Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Autism Dad Kavchak Asks Canadian Health Minister For REAL Autism Action

For several years Andrew Kavchak, parent of an autistic child/child with autism, has campaigned relentlessly for a National Autism Strategy. As the father of an autistic child Mr. Kavchak understands the need for a National effort to address Canada's autism crisis.

While movement appeared headed in that direction last year with the passage of the Andy Scott/Peter Stoffer private member's motion and the debate on Shawn Murphy's initiative, the momentum toward a National Autism Strategy has been stopped cold, as intended, by the neo-conservative ideology of the Harper government and Health Minister Tony Clement.

In his polite letter to Health Minister Clement Andrew Kavchak draws on the example of our American neighbors to try and kick start the Harper government's feeble National Autism Strategy.

Good luck Andrew. You will need it, or a change of government, to revive any prospect of a real National Autism Strategy in Canada.


Hello Minister Clement,

Please see the information below from the US government about its latest initiative in dealing with the autism crisis.

Is there any chance that the Canadian federal government might take any similar action in recognizing the need for some federal leadership in developing a national autism strategy?

You may recall that exactly a year ago the House of Commons voted in favour of a motion that called for the creation of a National Autism Strategy. The proposed strategy had four components...three of which involved consultation and cooperation with the provinces. Under your watch, no consultation or cooperation has happened so least, none that is known to the community. Perhaps the creation of such a "new interagency autism coordinating committee" could prove useful in turning the empty words of the motion into meaningful reality and provide some hope for the community?

Andrew Kavchak
Ottawa, ON

HHS Secretary Leavitt Announces Members of the New Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee

WASHINGTON, Nov. 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- HHS Secretary Mike
Leavitt announced today the members appointed to the Department of Health
and Human Services' new Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee. This
committee coordinates efforts within the department to combat autism
spectrum disorder through research, screening, intervention, and education.
The committee will facilitate the efficient and effective exchange of
information on autism activities among member agencies, and coordinate
autism-related programs and initiatives.

"This important committee will play a key role in coordinating autism
research, services, and education related to autism spectrum disorder,"
Secretary Leavitt said. "I'm pleased that its members bring to the
committee a wide range and great depth of expertise, including research and
program administration, advocacy and personal experience with the

Authorized under the Combating Autism Act of 2006, the Interagency
Autism Coordinating Committee advises the HHS Secretary and the Director of
the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Secretary Leavitt delegated the
authority to establish the committee to the NIH, which designated its
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to lead this activity.

The committee chair is Thomas R. Insel, M.D., director of NIMH.

"The committee's first priority will be to develop a strategic plan for
autism research that can guide public and private investments to make the
greatest difference for families struggling with autism," Dr. Insel said.

HHS is active in fostering research and making the results available to
aid people with autism.

Among the activities:

NIH funding and expertise support the Autism Centers of Excellence
program, which the agency launched after the Combating Autism Act was
passed, to seek the causes of autism and new treatments for the disorder.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) supports a
multi-state collaborative study to help identify factors that put children
at risk for autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and other developmental
disabilities. The five-year study, called SEED (Study to Explore Early
Development), is currently enrolling participants.

CDC has reported findings from the first and largest summary of autism
prevalence data from multiple U.S. communities. These findings, which found
autism spectrum disorders in approximately one in 150 children in these
communities, was reported by the Autism and Development Disabilities
Monitoring Network, which was designed to provide more consistent and
reliable estimates.

Federal members of the new panel:

Duane Alexander, M.D., is director of the National Institute of Child
Health and Human Development at NIH. The Institute supports research on all
stages of human development, from preconception to adulthood, to better
understand the health of children, adults, families, and communities.

James Battey, M.D., Ph.D., is director of the National Institute on
Deafness and Other Communications Disorders at NIH. The Institute supports
biomedical and behavioral research and research training in the normal and
disordered processes of hearing, balance, smell, taste, voice, speech, and

Ellen Blackwell, M.S.W., is a health insurance specialist of the
Division of Community and Institutional Services, Disabled and Elderly
Health Programs Group, Center for Medicaid and State Operations, Centers
for Medicare and Medicaid Services where she serves as an expert on
policies that affect individuals with autism spectrum disorders.

Margaret Giannini, M.D., F.A.A.P., is director of the HHS Office on
Disability. Dr. Giannini serves as advisor to the Secretary on HHS
activities relating to disabilities. She is also a member of the Institute
of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and fellow of the American
Academy of Pediatrics.

Gail Houle, Ph.D., is associate division director of the
Research-to-Practice Division, Early Childhood Programs, Office of Special
Education Programs, Department of Education where she oversees programs for
children with disabilities and their families funded through the Individual
with Disabilities Education Act. Her expertise focuses on services for
children with autism spectrum disorders.

