President Elect Obama: The Medical Director of the Autism Research Institute Speaks Out
Dear Mr. President:
As Medical Director of the Autism Research Institute, I add my voice to Mark Blaxill’s eloquent plea for you to “be that guy” who declares autism a national crisis and puts the same careful thought into strategies to confront this epidemic and work collaboratively to solve this crisis as you demonstrated confronting other crises throughout your campaign.
As founder of The Rimland Center, I have committed my professional life to educating clinicians that children with autism are sick and have medical problems that, when treated, often (but not always) lead to improvements in their autism symptoms. Our center is named after Bernie Rimland (the visionary psychologist who debunked the refrigerator mother myth) and stands for Recovery Initiatives and Mentoring Linking Autism Networks and Discoveries. The waiting list at my center for new patients to be evaluated is over a year long.
As a doctor who has felt very inadequate when trying to help Coy Barefoot’s son, and many like him, I am daily confronted by the nightmare of seeing bright and beautiful children slip away into autism. Coy is the journalist who asked if you were “that guy” who would put the resources of government into finding the 1 in 150 children who are disappearing before our eyes; his wife teaches anthropology at my son’s university. To hear parents who are extraordinarily intelligent and dedicated say things like “we lost him” or “he went into his own world” is heartbreaking.
As a witness in the Autism Omnibus hearings, I took the unpopular position that vaccines contribute to autism in a subset of children, based on my best understanding of the medical and scientific literature. I thought it was the right thing to do; someone has to speak for the children who have no voices.
As a Democrat, I proudly displayed an “Obama/Biden” sign in my yard in the city of Lynchburg, Virginia. I am working with Shannon Valentine, our House of Representatives delegate, on legislation in Virginia that we hope will help confront the autism crisis. My son, who is majoring in English and Politics at Washington and Lee, where he was the Chair of the Virginia Delegation during the Mock Convention, was inspired by the articulate and well reasoned speech he heard when you came to his former high school. The last time I remember being as moved by a political speech as I was the night of your acceptance speech was during Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech, which is a vivid memory of my childhood.
Mr. President, please have Mike Strautmanis or other members of your staff call me anytime to discuss ways in which we can confront this epidemic. Mr. President, please accept my sincere offer to help meet this very important challenge in your administration: to make sure the first Autism Generation is the last.
Elizabeth Mumper, MD
Here is one avenue for parents to write to Obama at the change.gov web site:
"An American Moment: Your Story
"We're counting on citizens from every walk of life to get involved. Share your experiences and your ideas -- tell us what you'd like the Obama-Biden administration to do and where you'd like the country to go."
go to: http://change.gov/page/s/yourstory
Thank you so so much, Dr. Mumper, for your ongoing work with and for people with autism, and for writing to our president elect!
Posted by: Twyla | December 06, 2008 at 12:23 PM
Thank you, Dr. Mumper, for all that you've done and currently do to help save our precious babies.
Posted by: Michelle | December 04, 2008 at 01:06 PM
Great letter, Elizabeth!
Posted by: chantal Sicile-Kira | December 04, 2008 at 08:27 AM
If you are a parent... Love your child unconditionally. Do not let your child feel they are any less because they cannot communicate the way we do or look after themselves. Do not forget to look after yourself and your significant other. ( If you don't have one find one...There is someone out there for everyone. You deserved to be loved also). Join a church. Speak to your friends. Keep up the good fight.
If you are Friend... If you have resources please consider supporting Generation Rescue as they move the agenda towards services and support programs. If you do not have financial resources provide respite services... Babysit, go with a parent to the grocery store, or running errands. Be there to listen.
If you are in the medical community it is time to wake up and do something...
If you are in the insurance industry it is time to make the people responsible pay...
if you are in the media it time to tell the truth...
If you are in the government it is time act...
If you are in education it is time to educate...
If you are in a religious community it is time to rally the troops to support families...
If you are in the pharmaceutical industry it is time to pray...
People it is just time to deal with Autism....
Posted by: Tanners Dad | December 04, 2008 at 05:01 AM
You are an inspiration. Thank you for your vigilance and honoring the Premum Non Nocere principal of heath care. These children depend on us.
Posted by: sdtech | December 04, 2008 at 01:30 AM
Thank you Dr. Mumper.
Keep up the pressure.
First order of business is a new director over the CDC, so the epidemic can be addressed rather than glossed over.
This is a pay now or really pay and bankrupt the nation later.
What a travesty to lose a child. Even even 1% can recover or improve it would be fiscally and morally the right thing to invest in.
Posted by: karenatlanta | December 03, 2008 at 11:52 AM
I sincerely hope President-elect Obama listens to Dr. Mumper. As a nation, we cannot continue to allow more children to fall victim to autism while officials look on, taking credit for "better diagnosing." We need to declare autism a crisis equal to any foreign threat we've ever faced. We need to make a massive effort to undo the damage and recover kids.
If we don't, we have no future.
Posted by: Anne Dachel | December 03, 2008 at 09:32 AM