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Saturday, January 9, 2016

More Reax to Clinton's Autism Plan

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the issue's role in presidential campaigns.  As I explain in the book, Hillary Clinton has a long history with the issue, and has issued an autism policy statement for the 2016 campaign.  A previous post noted some reactions to the plan, and here is an update.

Dylan Matthews at Vox:
It's helpful to contrast Clinton's agenda with that of the Combating Autism Act, which George W. Bush signed into law in 2006. The first problem with the act was its name, which implied that the goal of public policy should be to stamp out autism, rather than helping autists.
This is troublesome both because it does nothing for autistic people alive today, and because many on the autism spectrum (myself included) don't view autism as wholly negative and argue that society could benefit from acknowledging and  celebrating neurodiversity. We don't want autism to be "combated"; we want autistic people to be supported. That means government policy that provides services that enable people on every point in the autism spectrum to learn, work, and find acceptance in their communities.
But the law was also troubling because of how some $945 million in federal spending authorized by the act was allocated. A 2013 report from the Government Accountability Office found that of 1,206 autism research projects funded by the federal government from 2008 to 2012 (after the Combating Autism Act was passed), a little under half focused on either the biology behind autism or on the condition's causes. By contrast, only 21 percent researched treatment and interventions.
[See chapter 3 of The Politics of Autism for an extensive discussion of the politics of autism science.]

Autism Speaks:
Autism Speaks urges all the presidential candidates to come forward with a plan to address the needs of people living with autism. We have provided a blueprint that Autism Speaks believes is essential to good public policy. A national plan should be built around enhanced state and federal advocacy, groundbreaking advances in science and research, and a full discussion of the barriers to, and opportunities for, addressing the housing, transition and employment needs of those with autism.
AT NPR, Kelly McEvers interviewed Ron Fournier:
MCEVERS: So her plan calls, among other things, for, you know, more access to insurance compliance with Medicaid, more outreach on autism, a national campaign, help for people with autism to transition from school into adult life. I mean, how likely do you think it is that this could actually happen?
FOURNIER: Probably not very likely because one, all of that is very expensive. Two, you would have to get a polarized Washington, D.C., working together to get it done. And three, you know, it's fair to have doubts about her ability to be able to bring a fractured Washington together. So my guess is it's not very likely, but even then, just the fact that she's put it on the national agenda is a big first step. And I hope I'm wrong. I hope she can get it done.
MCEVERS: That's Ron Fournier. He has an upcoming book about raising his son. It's called "Love That Boy." Thanks so much.
FOURNIER: Thank you very much.