"The autism bill has already become one of the most talked-about this session. SB55 passed through to the Senate Business and Labor Committee and early this week was awaiting action on the Senate floor.
"Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, who voted in favor of SB55, said the bill has introduced much-needed discussion on the treatment of the devastating disease. Utah's rate of autism is 1 in 47 children, the highest in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."
With a huge colorful pit of 18,532 balls - each representing a Utah child with autism - set up in the Capitol rotunda on Friday, advocates hoped to drive home the impact of the complex brain disorder on the state's families.
"A bill that would mandate insurance coverage for autism therapy in Utah could be debated by the Senate within days, but whether a compromise can be struck to pass HB55 remains in question.
"Sen. Brian Shiozawa, R-Çottonwood Heights - a physician and past president of the Utah Medical Association - is sponsoring SB55, designed to deliver insurance coverage for thousands of Utah's 18,532 children who have been diagnosed with autism. Children age nine and younger could receive up to $50,000 in annual coverage, while youth ages nine to 17 would qualify for $25,000 per year. Insurers oppose a mandate."
I'm curious why Sen. Deidre Henderson and Sen. David Hinkins voted against SB55. The Salt Lake Tribune has published a number of stories on this issue. We're repeatedly told that Utah has the nation's highest autism rate, one in every 47 children (and that also means that for boys alone, it's one in every 32 boys). How do health officials explain this?
Aren't Henderson and Hinkins the least bit bit concerned about the future? Experts tell us that 80 percent of Americans with autism are under the age of 18. Imagine the future when thousands of young adults with autism age out of school and become dependent on the taxpayers of Utah for their support and care. The cost of their care will bankrupt social services.
Dr. Brian Shiozawa knows how vital this issue is. A once rare disorder is now so common that everyone someone with an autistic child and no official can tell us why. The rates are based on studies of eight year olds, not eighty year olds. No one has ever shown us a comparable rate among adults--especially adults with classic autism whose symptoms are easily recognized.
I would ask Dr. Shiozawa what he thinks about the numbers. How does he explain the rate nationally and in Utah? What if the numbers continue to increase? When is someone going to do something to address autism?
"Autism risk might be cut nearly in half by making sure that mothers are taking supplements containing folic acid, a B vitamin, at the time of conception and in the early months of pregnancy.
"'This is important because this is something women can do to reduce the risk of autism,' says Alycia Halladay, Senior Director of Clinical and Environmental Sciences at Autism Speaks, an advocacy group.
"The study, published in the new issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, followed 85,176 children born in Norway. Only 114, or 0.13%, of those children had autistic disorder. But 0.2% of the children whose mothers did not take folic acid had autism, compared to 0.1% of the children of mothers who took the vitamin in pill form. All told, women who took folic acid supplements before and early in pregnancy were 39% less likely to have autistic children. Stated differently, of every 10 children who would have become autistic without the folic acid supplements, 6 would be autistic with them."
My favorite line in this story is when the lead researcher said, 'It doesn't prevent autism. Clearly some women who take folic acid will go on to have an autistic child. But it is something that women can do and can feel empowered to do.'
What does that mean? Compare these statements to what the headline says.
Halladay also said, 'There are also factors that increase the risk of autism, including infections early in pregnancy, premature birth, and pesticide and chemical exposure.' WHAT CHEMICAL EXPOSURE? She doesn't say.
"The state of Minnesota is being urged to pay for an intensive -- and controversial -- form of autism therapy for children on Medical Assistance, even though scientists are uncertain of its effectiveness.
"The recommendation, from a state advisory panel, would create the first 'autism-specific strategy' for thousands of families covered by the state health care program for the poor and disabled.
"Under the plan, which would need both legislative and federal approval, the state would pay for a treatment known as early intensive behavior therapy, which advocates say is the best hope for children with autism. In some cases, the treatment can include up to 40 hours a week of one-on-one therapy and cost up to $100,000 a year."
So now intensive behavioral therapy is now unproven? Maybe the real problem with autism is that it costs too much. No matter how much officials and the media try to cover up what autism is doing to America's children, the one deniable truth is that this disabled generation isn't going away.