By Mark Blaxill
We’ve heard some extraordinary statements in the last week. For the first time in any of our lifetimes, autism has become an active issue in a Presidential campaign, to the point that the major campaigns have all developed an autism policy statement. In questions posed directly to the campaigns (in two cases by A-CHAMP) and to the candidates (in one case by a mother in a town hall meeting), we’ve learned that we have a clear consensus among the three leading candidates about the answer to a simple question.
Question: Do you believe there is an autism epidemic in the United States?
Barack Obama: “Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is the fastest growing developmental disorder in the United Sates and, perhaps the world.. One in 150 children is diagnosed with ASD. These numbers can not be explained solely by increased awareness or changes to the diagnostic criteria. It is a health crisis and I will act accordingly.”
Hillary Clinton: “Yes. Today, one in 150 children are diagnosed with autism, for a total of about 25,000 each year. In sum, about 1.5 million Americans and their families are affected by autism today. This national health crisis is costing the United States at least $35 billion each year.”
John McCain: “It's indisputable that (autism) is on the rise amongst children, the question is what's causing it. And we go back and forth and there's strong evidence that indicates that it's got to do with a preservative in vaccines.”
But if you pose the same question to the CDC, here is the answer you find on their web-site.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “While, it is clear that more children than ever before are being classified as having an Autism Spectrum Disorder, it is unclear how much of this increase is due to changes in how we identify and classify ASDs in people, or whether this is due to a true increase in prevalence.”
The evidence on this question is not ambiguous; it only appears so to the public health bureaucracy. But no matter what other direction you’re coming from—if you’re asking for change, if you’re asking for experience in fighting for health care, if you’re asking for straight talk and integrity in government—the answer is breathtakingly simple.
Autism is a national health crisis and we need to do something about it.
Mark Blaxill is Editor at Large for Age of Autism.