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Saturday, April 23, 2011

MacNeil and the "National Health Emergency"

The last segment of the MacNeil series is a panel discussion:

DR. THOMAS INSEL: I think people are looking down the road far enough to say this is a mounting problem. Let me put a real clear point on this. We have services, which we can provide. But we don't understand this disorder well enough to know how to cure it, how to prevent it, and even at this point, how to treat the core symptoms medically. Even though we recognize this is a developmental brain disorder, we're not at a point yet where we have the kinds of effective, rapid, powerful treatments that we really are looking for.


ILENE LAINER, New York Center for Autism: Over the last 15, 20 years, we've seen a change in autism education where we have a better understanding of what we can do to help children with autism learn and grow. And that's in the education system not the medical. We have a better understanding of what that is. The problem is it's not available to most of the children out there with autism in this country.


JON SHESTACK: You know, it's not a competitive sport, right? I mean, everybody's suffering is real. No one's suffering is worse or not worse than anyone else. But if you look at it this way, someone has autism from when they're 2 till they're 78. And they cost a bundle of money. Then no, we're not spending enough money on it.

If you -- I mean, the story as with many other diseases, you get a disease, it's tragic. You either get better or you die, at which point, you don't cost anybody any money. But with autism, you keep causing pressure on the family, the community, the school, the state forever. And so, I would say, no, there's not enough money. There's not enough money spent on it.

And it's not a question of taking it away from somebody else, it's a question of putting more toward what society should put its money toward, which is helping the most vulnerable people, who by the way, are your grandson, my son, her son. They are not like some freaks you see in a movie, or six aisles down in the supermarket, if it's one in 150 or one in 110, whatever that number is, it's like the last four aisles in your church. It's everybody. It's all over the place.