By Anne Dachel
Read Part "Thirty Years of Lies" 1 HERE.
It’s hard to understand how autism could become the childhood epidemic that it is without anyone in charge being alarmed. Maybe it was the slow growth over the past 25 years from one in 250 to today’s one in 36 that conditioned us to accept autism as normal. Maybe it was all the officials and experts who denied any real increase while scratching their collective heads over the cause of autism.
In a number of instances very critical information about autism was revealed and quickly covered up and ignored.
Over the years thousands of parents and experts have descended on Washington D.C. for rallies and speeches which caused only a temporary ripple. Immediately after, the vast majority of elected officials continued to ignore what was happening.
There have also been many congressional hearings on autism. They should have spiked interest, but sadly, after the proceedings, everybody just went home.
Back in April, 2007, there was a hearing about autism held by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee chaired by Senator Tom Harkin.
Thomas Insel, M.D., director of the National Institute of Mental Health and chairman of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC), was there to testify.
This is what he had to say about the rate of autism.
"It is unclear whether the rise in prevalence is due to a rise in incidence, better identification and awareness of the disorder, or both. A similar increase in prevalence has been observed in many countries outside of the U.S., and in virtually every study, boys are three to four times as likely to have ASDs compared to girls."
Two years later, in 2009, Insel again testified before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee. Sen. Harkin wanted to know about the state of autism research, treatments and interventions.
In my coverage of the hearing, I wrote:
Sen. Harkin opened the hearing talking about autism. He made it clear: Autism has environmental triggers and "the rate of incidence is growing." He also said we have to look at "how to address the needs of the growing population of adults with autism.”
Insel testified first. He gave the overview of autism with the standard definitions we've all heard over and over. He said 10 to 20 percent of autistic kids regress. "[They] seem to develop quite well for the first 18 months and will clearly lose language, lose function."
Insel went on to call for “early diagnosing and good interventions.”
[Insel] painted a picture of autism as this mysterious disorder that they're really trying hard to understand. There was no sense of alarm or urgency in his remarks. The words "crisis," "epidemic," and "prevention" were not included. To hear that a stunning 10 fold increase is merely "of great interest to many of us," showed an astonishing lack of compassion for the suffering of countless thousands of children and their families….
To his credit, Senator Harkin brought up the subject of a link between vaccines and autism several times. Insel agreed that "there is no question that there are environmental factors at work, maybe prenatal factors." But he said, "The only factor that has been explored in great detail has been vaccines."
Harkin kept referring to the increase in the vaccines schedule and the increase in autism, asking if there could be an association. Insel tried hard to convince Harkin that while there are more vaccines in the recommended schedule, the good news is that there are far fewer antigens. He kept bringing up the 16 studies involving hundreds of thousands of children. He solemnly stated, "There is no evidence at this time of any association with the number of vaccines, the kinds of vaccines and ...autism."
When Harkin asked about a vaccinated vs. unvaccinated study to compare autism rates, Insel said the IACC had asked the National Vaccine Advisory Committee about it and they felt it wouldn't be ethical to not vaccinate a group of children for such a study.
When Harkin pointed out there are lots of unvaccinated children out there that could be studied, Insel ignored him.
The following August, 2010, the Senate Subcommittee on Children's Health also addressed autism. https://www.ageofautism.com/2010/08/us-senate-hearing-on-autism-its-the-environment-not-the-gene-pool.html
Sen. Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota and Sen. Barbara Boxer from California were present.
The experts that spoke made it abundantly clear that autism is exploding as a childhood disorder and something in the environment is causing it.
Nothing was specifically cited and attendees were told that there were 80,000 possible environmental triggers out there.
They did learn that autism was costing the U.S. $35 to $90 billion annually—a figure that would only keep growing.
It’s important to note that in 2010 the U.S. autism rate was one in every 110 children. Sen. Klobuchar even brought up the devastating autism rate among the Somali population in the Twin Cites in her home state, where one in 28 children was being diagnosed with autism.
All the senators who were at these hearings in 2007, 2009, and 2010 went on to watch the autism numbers get worse, and yet, they’ve done nothing about it.
Thomas Insel continued to enlighten Congress about autism.
In 2011 he testified again, this time before the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health in support of the reauthorization of the Combating Autism Act.
