SafeMinds Recommendations for Clinton Autism Plan Featured in January 27 Huffington Post

January 29, 2016


January 29, 2016–This week, The Huffington Post featured a blog posted by autism policy advocate Craig Snyder, and co-written with SafeMinds board member Katie Wright and SafeMinds executive director Lisa Wiederlight. The blog, Clinton on Autism: Need for a Paradigm Shift was written in response to Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton’sPlan to Support Children, Youth, and Adults Living with Autism and Their Families.”

The authors noted Secretary Clinton’s acknowledgement in 2007 that autism is “one of the most urgent–and least understood–challenges facing our children today,” while commenting that nine years later, autism prevalence has “climbed from 1 in 150 to 1 in 45 American children, with no cause and no new treatments identified.”

Snyder, Wright, and Wiederlight praised the Plan for its focus on reducing bullying, banning certain kinds of restraints in school, having appropriate transition plans for young adults, reaching out to underserved populations, and the development of the Autism Works Initiative. However, they demanded that “Our nation not accept an ever-growing number of Americans with severe autism and related conditions as a ‘new normal’ to be met only with services and accommodations.”

To assist those with autism who are chronically ill with immunological problems, metabolic disorders, and digestive disease; and those with significant disability even after being given intensive behavioral therapies, the authors suggest Clinton consider increasing research efforts beyond behavioral interventions and genetics toward medical protocols. This, they assert, “will result in healthier children and more cost-effective and sustainable programs and services in the next four years and beyond.”

Snyder, Wright, and Wiederlight suggest that Secretary Clinton follow the lead of her former colleagues in the U.S. Senate, who have written language in the report accompanying the 2016 Appropriations bill that “signifies a necessary and significant policy direction change on autism research, away from the genetic and psychiatric approaches that have consumed nearly all federal dollars on autism causation research so far.” Specifically, the Senate report mentioned “research on environmental risk factors that may play a role in the initiation or promotion of ASD at any life stage.” It also encouraged the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to “focus research on the susceptibility of subpopulations to environmental risk factors and consider approaches to the mitigation of risks associated with ASD.”

Finally, the authors suggest that Secretary Clinton’s previously-announced platform to address Alzheimer’s would be “equally appropriate for addressing autism, if not more so, given the chronic, lifelong nature of autism, autism’s higher cost, and autism’s increased mortality rate. The Clinton Alzheimer’s Plan  commits $2 billion dollars annually for research “preventing and effectively treating Alzheimer’s by 2025” and “invests the needed resources, organizes a broad national effort, and inspires leaders in the public, nonprofit, and private sectors to develop interventions to prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s and related dementias.”

While SafeMinds believes that Secretary Clinton’s Plan would assist the autism community in many ways, we are adamant that it must also address the foundational issues that underlie the autism crisis. We see the plan as a beginning, and are looking forward, with our constituency, to working with Secretary Clinton to make it even better.

donatehowHelp to keep the momentum growing!  There are now two ways to support the continuance of these government/public affairs activities! Please support Autism Policy Advocacy Dinner here, or donate to our Policy and Justice initiative here.

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