Sunday, March 16, 2008

Autism and the Presidential Candidates

At a town-hall meeting couple of weeks ago, Senator John McCain answered a question about autism. He said: "It’s indisputable that (autism) is on the rise amongst children, the question is what’s causing it. And we go back and forth and there’s strong evidence that indicates that it’s got to do with a preservative in vaccines."

David Kirby, a proponent of the vaccine theory, called McCain's comments "an inspiration and comfort." But many have criticized them. Leaders of the National Physicians Alliance call them "irresponsible" and warn that he is undermining confidence in vaccination itself. "Would a President McCain take us forward or backward in preventing deaths from measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, polio, tetanus, hepatitis, influenza and more? The National Physicians Alliance calls on all political leaders to use great caution with public statements likely to spur panic and fear." A blogger argues that there is no evidence for the vaccine theory. "Politicians such as McCain are very efficient at giving voters what they want. If he wants to be a responsible leader, he should not buy into such flagrant untruths. Unfortunately, as long as there are voters who need to believe those untruths, other politicians will follow suit."

Both sides are reading far too much into off-the-cuff remarks. The line about "strong evidence" was an overstatement. He did not repeat it when the issue came up at another town meeting shortly afterward. The latter answer, in which he stressed the need to improve research and education, was consistent with statements that he had made in 2007. His campaign website offers a more formal version:

John McCain understands that despite the federal and scientific research efforts
to date, the exact causes of autism are not yet known and greater research is
needed to understand this disorder. That is why in November 2007, he joined with
Senator Lieberman in requesting the leadership of the Senate Health, Education,
Labor and Pensions Committee, which has jurisdiction over federal research into
autism, to hold a hearing on federal research efforts regarding factors
affecting incidence and treatment in order to help determine where research
efforts can best be directed. As President, John McCain will work to advance
federal research into autism, promote early screening, and identify better
treatment options, while providing support for children with autism so that they
may reach their full potential.

Barack Obama is saying something similar:

Barack Obama believes that we can do more to help autistic Americans and their
families understand and live with autism. He has been a strong supporter of more
than $1 billion in federal funding for autism research on the root causes and
treatments, and he believes that we should increase funding for the Individuals
with Disabilities Education Act to truly ensure that no child is left behind.

And so is Hillary Clinton:

Hillary has long been a strong advocate for individuals and families impacted by
autism. As Senator, she cosponsored the Combating Autism Act and introduced the
Expanding the Promise for Individuals with Autism Act, in order to ensure that
Americans living with autism could have access as quickly as possible to
evidence-based treatments, interventions, and services. She has a record of
supporting full funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act,
through which children with autism and other disabilities are eligible to
receive special education services.

Clinton goes on to offer a bit more detail than the others. But on this issue, the candidates do not differ in any fundamental way.


quicksilver said...

You are SO RIGHT.

The candidates DO NOT DIFFER.

Not one will come down on the side of those that simply say:

"MERCURY the worlds most deadly non radioactive TOXIC element should not be in VACCINES."

"We will BAN this chemical in vaccines COMPLETELY."

As of today 2008 March 17 it rests in childrens vaccines and is KILLING and MAIMING them.

The CDC admitted as much in 2001 when they asked vaccine companies to phase it out.

The PHASING must stop.

The STOPPING needs to be PHASED in.

Anonymous said...

John McCain, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have been issued with a challenge to speak out on autism and meet with families with autism -

Obama, Clinton & McCain Must Meet Families With Autism

When Autism News on Blogger News Network requested the candidates for the Presidential Elections - Senator Barack Obama, Senator Hillary Clinton who are going for the Democratic nomination and Senator John McCain the Presidential Candidate for the Republican Party to speak out on autism to mark the first ever United Nations World Autism Awareness Day declared by the UN General Assembly and held on Wednesday 2nd April 2008 - two of the three candidates responded by issuing statements - but these statements were not well publicised in the national and international media.

Although it was good to see plans for autism from the candidates we now urge Senators Obama, Clinton and McCain to show their committment to parents, carers, children and adults with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome by organising meetings with families with autism - on the campaign trail. There is nothing like the connection with voters - one to one connections. Autism is a serious education and health issue in the United States. According to the CDC 1 in 150 children is on autism spectrum and numbers are rising. The next President of the United States must show his or her commitment to parents, carers and people with autism by coming up with detailed and specific plans for autism.

We now need to see the candidates meeting with children and adults with autism - public perceptions are extremely important - do they really care for children and adults with disabilities? As far as we are aware the candidates have yet to have specifically organised meetings with parents, carers, children and adults with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome.

So here is the challenge to Senator Barack Obama, Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator John McCain. Will you have the courage of your convictions to speak out on autism and meet with families with autism, children and adults with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome while on the campaign trail?

We urge Democrats and Republicans to bring this to the attention of all the candidates and the those driving the individual campaigns.

The campaign organisers to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain must organise this - not behind closed doors, not just though a statement but in the full glare of the media and in front of voters. The candidates must not forget that parents, carers and people with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome are voters too. Politicians ignore them at their peril.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the United Nations have put the issue of autism on the global stage, by declaring the historic World Autism Awareness Day. A future President of the United States going into the White House will have to take this further and come up with sweeping reforms, help and structured support and reach out to all children and adults with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome in the US. A future US President must also bring hope to the hopeless in Africa and Asia where families with autism are sinking without any help or support.We must look at the issue of poverty and autism.

It woould be tremendous if a future President invites parents, carers, children and adults with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome into the White House next year on 2nd April on World Autism Awareness Day 2009. Lets hope this becomes an annual event where the Commander-in-Chief will open the doors of the White House to children and adults with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. You heard it first on Blogger News Network.