Several weeks ago I did an interview with David Kirby, which was subsequently made available to F.A.I.R. Autism Media. During this interview, I made a few comments which upset some members of NAAR as well as some parents of older autistic children.
It was never my intent to upset parents. I am terribly sorry if statements reflecting my frustration with the pace and scope of autism research offended the pioneering and hard-working NAAR parents and volunteers. Their contribution to this cause has been both tremendous and courageous. When I stated that autism has reached catastrophic numbers and it is time to let go of resistance to environmental research, I was speaking of scientists at the CDC, NIH and elsewhere, who have discounted and obfuscated the autism/ environment connection for far too long.
Despite receiving high quality early intervention, my son lost every word, every skill he ever had within a year of his diagnosis. Christian lived in constant pain for the following two years with a destroyed immune system and endured bouts of severe colitis, pnuemonia, staph, strep and cellulitis, while hardly eating, barely sleeping, only screaming. Tens of thousands of parents are living this nightmare along with me. We are understandably angry at the glacial pace and narrow focus of autism research.
I, like most other parents of autistic children, want to see far greater resources directed towards helping the children and families living with autism TODAY. We immediately need research and assistance on providing therapeutic services and bio-medical interventions. While research into the role of genetics in the development of autism should be continued, this should not occur at the expense of crucial research into environmental factors that are so obviously triggering this epidemic. The first priority must be investigating therapies and treatment for improving the outcomes for individuals living with autism today.
Finally, I was saddened by the statement issued by Autism Speaks, featured so prominently on its website, which so vehemently disassociated itself from me. Repeatedly, throughout the interview, I said my opinions were my own and did not represent those of Autism Speaks. I do not understand why such a personal denouncement of me was necessary. To be clear, I have nothing but admiration and appreciation for what my parents, Bob and Suzanne Wright, have achieved and are trying to do to in promoting the cause of environmental research. It is my greatest hope that Autism Speaks as well as the scientific and medical community will fulfill their promises and commit themselves to the environmental, biomedical and therapeutic research so urgently needed. It is long overdue.