Funding Autism Research
A hearing was held on progress made since the subcommittee’s April 17, 2007, hearing on autism in the United States.
Dr. Insel talked about autism research initiatives the the National Institutes of Health and various statistical analyses associated with research.
He was followed by a panel of parents who testified about their experiences with autistic children and treatments for the disease
OPENING STATEMENT OF SENATOR ARLEN SPECTER
Senator Specter. Thank you, Senator Harkin, for convening this very important hearing on this very debilitating disorder. We have seen a significant increase in the funding by the National Institute of Health for autism research from $27 million in 1998, to the current funding of $108 million. CDC funding for autism has grown from $281,000 in 1998, to $15.1 million today.
My view is that the funding through the NIH is insufficient. As is generally known, Senator Harkin and I have taken the lead on increasing the funding for the National Institutes of Health from $12 billion to $29 billion. During the course of the past decade, we have re-allocated priorities within this subcommittee–as we frequently say, the gavel has changed seamlessly between the two of us over the course of the past decade and a half–and in some years, have increased NIH’s funding by as much as $3.5 billion.
This year, with a lot of pressure, the budget resolution came forward with an additional $1.5 billion, and Senator Harkin and I added an amendment to add $2.2 billion more to the National Institutes for Health.
Candidly, a budget resolution is only Confederate money, it doesn’t really count until there is an allocation. Senator Harkin and I are working our way up the seniority route, and we’re getting to be closer to the coveted status of chairman of the Appropriations Committee. Only Senator Cochran is ahead of me on the Republican side, and it’s a great position to have to be able to deal in real dollars when those allocations are made.
But, we hear parents across the country tell us about their children with autism, and it’s an ailment, a malady, which I think could be, could be solved if we had sufficient research intensity.
For a moment, on a purely personal note, one of the leading national advocates on this subject is John Shestack, who is the son of a very prominent lawyer, Jerome Shestack in Philadelphia–longstanding friend of mine–and, his mother Marcia Rose is a noted television personality. John and his wife,Portia,have established a foundation, one of the largest non-governmental funding resources for autism, and they have recently joined with Bob and Suzanne Wright for the February merger of their two leading autism organizations.
So, it is very heartening to see this in the private sector, and Senator Harkin and I, and this committee–and I think, really, the whole Congress–are determined to increase funding so we can find an answer to autism.
Regrettably, I’m not going to be able to stay for the entire hearing today, we are very deeply involved in the issue with the Department of Justice and the resignation of the U.S. Attorneys which is taking a great deal of time, and I’m going to have to excuse myself partway through this hearing to attend there, but I will stay for as long as I can.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Harkin. Thank you very much, Senator Specter.
Again, thank you for our close working relationship over all
these years, and for your continued commitment to bio-medical
research and especially to this very important issue of autism.
I had dinner Sunday night with a couple whose child is
autistic, and all I can say is that we’ve got to get the
families some help. People are looking to us for answers and
some help. Hopefully this hearing today will point us in the
So, let’s get started, and I’ll just make it clear that all
of your statements will be made part of the record in their
entirety. I’m going to ask each of our witnesses to try to sum
it up in about 5 minutes. But if you get around 7 minutes or
so, I might start motioning for you to quit.
So, if you could just sum it up for us, and then I’m going
to ask both you, Dr. Gerberding and Dr. Insel, at the end of
your presentations, to maybe take a seat on either end, and
we’ll bring up the other witnesses. It’s not my intent to
question you at that time–but to question everyone all at
Okay? So, we’ll kick it off first with Dr. Julie
Gerberding, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention. Dr. Gerberding, welcome back.
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.