The funding will go toward those lobbyists who are most convincing (which translates into those finding cause, genetic testing, etc.).

Perhaps I am cynical, but my overriding theory on politicians is that, regardless of their best intentions, get into D.C. and all those promises they made to earn your vote slip away. To be honest, I won't choose who I am voting for based (at least not solely) on their stance on autism. Part of it is because I feel so much of what they say and promise is mostly rhetoric, the other part is I feel there are other issues at hand that take precedence over autism--when it comes to picking the next President.

I wish nothing more than to be pleasantly surprised. I do sincerely hope that whomever moves into the Whitehouse in several months is truly aware of autism, and the greater needs that exist today (adult programs, on top of that list).

2 comments:

kristi said...

I have the same hopes! I just found your blog and I subscribed to it!

S.L. said...

Thanks Kristi! I look forward to reading your blog as well.