AutisticHistory | October 2000
Square image divided. Left side features blue background and an image of a man with some hair wearing a lab coat, green scrubs and a stethoscope.
Quote: “Celebrity is a strange commodity.
You can’t live in it or put it in the bank. And it doesn’t last all that long. The only good thing you can do with it is to use it to give a voice to people who don’t have one.”
— Anthony Edwards
Celebrity Influencer: Actor on the show “ER”
Other half of the image is white and gray with red text:
“Autistics have a voice.
When you testified for the Children’s Health Act of 2000, you silenced us.
Autistics had no representation in legislation, but you did and testified in lieu of us — and got it so, so horribly wrong.
It’s 2022 and celebrities are still speaking over us, creating stigma about us and preventing access to real Autistic healthcare, support and understanding.”
— Eve Reiland,
ActuallyAutistic vintage ’72 & Parenting Autistics Since ’93
If the autism community had any edge other than the rightness of their cause it was access to celebrities. Anthony Edwards, CAN board member and star of the hit television show “ER,” made three trips to Washington. He provided Senate testimony in front of Senator Frist’s committee. Rene Russo made national headlines with her visit to Washington and testimony in front of the commerce committee in the House.
CAN Brought Doug Flutie to Washington for meetings with Trent Lott, Senator Frist and Representatives Smith and Greenwood. And finally, Brad Whitford, a D.C. Favorite and newly minted celebrity from “The West Wing” spoke at a press conference where Senator Frist announced that he would try to get the bill passed by unanimous consent.
“Celebrity is a strange commodity,” says Anthony Edwards on his involvement with the passage of this legislation.
“You can’t live in it or put it in the bank. And it doesn’t last all that long. The only good thing you can do with it is use it to give a voice to people who don’t have one.”
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