Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Woe Canada: Can Do American Politicians Address Autism Crisis While Harper & Ignatieff Do & Say Nothing

In the 11 years since my son, Conor, was diagnosed with autism the rates of autism diagnoses have skyrocketed in numbers that can not be explained entirely by the definition changes for pervasive developmental disorders (autism spectrum disorders) in the DSM. In the United States several American political leaders are taking steps to address the autism crisis while in Canada, the Harper government passes a budget which spends big bucks everywhere but offers nothing, zilch, for autism. And his de facto governing partner Michael Ignatieff also remains silent on autism issues; demanding nothing for autism as part of his party's continued propping up of the Harper party.

President Obama's commitment to addressing autism issues is well known:


President Obama and Vice President Biden are committed to supporting Americans with Autism Spectrum Disorders (“ASD”), their families, and their communities. There are a few key elements to their support, which are as follows:

  • First, President Obama and Vice President Biden support increased funding for autism research, treatment, screenings, public awareness, and support services. There must be research of the treatments for, and the causes of, ASD.
  • Second, President Obama and Vice President Biden support improving life-long services for people with ASD for treatments, interventions and services for both children and adults with ASD.
  • Third, President Obama and Vice President Biden support funding the Combating Autism Act and working with Congress, parents and ASD experts to determine how to further improve federal and state programs for ASD.
  • Fourth, President Obama and Vice President Biden support universal screening of all infants and re-screening for all two-year-olds, the age at which some conditions, including ASD, begin to appear. These screenings will be safe and secure, and available for every American that wants them. Screening is essential so that disabilities can be identified early enough for those children and families to get the supports and services they need.
Recently governors Doyle of Wisconsin and Corzine of New Jersey have spoken forcefully in support of initiatives to help autistic people and their families:

Governor Doyle in the Wisconsin State of the State Address:

First, we can make sure kids with autism get the treatment they need. Private insurers should cover autism; the treatment has been proven effective, and families deserve the right to see their children improve.

Governor Cozine's efforts on behalf of autistic people in New Jersey were described in a February 3, 2009 editorial on

SINCE New Jersey has the highest incidence of autism in the nation, it's only fitting that our state should be a leader in supporting families facing this devastating diagnosis. The earlier the disorder can be identified and the more services that are available, the more positive the outcome. That is why Governor Corzine has made autism a high priority and has started a series of initiatives that are at various stages of progress. His efforts will inevitably be affected by the economic crisis and the state's financial woes. But as The Record's Elise Young reported this week, some success is already evident. An expanded and invigorated Governor's Council for the Medical Research and Treatment of Autism has been set up, along with an Adults with Autism Task Force and a training program for police, firefighters and emergency medical technicians on how to respond to those with autism. Perhaps the most promising and potentially effective initiative is the "early intervention" plan, which will result in evaluation guidelines for doctors and other health professionals who treat infants and toddlers. Guidelines have already been drafted and may be ready by spring.

Meanwhile back in Canada there is no mention in budget documents or discussions by Prime Minister Harper or Opposition Leader Ignatieff of autism or any commitment of funds to address Canada's autism crisis.

Too bad about that autism stuff eh?

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Marni Wachs said...

The Canadian government, those in the health care system, many Canadian citizens - asleep.

The level of denial and the willingness of Canadians to shrug and do nothing any different from yesterday (last week, last year, last decade) is absolutely astonishing!

Is everyone in this country in a trance?

Sadly, we awaken one at a time as the bell tolls........Many of us live our little lives selfishly and thoughtlessly, until there it is; autism in our own family.

That is what is happening. This awakening is followed by the intellectual spinning of the wheels as you try to open the eyes of those around you. But it's all like a very bad dream when you are trying to get someone to listen to reason and just simply they float by, ignoring you, or in some brainwashed trance, and they never even look at you or listen in the least.

Artistic rant complete.

Anonymous said...

Guess you're not the only one to question why the Canadian government made no autism funding announcements in Budget 2009. Senator Jim Munson asked about it in the Senate QP yesterday: