Funding Autism Research
A hearing was held on progress made since the subcommittee’s April 17, 2007, hearing on autism in the United States.
Dr. Insel talked about autism research initiatives the the National Institutes of Health and various statistical analyses associated with research.
He was followed by a panel of parents who testified about their experiences with autistic children and treatments for the disease
Prepared Statement of the National Autism Association
On behalf of the Board of Directors and membership of the National
Autism Association and SafeMinds, we thank Senator Harkin and all the
committee members for holding these hearings to ensure funding the
Combating Autism Act. Once fully funded, this landmark legislation will
help answer questions of vital concern to the autism community: what
causes this disorder, now at epidemic levels, affecting 1 in 150
children, and how can it be most effectively treated and prevented.
Several dozen recently published peer-reviewed scientific papers
point to environmental triggers, including vaccines and their
components, as a cause of autism. Most recently, a study by the Autism
Genome Consortium Project of 1,500 families with multiple affected
children failed to identify an autism gene and failed to replicate most
highly touted finding from recent genome scans. The negative AGPC
findings provide strong evidence that heritability claims are
exaggerated, if not false. Provided with massive resource support and
under the most favorable study conditions, the AGPC found no evidence
of heritability. These powerful findings suggest that the search for
the actual cause of autism must focus on the environment to which the
mother, fetus, and infant are exposed.
In the report language accompanying the CAA, Congressman Joe Barton
stated, “. . . the legislation rightfully calls for renewed efforts to
study all possible causes of autism–including vaccines and other
Representative Barton also said, “. . . these
provisions will insure continuation and intensification of crucial
research at NIEHS so that it is able to conduct all necessary research
to determine the environmental factors in autism.”
Senator Chris Dodd stated in the Senate colloquy, “In our search
for the cause of this growing developmental disability, we should close
no doors on promising avenues of research. Through the Combating Autism
Act, all biomedical research opportunities on ASD can be pursued, and
they include environmental research examining potential links between
vaccines, vaccine components and ASD.”
With acknowledgement from our Federal Government that environmental
factors such as mercury from vaccines may play a role in the
development of autism, and a clear directive that this will be
investigated by the National Institutes of Environmental Health
Sciences (NIEHS), the National Institute of Mental Health, and other
Institutes, we must now ensure that this area receives the necessary
funding to establish a solid program of goal-driven research.
Rather than merely counting the children diagnosed with autism, we
now have government confirmation that autism is a national health
emergency that must be addressed with all deliberate speed. The
government can move quickly and decisively when it wants to. Recent
examples include the coordinated responses to E. Coli outbreaks in
spinach, SARS, and threats from bird flu and mad cow.
Autistic children deserve and must have this same level of
commitment and response. Imagine how quickly the government, indeed
every institution of society, would react if 1 in 150 children were
suddenly kidnapped. This is the stark reality faced every day by
families with autistic children. Autism imposes massive costs to
families and society, totaling $3.2 million in lifetime care per
individual, according to a recent study from Harvard University.
Epidemiology studies performed by the CDC must now test a clear
environmental hypothesis rather than simply count affected children.
Also, since it is scientifically impossible to have a genetic epidemic,
the funds spent on finding an “autism gene” should more appropriately
be devoted to finding the environmental triggers. NIEHS must play a
leading role as such research is within its area of specialization,
while NIMH and other Institutes are best equipped to fund research
within their areas of expertise.
Placing the major focus of government research on the environmental
factors triggering autism and on biomedical treatments reaffirms the
National Autism Association’s long-standing position that there is hope
for all families affected by autism. An environmentally triggered
disorder is both treatable and preventable; therefore, there is hope–
hope both for families that already suffer with autism and hope that
this disorder can quickly be relegated from an epidemic to the annals
To that end, we urge this committee to fully appropriate the
Combating Autism Act. In the area of environmental research including
vaccines and their components, we ask the committee to include a line
item amount of $45 million over 5 years, as was authorized in the
Senate-passed version of the bill. These funds should be specifically
designated to the NIEHS so that this under-funded area of research can
finally receive the attention it deserves. Hundreds of thousands of
children suffering with autism spectrum disorders, that we now know is
caused by one or more environmental factors, are depending on the
wisdom of this committee to fully fund this critical research
Autistic people have fought the inclusion of ABA in therapy for us since before Autism Speaks, and other non-Autistic-led autism organizations, started lobbying legislation to get it covered by insurances and Medicaid.
ABA is a myth originally sold to parents that it would keep their Autistic child out of an institution. Today, parents are told that with early intervention therapy their child will either be less Autistic or no longer Autistic by elementary school, and can be mainstreamed in typical education classes. ABA is very expensive to pay out of pocket. Essentially, Autism Speaks has justified the big price tag up front will offset the overall burden on resources for an Autistic’s lifetime. The recommendation for this therapy is 40 hours a week for children and toddlers.
The original study that showed the success rate of ABA to be at 50% has never been replicated. In fact, the study of ABA by United States Department of Defense was denounced as a failure. Not just once, but multiple times. Simply stated: ABA doesn’t work. In study after repeated study: ABA (conversion therapy) doesn’t work.
What more recent studies do show: Autistics who experienced ABA therapy are at high risk to develop PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions. Historically, the autism organizations promoting ABA as a cure or solution have silenced Autistic advocates’ opposition. ABA is also known as gay conversion therapy.
The ‘cure’ for Autistics not born yet is the prevention of birth.
The ‘cure’ is a choice to terminate a pregnancy based on ‘autism risk.’ The cure is abortion. This is the same ‘cure’ society has for Down Syndrome.
This is eugenics 2021. Instead of killing Autistics and disabled children in gas chambers or ‘mercy killings’ like in Aktion T4, it’ll happen at the doctor’s office, quietly, one Autistic baby at a time. Different approaches yes, but still eugenics and the extinction of an entire minority group of people.
Fact: You can’t cure Autistics from being Autistic.
Fact: You can’t recover an Autistic from being Autistic.
Fact: You can groom an Autistic to mask and hide their traits. Somewhat. … however, this comes at the expense of the Autistic child, promotes Autistic Burnout (this should not be confused with typical burnout, Autistic Burnout can kill Autistics), and places the Autistic child at high risk for PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions.
[Note: Autism is NOT a disease, but a neurodevelopmental difference and disability.]
Fact: Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism.