Hearing Gives Burton a Last Shot at Autism Issue | Nov. 27, 2012

[Note: Shared for #AutisticHistory archive purposes. This is NOT An Autistic Ally.]

By Melissa Attias

Roll Call

Hearing Gives Burton a Last Shot at Autism Issue

Indiana Republican plans to focus on environmental factors that could have effects on children’s neurological systems

For more than a decade, Indiana Republican Dan Burton has been a leading House voice on autism and a proponent of the theory that mercury in vaccines contributes to the disorder. He held at least 20 hearings examining the potential link between the two during three terms as chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee and one as head of the panel’s subcommittee on Human Rights and Wellness, according to his office. 

With about a month left before he retires, Burton will have one last chance to pursue the issue from his seat on the Oversight panel Thursday, when the panel holds a hearing on autism spectrum disorders. Burton said he plans to focus his questions on environmental factors — such as mercury or other contaminants in water — that have the potential to affect children’s neurological systems, as well as the vaccine issue. 

“I’m very confident that the mercury in vaccinations is a contributing factor,” said Burton, whose teenage grandson has autism. “It may not be the only one — that’s why I talked about environmental issues as well — but certainly anything that you inject into your body that has mercury in it is a contaminant.”

But while Burton requested the hearing and expects to preside over part of it, the testimony lined up by the Oversight panel is expected to take a wider look at the autism spectrum rather than zeroing in on the controversy over vaccines. In an invitation to the National Institutes of Health, Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said the hearing would look at “the federal response to the recent rise in ASD diagnoses,” the distribution of government resources, and research and treatment options. 

“Rising ASD diagnosis rates present a challenge to federal agencies charged with coordinating response efforts,” Oversight spokesman Ali Ahmad said. “The committee will hear testimony from a broad array of voices, including parent advocates, self advocates, educational specialists and scientists.”

Burton’s Role

Dozens of studies — including a 2004 report by the Institute of Medicine — have concluded that there is no relationship between vaccines and autism, but some concerns still linger. And for Burton, the issue is personal. 

Burton said his grandson received nine shots in one day, seven of which had mercury in them, shortly before he was diagnosed with autism. He believes a combination of things may have caused his grandson to become autistic, including the mercury in the vaccines and the fact that he got nine shots all together. 

“If you get one shot and it has mercury in it, you get maybe a little bit of mercury in there that may not affect you neurologically. But it stays there, at least a part of it does,” Burton said, referring to brain tissue. “So when you have a number of shots, there’s an accumulation of it, and that’s when I think it can be real damaging.”

While government agencies have conducted studies on mercury in vaccinations, Burton thinks the evidence “has been somewhat biased and inconclusive.” He wants the Food and Drug Administration and the Health and Human Services Department to continue to do testing and research on the issue, and for Congress to be watchful as well.

Representatives of other autism-focused groups, including Autism Speaks and the Autism Society, are also confirmed witnesses. Scott Badesch, president and chief operating officer of the Autism Society, plans to discuss the needs of those affected by autism and advocate for increasing the focus on outcome-based services within government programs.

Speaking on behalf of federal agencies will be Alan Guttmacher, director of the NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and Coleen Boyle, director of the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. Boyle is expected to discuss the rising prevalence of autism and the research her agency is doing on the issue.


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 workIn 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.

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