It's been a while. I used to come and plead at the microphone for help for autistic children and families. Up until a couple of years ago, I submitted public comments under my name or with organizations for nearly every IACC meeting - going all the way to back when you took over the National Institute of Mental Health in 2002. Gosh, I've met with you in person more than a half a dozen times to talk about the science, what conditions we were seeing in kids on the spectrum, and the research that was needed to find the answers to help. But not anymore. I realize now that I was wasting my time. You haven't listened to anything I - or the thousands of other heartbroken parents - have been telling you.
Tom, as I know you know, twenty-five years ago, autism was a little-known, uncommon disorder. Today, autism is more common in America than childhood cancer, juvenile diabetes, and pediatric HIV/AIDS combined.
The increasing numbers of children being diagnosed with autism has created a national health emergency.
In a speech at the National Institutes of Health on September 30, 2009, President Obama specifically cited autism, along with cancer and heart disease, as one of three health conditions targeted for major scientific research investment through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Obama expressed his hope that research into genetic and environmental factors would result in strides in early intervention, treatments, and therapies to help people affected by autism achieve their fullest potential.
That has not happened.
Instead of seeing any kind of improvement, or any kind of progress, the numbers of autistic children have continued to rise.
Now 1 in every 68 children in America has autism. My prediction for what you are going to do about it? The same old thing! Tweak the strategic plan, talk about it a lot, do the same old science anyway regardless of the plan, choose to promote the science you like, dismiss the science you don't, move on.
One of the biggest obstacles to doing meaningful research and to seeing any kind of real change, has been the fact that you, Tom, have turned a deaf ear to parents. We've been telling you about our children and their challenges for years. Read more at the Safeminds site.