Not sure if you've noticed, but autism is on the increase in a big, big way. If you don't know any autistic people, be clear that this condition isn't cute, funny or easily managed, as you saw in Rain Man. It causes untold suffering to an astonishing number of children. It's also a source of continual grief and stress to their parents, many of whom lack the resources to cope with it. The result is that they're forced to spend inordinate time and energy getting the help they need.
During the lifetimes of many of us we've conquered smallpox, polio and tuberculosis. It's time for autism to be eradicated with the same energy and determination.
The Combating Autism Act of 2006 is a crucial first step toward finally preventing this devastating condition, as well as supplying the resources needed by families of autistic children. This landmark legislation will:
- Double NIH spending on autism research.
- Empower the Director of the NIH to act as an "autism czar" - developing an annual research budget on autism, based on the best science, and requiring that budget be reported to Congress.
- Create a screening program in all 50 states for the early identification of children with autism - short of a cure, early identification leading to early intervention with behavioral services provides the best available outcomes for autistic kids.
- Fund the efforts of the Autism Treatment Network to identify the best medical practices in the treatment of autistic kids.
- Continue funding of the epidemiological and public education programs on autism at the CDC.
- Authorize, overall, nearly 1 billion of federal spending on autism over the next 5 years - a multi-front war on autism from public awareness and early diagnosis to basic biomedical research.
Three words: Congressman Joe Barton.
He chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee. For reasons that could only make sense to a true scumbag, he doesn't want to release the act from his committee for consideration by the House of Representatives.
Let Congressman Joe Barton know how you feel about the way he's single-handedly preventing autistic children in America from getting the help they need.
Here's his contact information:
2109 Rayburn Building
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-3052 fax
6001 West I-20, Suite 200
Arlington, Texas 76017
(817) 548-7029 fax
2106 A W. Ennis Ave.
Ennis, Texas 75119
(972) 875-1907 fax
303 N. 6th St.
Crockett, TX 75835
You can also call toll free -- (877) 263-2833 -- from areas in Texas's Sixth District.
The Combating Autism website also has a form you can use, if you'd like to go that route.
And for those of you in Texas's sixth district, please, get serious: sweep Joe Barton out of office this November.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled artblog.
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