Larke Huang, Ph.D., is senior advisor on children and a licensed
clinical-community psychologist who provides leadership on federal national
policy pertaining to mental health and substance use issues for children,
adolescents and families for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services

Thomas Insel, M.D., is director of the National Institute of Mental
Health at NIH. The Institute's mission is to reduce the burden of mental
illness and behavioral disorders through research on mind, brain, and

Story Landis, Ph.D., is director of the National Institute of
Neurological Disorders and Stroke at NIH. The Institute's focus is directed
toward reducing the burden of neurological disease through research on the
normal and diseased nervous system.

Cindy Lawler, Ph.D., is scientific program director of the Cellular,
Organs, and Systems Pathobiology Branch, Division of Extramural Research
and Training, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences at NIH.
The Branch plans, directs, and evaluates the Institute's grant program that
supports research and research training in environmental health.

Patricia Morrissey, Ph.D., is commissioner of the Administration on
Developmental Disabilities at the Administration for Children and Families,
which seeks to improve services to and assure that individuals with
developmental disabilities have opportunities to make their own choices,
contribute to society, have supports to live independently, and are free of
abuse, neglect, financial and sexual exploitation, and violations of their
legal and human rights.

Edwin Trevathan, M.D., M.P.H., is director of the National Center on
Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) at CDC. NCBDDD is
focused on identifying the causes of and preventing birth defects and
developmental disabilities, helping children to develop and reach their
full potential, and promoting health and well-being among people of all
ages with disabilities. Dr. Trevathan is representing Julie Gerberding,
M.D., M.P.H., director of the CDC, on the committee.

Peter van Dyck, M.D., M.P.H., is associate administrator of Maternal
and Child Health at the Health Resources and Services Administration
(HRSA). Dr. van Dyck oversees HRSA's Maternal and Child Health Bureau,
which seeks to improve the health of mothers, children, and families,
particularly those who are poor or lack access to care.

Elias Zerhouni, M.D., is director of the National Institutes of Health.
A world renowned leader in the field of radiology and medicine, Dr.
Zerhouni has spent his career providing clinical, scientific, and
administrative leadership. He leads the nation's medical research agency
and oversees the NIH's 27 Institutes and Centers with more than 18,000

Non-federal members:

Lee Grossman is president and CEO of Autism Society of America (ASA)
and the parent of a young adult son with autism. Mr. Grossman is also the
chair of the ASA Foundation and a member of the ASA Environmental Health
Advisory Board.

Yvette Janvier, M.D., is the medical director for Children's
Specialized Hospital in New Jersey. Dr. Janvier is also a clinical
assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Robert Wood Johnson
Medical School. Her specialties are autism and developmental and behavioral
pediatrics. Dr. Janvier is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Christine McKee, J.D., has developed and manages an in-home therapy for
her autistic child, creating and/or assembling all of the therapy related
materials. Ms. McKee participates in monthly consultations with a Board
Certified Behavior Analyst/Speech Pathologist. She applies the therapeutic
measures in her daily parenting and childcare routines.

Lyn Redwood, RN, MSN, is co-founder and president of the Coalition for
Safe Minds. Ms. Redwood is also on the board of the National Autism
Association. She became involved in autism research when her son was
diagnosed with pervasive development disorder in 1999. She is a nurse
practitioner with 25 years of experience.

Stephen Shore, Ed.D., is executive director of Autism Spectrum Disorder
Consulting. Drawing on his experiences as an individual with an autism
spectrum disorders diagnosis, Dr. Shore presents and consults
internationally on adult issues pertinent to education, relationships,
employment, advocacy, and disclosure. He also serves on the board of the
Autism Society of America, as board president of the Asperger's Association
of New England, and is on the board of directors for Unlocking Autism, the
Autism Services Association of Massachusetts, MAAP Services, The College
Internship Program, and the KEEN Foundation.

Alison Tepper Singer, MBA, is executive vice president of Autism Speaks
and is a member of the board of directors. Prior to joining Autism Speaks,
Ms. Singer spent 14 years at CNBC and NBC where she served in several
positions. She has both a daughter and an older brother with autism, giving
her long-term, personal experience with the disorder.

The following Web page provides links to additional information on the
Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, including information about
upcoming meetings and highlights from meetings of the prior committee:

NIMH's mission is to reduce the burden of mental and behavioral
disorders through research on mind, brain, and behavior. More information
is available at the NIMH Web site,

NIH -- The Nation's Medical Research Agency -- includes 27 Institutes
and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting
basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the
causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more
information about NIH and its programs, visit

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