What Will Congress Learn About Autism on November 29?


This looks bad.

This looks very bad and I think it will have very negative consequences and I feel powerless to do anything about it:

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has scheduled a Nov. 29 hearing on the federal response to autism, its first in a decade. The panel, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), will hear from panels of government experts, as well as advocates, including Autism Speaks Co-founder Bob Wright.

Apparently, no autistic people, or at least none from organizations headed by autistic people, will be testifying. I have requested a list of witnesses, but haven not gotten it yet. GRASP was not invited. Neither was ASAN. 

ASAN President Ari Ne'eman gave me this statement:

We're profoundly disappointed that the House Majority has once again decided to convene a hearing without the voices of the community impacted. Less than a year after the famous contraceptive hearing without women, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will be convening a hearing on autism without any Autistic witnesses. ASAN condemns this kind of exclusion and urges the House leadership to include the voices of the organized Autistic self-advocate community.

Safe Minds, the anti-vaccine, anti-science, anti-public health group has been agitating for this for months:

Congressman Darrell Issa, Chair of the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform, has promised a hearing on the problems with the Vaccine Court and at the CDC regarding autism/vaccine research. However, as of August 14th, the hearing still hasn’t been scheduled. We need to show him and the other committee members that the public is watching. It is time to get a date on the calendar. The hearing needs to be held before the end of September so that the election will not overshadow it. We want Congress to be paying attention!

Dr. Matthew Carey is worried, too:

The Committee held meetings 10 years ago which caused major harm to the autism communities. A platform was given for Andrew Wakefield (granted, his work was only questionable then but his ethical breaches were unknown) and the now disproved notion that the rise in the number of people diagnosed with autism was due to mercury in vaccines.

Much has happened in the past decade, but there’s a long way to go yet. The US government has a large effort on autism research, but more is needed. More effort on understanding the needs of adults, the broad spectrum of adults, for one thing. So many topics could use attention. The hearings of a decade ago helped to steer focus into unproductive areas. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen again. I’d like to do more than hope on that.