So what did Insel have to tell Congress on July 11, 2011? What advances have been made since 2007? As far as I can tell, Insel had nothing substantial to report.
If I were a member of the Health Subcommittee, I'd have to wonder why it made sense to continue the work of the IACC. Insel couldn't give any specific answers about the cause of autism. He talked at length about the genetics involved. He cited all the organizations and agencies focused on autism. He was quick to say that while environmental factors may be at play here, he had no idea what they might be. Regarding the possible triggers he made a vague reference to things like fertilizers, antidepressants, and prenatal exposures.
Evidently, no one on the subcommittee had read Insel's previous testimony because they seemed quite willing to accept that when it comes to autism, no one knows anything.
Autism may strike one in 110 kids, one in 70 boys, but the clear message from Insel was that everything is under control, we just need to keep on doing what we're doing because we're getting close to finding answers. And surprisingly, congressional members at the hearing didn't demand answers. They listened to the same old recitation of the definition of autism that doesn't come close to describing what desperate situations thousands of families with autistic children across this country live with, and they willingly accepted that experts still don't know what's happening our children….
Everyone in the room seemed satisfied that, as one congressman said, Insel was giving them "state of the art" information about autism.
The truth is, Insel’s job as head of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee was autism busywork. It seemed like someone in an important position was tackling autism. All was right with the world.
The fact that he accomplished nothing is of no consequence. He was the handy go-to guy when it came to testifying before these meaningless hearings. There was no press coverage and no follow-up, but they were great for show. People heard what they wanted to hear. They were satisfied.
During his years in Congress, Rep Dan Burton from Indiana, whose grandson has autism, held over 20 hearings on autism and on the link to vaccines. Lots of people testified, but in the end, everything went silent.
There were other concerned elected officials like Rep. Dave Weldon, Rep Bill Posey, both from Florida and Rep. Carolyn Maloney from New York.
In April, 2013 Rep Posey made a speech on the floor of the U.S. House. Here is part of it. https://www.ageofautism.com/2013/05/representative-bill-poseys-remarks-moving-from-autism-awareness-to-action.html
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…
I was pleased to participate in a November 2012 House Oversight and Government Reform hearing on the Federal Response to Autism. That was one of the most attended hearings I have participated in since coming to Washington in 2009. Indeed at this hearing it was standing room only, and overflow rooms had to be used to accommodate the public. This was a much anticipated hearing from many parents of children suffering from Autism who want clear and unbiased answers to questions surrounding the epidemic.
The CDC was disinterested
I, like many in Congress, were frustrated with the lackluster response from the federal witnesses, particularly the CDC witness that was evasive and took more than five months to respond to the Committee's questions. The responses that finally arrived this month were incomplete, often evasive, and showed a complete lack of urgency on the part of the CDC. I was also disappointed that the federal government witnesses did not have the courtesy to remain at the hearing to listen to the testimony of the public panel representing non-profit organizations and academic institutions focused on Autism and Asperger's Syndrome.
Parents, grandparents, educators, health professionals, and highly functional adults on the autism spectrum are frustrated at the federal response to this epidemic. There is much more that we could and should be doing.
Some believe that toxins like thimerosal, which is 50% ethylmercury, have played a role in the rise in autism and neurodevelopmental disabilities. …
Before coming to Congress in 2009, I heard from some in the autism community who have advocated for a retrospective study to examine whether there are different health outcomes when comparing vaccinated children and unvaccinated children, including autism and chronic conditions. I have continued to hear these requests over the past four years. At the hearing I asked CDC if they had conducted such a study and they said they've done dozens of studies related to autism but never have looked at a comparison of vaccinated versus unvaccinated. …In fact, a recent study they published compared fully vaccinated children to those who were not
Whether the number is 1-in-88 twelve-year-olds, or 1-in-50 school-aged children, or 1-in-33 young boys, we can all agree that the number is devastatingly high. We must overturn every stone to get to the bottom of this epidemic. We cannot afford to see this epidemic grow. We must examine every possible risk factor to protect the world's greatest resource: our children….
Sadly, only silence again followed this speech.
The power and influence of the pharmaceutical lobby over members of Congress can’t be denied. Even more troubling in the minds of many members is the unthinkable possibility that all the autism is a manmade disaster inflicted on the most vulnerable among us.
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