Autism and Childhood Vaccines Hearing Testimony: Kathy Pratt | April 6, 2000

Kathy Pratt has medium-length blone hair and is wearing a gray suit and white shirt.

See testimony here >>

Read full testimony here >>

Ms. Pratt. Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to 
present testimony today concerning autism treatment options and 
research. I am here today kind of in multiple roles, first as 
director of the Indiana Resource Center for Autism, located at 
Indiana University's Indiana Institute on Disability and 
Community, and as a board member of the Autism Society of 
    I would like to commend you and thank you for holding this 
hearing. I think that for too many years, the voices of some of 
the children you see on the posters have not been heard; this 
gives them a wonderful opportunity to be heard.
    While I have your attention, I would encourage you to do 
two things. One is to continue funding the Centers for Disease 
Prevention and Control in terms of looking at the incidence and 
prevalence of autism. As I was working with your office on 
providing testimony for today, it is clear that we do not have 
a true idea of the incidence and prevalence of autism across 
the United States.
    The other thing that I would encourage you to do is to work 
with your colleagues on supporting H.R. 3301, which is the 
omnibus children's health bill, which would provide clear 
direction to the CDC and the National Institutes of Health.
    I am probably the oddity on this panel. I am not a 
physician. I spend a lot of time in classrooms and in homes and 
around the State of Indiana, visiting children and their 
families and their educators and other professionals who 
support them. And while I know that there is broad disagreement 
about whether there really is an increasing incidence of 
autism, I know that we are incredibly busy. I know that I hear 
from professionals out in the field and from family members 
that they truly are seeing many more children than they ever 
saw in the past. So I have to listen to their words.
    In terms of the potential causes of autism, I hope you 
realize that autism is referred to as a ``spectrum disorder,'' 
and along with that, that probably reflects the idea that there 
is a spectrum of reasons why children do develop the 
characteristics associated with autism and that each of the 
professionals and family members who are here today are 
painting just a piece of that picture for you. I would really 
encourage you to propose legislation and funding that will look 
at the possible multiple causes of autism, and along with the 
vaccination issue, the issues around environmental situations 
and other issues which parents keep reporting as being possibly 
related to the occurrence of autism.
    I have never heard from any of the families an issue about 
whether they want to vaccinate their children or not. I think 
the issue is in terms of safe vaccinations. As a professional 
in the State of Indiana, I know there is broad disagreement 
about whether there is a link between autism and vaccinations.
    As a professional who works with families every day, here 
is my position. If I could have helped those four families who 
are here today to avoid having a child diagnosed with autism by 
giving them accurate information, I would have done so in a 
heartbeat regardless of what the research tells us. I think 
that is the issue that all of us face, that when the research 
may not be proving it, when we hear the stories, we want to 
avoid further stories being told.
    In addition to looking at the research behind causes, I 
would also encourage us not to forget about the 500,000 other 
individuals and their families who currently have a diagnosis 
of autism and the needs that they have. The families and 
several of the panelists today have talked about some of those 
    The first one is in terms of early intervention. I really 
applaud the National Academy of Sciences and the National 
Institutes of Health for starting to look at the essential 
components of early intervention programs that are most 
effective. I think we have focused a lot of effort on looking 
at specific programs, and while there is some broad 
disagreement about which of those specific programs is most 
effective, I think there is some general agreement arising 
about the components of those programs, and I hope that those 
things will really be looked at.
    Based on the testimony that I have heard during the 
National Academy of Sciences meetings, it is very clear that 
additional research is needed to try to really build a case for 
the various components of effective programming.
    The next issue that I would like to cover is full funding 
for IDEA and the professional development efforts. In a recent 
report, it was noted that 44 out of 50 States are not in 
compliance with the ``free and appropriate education'' mandate 
of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. While those 
reasons may differ from State to State, I believe part of the 
reason is due to funding.
    In addition to that, there is a tremendous need for trained 
professionals in the field. Sometimes, professionals are placed 
in the role of supporting challenging individuals, and they do 
not receive any training or guidance or assistance in being 
able to do so. So I would really encourage that we look at 
providing funding support to States for continued professional 
    In addition to that, you have heard from many of the 
parents about the need for accurate information to 
pediatricians and other physicians who play a critical role. 
They are oftentimes the first people that parents talk to when 
they think their children may have a diagnosis of autism. The 
information that they can provide to families can help to set 
them on either the right track or the wrong track. So I really 
encourage education for them.
    Another issue that I hear a lot from families is in terms 
of insurance coverage and funding sources. In my written 
testimony, I provide the example of a family in Indiana that 
was denied coverage for their child's appendectomy because he 
had a diagnosis of autism. Autism is considered a pre-existing 
condition by some insurance companies, so these children are 
excluded from insurance coverage.
    I hope you realize the tremendous accommodations that the 
families that you saw today have had to make to be here today, 
and in their lives on a daily basis. The tremendous financial 
devastation that many of them face, the stresses on their 
marriages--and I am so glad to see that many of them are here, 
fathers and mothers together--the stress on their entire lives 
is just unbelievable. You know first-hand as a grandparent how 
tremendous the stress can be.
    I also need to tell you that your support is greatly 
appreciated by the autism community. Your support is even more 
greatly appreciated by your daughter today.
    I also hope you realize that when insurance companies turn 
families away, they look to other funding sources, whether 
State or local agencies, and in many cases, that money, that 
funding, is nonexistent or is inadequate for the family support 
needs. Families are told that they have a window of opportunity 
for their children, and at that point, they have run to get 
those services and supports that they need; and when they are 
denied the funding they need to be able to provide those 
services, they will do anything and risk tremendous devastation 
to be able to reach those goals.
    A population that I hope we will not forget is the adults 
who have autism. We have a high percentage of individuals who 
remain unemployed, who are very competent, talented individuals 
with autism; others who are underemployed or in jobs which 
really do not match their talents and skills and interests.
    In addition, many of them choose living options that are 
only a far-off dream--to live in a community, to have access to 
the same rights and privileges as every other citizen of the 
United States. While progress has been made in this area, much 
is still left to do.
    While I commend the committee for taking this opportunity 
to listen to families today, I also urge you to support 
authorizing legislation and appropriation provisions that will 
further the state of autism research. While much progress has 
been made, remember that there is still much to do.
    Thank you.
    Mr. Burton. Thank you very much, Dr. Pratt.


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.

One response to “Autism and Childhood Vaccines Hearing Testimony: Kathy Pratt | April 6, 2000”

  1. All my life [that is about 2000 to the present when I found out about the services of Indiana] I have known this person as Cathy-Pratt-with-a-C.

    [and I do not know whether any of her long names are Catherine or Katharine or Catharine or indeed any of the variations].

    [Another TEACCH lady is Catherine Faherty].

    Which shows you can’t trust these C-SPAN slugs and titles.

    Could you reflect this in the tags and the blog titles?


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