From The Congressional Record
APRIL IS AUTISM AWARENESS MONTH--MOVING FROM AWARENESS TO ACTION
HON. BILL POSEY of Florida in the house of representatives
Friday, April 26, 2013
Mr. POSEY. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to draw the attention of the Congress and the American people to the Autism epidemic that is tragically ravaging too many of America's children.
April is Autism Awareness Month, and I am pleased to join with parents, siblings, grandparents, special education school teachers, medical care providers, and interventionists to draw attention to the rapidly expanding autism community.
When I was young, autism was virtually unheard of. In the 1980s rarely did you meet someone who knew someone with autism. Yet, in the 1990s there was an explosion of autism. Indeed, in the course of just my lifetime, Autism Spectrum Disorder has grown from a very rare condition to--according to the Centers for Disease Control--a developmental disorder affecting 1-in-50 school aged children. And, tragically, the rate for school aged boys is a disturbing 1-in-31.
On December 19, 2006, the effort to address this epidemic took a major step forward as President Bush signed into law the bipartisan Combating Autism Act. I look forward to working with my colleagues and the Autism community to reauthorize this program next year. Though the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee each year produces a strategic plan to address Autism, the billion-dollar allocation of resources to autism has not been evenly invested among genetic, epigenetic, and environmental factors. I must concur with the experts who have been willing to speak out, that the epidemic increase in the rates of autism are not a 'genetic' epidemic. Indeed, you don't have genetic epidemics. While there is likely a genetic component to many who have been diagnosed with Autism, we must seriously consider that there are likely several key factors in autism.
Also, so some who have suggested that the increase in Autism is due to better diagnosis, you don't go from 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 80 in three decades due to better diagnosis alone. And, if that were the case, where are the tens of thousands of autistic adults in their 40s, 50s and 60s. While better diagnosis may be a factor, common sense says there is a real increase and something is causing it.
While some may be borne with Autism, there are many parents who testify to the fact and present cases where their children were progressing normally but something triggered a regression where they lost speech, abilities, and regressed from developmental milestones that they had earlier met. Was that regression due to external factors such as medical injury, exposure to environmental toxins such as lead or mercury, or was it adverse reactions to medications that lead to high fevers, brain inflammation or seizures? We must get answers to these questions.