Timeline: The Politics & Marketing Behind The Autism Epidemic | The 00s

Timeline: The Politics & Marketing Behind The Autism Epidemic | The 00s

[Timeline still in progress. Last updated Sept. 13, 2022]

Timeline: Early Years | 80s | 90s | 00s | 10s | 20s

2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009

Autism Politics & Initiatives

The Autism Market

Grants , Funded Projects & Money Raised


Marketing & Media Attention

Organizations & Companies

Autistic Community & Allies


  • 2000

    The Children’s Health Act of 2000 

    Mandated establishment of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) to coordinate autism research and other initiatives within the Department of Health and Human Service.

  • 2000

    SafeMinds is founded by parent of an Autistic, Sallie Bernard.

  • January 2000

    Cure Autism Now: Overview of Autism Research 1998 – 2000 

    Included: Portia Iversen, Diane Chugani, Marion Leboyer, Robert DeLong, D. Branford, Eric Hollander, P. G. Rossi, Michael Chez, Isabel Rapin, Ted Page, Andrew Zimmerman, Anne Comi, Gina DelGiudice-Aschm, Sudhir Gupta, Ed Cook, Jeffrey LeWine, Anthony Bailey, Andrew Wakefield, Steve Edelson

  • February 13, 2000

    Talk About Curing Autism (TACA) established by parent of an autistic, Lisa Ackerman.

  • March 2000

    Hear Their Silence Rally \ Hear Our Voices Counterprotest

    “One day they will see that their cure mantra did more harm to their child medically, educationally and personally then any feature of autism ever could.” — Laura Tisonick, 2000

    Hear Our Voices: Sample letter to Congress 

    Hear Our Voices: A Reply to the Initiator of the Hear Their Silence Rally

    Email exchange between founder of Hear Their Silence rally and an autistic involved in the Hear Our Voices counter campaign.

  • April 6, 2000

    Autism and Childhood Vaccines Hearing


    See all testimony here >>

    Read all testimony here >>

    “The medical establishment was opposed to behavior modification, or what is now called the ABA approach. They said that this was not a way to treat autism, because autism was based on deepseated emotional problems, so a technique that is used to train animals cannot be used to improve autistic children. That was untrue..” – Bernard Rimland, April 6, 2000. Bernard Rimland has white hair and beard and is wearing a tan suit, white shirt and multi-color tie. Also: Bernard Rimland was an American scientist and father of an Autistic. He co-founded the Autism Society of America with Ivar Lovaas, and was the founder of the Autism Research Institute.
    “Despite denials from some experts, there is a terrible 
    worldwide epidemic of autism.” - Bernard Rimland, Testimony from April 6, 2000

    Shoutouts at the Congressional Autism Vaccine Hearing to the Hear Their Silence Rally during testimony:

    “Mothers from all over the country have brought pictures of their autistic children to Washington this weekend. Most of these children were born normal and lost to autistic regression. Look into their eyes, and you will hear their silence.”
    Mary Megson – April 6, 2000

    Also: Shelley Hendrix, Dan Burton

  • April 6, 2000

    Cure Autism Now Statement on Congressional Vaccine Hearing

    At this moment in time CAN believes that nothing is as important for the autism community as moving forward on House Bill 3301 which mandates: Centers of Excellence for autism research, national awareness programs and epidemiology studies, which are critical given what seems like an alarming rise in the incidence of autism all across the nation. 

  • April 8, 2000

    Hear Their Silence Rally

    Speakers include medical researchers, autism specialists, parent activists, and Congressman Dan Burton. 

    Speakers: Pete Wright, Congressman Dan Burton,  Joanne Fradkin , Shelley Reynolds / Nancy LeGendre , Carol Fruscella, Thomas McKean, Dennis Debbaudt, Dr. Bernard Rimland, Edward Yazbak, William Shaw, Andrew Bauman, Bobbie Gallagher, Ray Gallup, Michael Goldberg, Vijendra Singh, Cathy Pratt, Pete Wright, John Martin, Julie Donnelly, Jean-Paul Bovee, Braden Daniels.

    Open Your Eyes: International Autism Awareness Project

  • May 24, 2000

    DEAR COLLEAGUE LETTER FROM Cure Autism Now: Senate Children’s Health Bill

    Senator Gorton has teamed with democratic Senator Herbert Kohl, Wisconsin, and issued this “dear colleague” letter. It was distributed to all 100 senators and this letter asks them to sign a letter directed to Senator Frist requesting a children’s health bill which includes autism research, and a speedy, bipartisan passage free of controversial amendments.

  • July 2000

    Cure Autism Now | 2000 Autism: Gut Brain Workshop

    Cure Autism Now held the Gut Brain Workshop (Hancock, MA) with the goal of bringing together experts in autism, pharmacology, and gastroenterology to address how understanding the complex system of the GI tract could explain and account for autistic symptoms.

  • July 17, 2000

    Senate Children’s Health Bill – Senate Bill S2868

    The Senate has introduced the bipartisan Children’s Health Act of 2000, which includes all the autism provisions found in the Advancement in Pediatric Autism Research Act, S.512. A companion bill has already passed in the house.

