Ms. Boyle. Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. I am Dr. Coleen Boyle, Chief of the Developmental Disabilities Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. I am presenting the agency's testimony, and I am accompanied by Dr. Ben Schwartz, who is the Acting Director of the Epidemiology and Surveillance Division at the National Immunization Program at CDC. I am pleased to discuss our work at CDC to prevent developmental disabilities including autism. I want to begin by assuring the parents that we have heard from today that CDC is concerned about autism, and that we are working hard to find the causes of autism and other developmental disabilities so that all children will have the opportunity to have a healthy and productive future. Autism is a serious developmental disability which can have profound impact on children and their families. It is characterized by qualitative impairments in social interactions and communication and a pattern of restrictive, repetitive, and stereotypic behaviors, interests, and activities. Autism may require long-term special education and care at a cost of more than $30,000 per year. Costs for residential care can be $80,000 to $100,000 per year. CDC's role in preventing developmental disabilities including autism is to track the disease rates in the population and to identify causes of this condition. CDC can then establish prevention programs and then evaluate how well these programs work. We do not know if autism rates are going up. Early studies found autism rates in the range of 4 to 6 per 10,000 children, using a narrow set of criteria. More recent studies have reported rates averaging 12 per 10,000 children, but these studies have used different criteria than the earlier studies. CDC is not certain how much of the reported increase is due to changes in the definition of autism or an improved recognition of this condition over time. We also do not know if other factors have contributed to the larger numbers of children seeking treatment. CDC is currently developing ways to better measure autism. In 1998, we added autism to our Metropolitan Atlanta Development Disabilities Surveillance Program. This program, which also monitors other serious developmental disabilities such as mental retardation and cerebral palsy among school-age children in Atlanta, is the only community-wide study in the United States. CDC has just funded Marshall University in West Virginia to start tracking autism in six countries in that State. At this point, I want to briefly describe our activities in Brick Township, NJ and in investigating the alleged association between autism and the MMR vaccination. In early 1998, the CDC and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry [ATSDR], were contacted by the New Jersey Health Department, Senator Robert Torricelli, and U.S. Representative Christopher Smith, requesting the CDC investigate autism rates in Brick Township. They were concerned that the number of children with autism was too high. In response, CDC conducted a study of children with autism living in Brick Township during 1998. ATSDR investigated sources of environmental pollution and exposure routes in Brick Township. All the data have been collected, and the results are currently undergoing scientific review. Once this review is completed, we will provide the report first to the parents of the affected children, the community, and then the local and State health departments. We would be pleased to brief interested Members or their staffs on the results of this work at the time we make them available to the community. As the committee is aware, a theory links the MMR vaccine and autism, which has generated public interest and some controversy. CDC believes that the current scientific evidence does not support the hypothesis that MMR or any combination of vaccines cause the development of autism. Initial case series reports have not been substantiated by more focused reviews or by more in-depth followup research. It should be pointed out that factors known to be associated with autism include genetic factors and events that occur before birth. CDC recognizes how important it is to identify the causes of autism as well as to ensure the safety of vaccines. CDC is currently undertaking three studies related to autism or about hypotheses related to vaccines and autism. First, CDC is using its Autism Surveillance Program in Atlanta to examine the possibility of a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. Second, we are working with the National Institutes of Health to conduct a study that will evaluate whether vaccination is linked with developmental regression which occurs in some children with autism. Third, CDC is using the Vaccine Safety Datalink, in collaboration with several HMOs, to study inflammatory bowel disease and the MMR vaccination. Through these studies, CDC is working to assure the safety of the vaccination program and to identify preventable causes of autism. Mr. Chairman, in the past 4 years, public health has made significant advances in preventing developmental disabilities. Prevention of congenital syphilis and congenital rubella syndrome have spared lives and prevented disability for thousands of children. Newborn screening programs have prevented lifelong mental retardation in children with hyperthyroidism and sickle cell disease. However, given these strides, we still do not know what causes many developmental disabilities, including autism. While additional scientific research is being completed, it is important to also consider the broader context of public health, including the vaccination program, which is one of the most successful public health achievements of the 20th century. Given the weight of the scientific data and the known seriousness and ongoing risk of vaccine-preventable diseases, in CDC's judgment, the best public policy is to continue vaccination unchanged while aggressively working to try to identify causes of developmental disabilities. CDC agrees with the committee and the parents who have testified today that autism has a significant and profound adverse impact on the lives of children and families and communities where it occurs. We must track this disorder, we must identify the preventable causes, and we must institute effective prevention programs. It is my hope that our efforts, combined with those of the NIH and the academic community, will lead to a way to prevent developmental disabilities of autism, enabling those children to live full and productive lives. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. Mr. Burton. Thank you, Dr. Boyle.
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.