  • October 17, 2000

    Cure Autism Now: President Clinton Signs Children’s Health Act, Will Provide $200 Million for Autism Research

    Included: Bill Clinton, Jon Shestack, Sallie Bernard, Albert Enayati and Heidi Roger, Slade Gorton, Chris Smith, Jim Greenwood, Elizabeth Emken,

    This bill is the direct product of over three years of work by parents of autistic children, led by the families of Cure Autism Now.

     “It is very clear that the autism community was the engine that pulled the whole train.

    If the autism community had any edge other than the rightness of their cause it was access to celebrities. 

  • October 17, 2000

    Children’s Health Act of 2000


    “You did it!! All those calls, visits, faxes and action alerts have payed off in a huge way. The Senate passed the Children’s Health Act of 2000, S.2868, by unanimous consent–that means 100 in favor, 0 against! On Tuesday October 17, 2000 President Clinton signed the Children’s Health Act into Law!!!

    “This bill will set up 5 national centers of excellence for autism research where families can also get clinical help. It will study epidemiology and hopefully establish once and for all the horrific increase in autism--and what is causing it.” 

    “It will support brain and gene banking, and it will fund a national education program for physicians so that kids get diagnosed immediately, instead of when they are 3-5 years old and precious time is lost. It’s a really good bill, and we should remember why– the first draft was not written by politicans, but late at night, after work, by the parents at Cure Autism Now. It has been an honor to work with all of you on this effort.”

    Jon Shestack, Cure Autism Now
    Elizabeth Emken, Cure Autism Now 

  • October 2000


    “The autism title of the Children’s Health Act which was originally drafted by parents of autistic children, will correct 40 years of neglect on the part of the federal government and the biomedical research community on the subject of autism.

    “It authorizes a comprehensive federal war on autism, including enhanced epidemiological work by the Centers for Disease Control, “centers of excellence” for research into autism under the auspices of the National Institute of Health, gene and tissue banking to facilitate research, and education programs on autism for both the medical community and the public at large.

    “This bill could not come at a more critical time, as every state in nation is reporting an alarming increase in the incidence of autism that verges on epidemic proportions.”

    “Many of us had normal happy children who suddenly seemed to disappear over the course of a few months time. They will probably never marry, have meaningful work or live on their own. Half of them will never learn to speak.

    “We care for them and love them for who they are, but we also want more for them. For so many years we have put our hopes and dreams aside, but today we can begin to reclaim them. The best scientists in the country tell us that treatment and a cure for autism is possible and now we are on the road.”

  • December 4, 2000

    Cure Autism Now | 2000 Workshop on Mouse Models in Autism

    NIMH and Cure Autism Now sponsored a Workshop on Mouse Models in Autism (Bar Harbor, Maine) to bring together experts in the clinical features of autism, mouse genetics, and mouse phenotyping. This meeting identified important aspects of research vital for advancing our understanding of autism including a more complete understanding of patterns of regional gene expression across early development and ways to begin identifying the genes that contribute to autism.



  • January 1, 2002

    AutismOne founded by parents of an autistic, Ed and Terri Arranga.

  • 2002

    Jon Shestack was appointed as one of three public members to the NIH Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee and served on the Subcommittee on Screening and Early Diagnosis.

  • 2002

    Cure Autism Now | 2002 Autism Clinical Trials Task Force 

    The Autism Clinical Trials Task Force was a consensus meeting convened by Cure Autism Now in 2002 (Santa Monica, CA) in order to have clinicians derive a consistent strategy for clinical studies in autism. The meeting brought together a panel of participants from academia, government, and industry. Five subcommittees were formed to focus on issues of clinical trials in autism, and the resulting reports were published as an entire issue of CNS Spectrums

    This forward-thinking meeting has provided a valuable volume which informs researchers today, as discovery research moves the field to more numerous clinical trials specifically designed for autism. This effort was solidified in 2005 by formation of our Clinical Trials Network, which is designed to do shared, rapid trials among a group of experienced clinical researchers who can enact the guidelines laid out by the Clinical Trials Task Force.

  • April 2002

    Cure Autism Now | Targeted Research in Autism Workshop

    In April 2002, Cure Autism Now held a Targeted Research in Autism Workshop (Santa Monica, CA) which attempted to pinpoint neurochemical targets and research directions in developmental neurobiology. The meeting report from this workshop is an extensive review published in the Journal of Molecular Psychiatry which was one of the first to discuss autism in terms of a disorder of neural information processing and functional connectivity. Pinpointing Autism: Autism as a Disorder of Neural Information Processing: Directions for Research and Targets for Therapy (Unabridged) pdf.




  • 2004

    Aspies For Freedom

    Aspies For Freedom (AFF) was founded in 2004, and established June 18 as Autistic Pride Day starting in 2005. AFF was also instrumental in initiating protests against the National Alliance for Autism Research, Cure Autism Now, and the Judge Rotenberg Center.

  • 2004

    Cure Autism Now: 2004 Innovative Technology in Autism Think Tank 

    The Innovative Technology in Autism Think Tank in June 2004 (San Francisco, CA) brought together a workgroup to discuss the development of products that will provide real world solutions to issues faced by those with autism, their families, educators, healthcare specialists, and researchers. 

    The incredible success of the meeting continues to guide our Innovative Technology in Autism (ITA) Initiative, which has since developed several programmatic areas including multi-year and fast track bridge grants. This initiative is multidisciplinary by design, and the on-going ITA workgroup spans academics, industry, and medical technology.






%d bloggers like this: