The panel, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), has invited witnesses from the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as Autism Speaks and other advocacy groups.We at TPGA are concerned that no autistic-run organizations have been invited to the meeting as of this writing. We are also concerned about the track record of such congressional hearings: they have been used in the past to promote harmful misinformation about autism, and one of the past and current committee members is Rep. Dan Burton, who still firmly believes his grandchild's autism was caused by vaccines.
Autism rates are rising quickly. One in 88 children has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) by age 8, the CDC reported in March, a dramatic increase from its previous estimates.
The Oversight Committee's witness invitations say the Nov. 29 hearing "will address the federal response to the recent rise in ASD diagnoses, as well as the allocation of government resources for ASD. It will also review research and treatment options for those diagnosed with ASDs."
We're asking you to take action, to speak out in support of autistic children and adults and government actions that will benefit them. Please see today's Left Brain/Right Brain post on the hearing for additional information and talking points.
If you can get to the meeting in person, we highly recommend you do so. But if you cannot, you can use the form linked below to send a fax directly to the committee.
If you would rather see if your representative is on the committee and then contact them directly -- either by phone or by online form -- this site makes it simple to do so:
If you want to speak out in person, join The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) in protesting the lack of autistic representation at that day's congressional autism hearing by "rallying at the Rayburn House Office starting at 11:00 am. Gather together outside Room 2154!"
We'll leave you with a sample letter from autistic self-advocate and autism parent Carol Greenburg, and hope it will inspire you to act:
Dear Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
I understand that the committee is planning a meeting for November 29, which is too soon for many of those of us on the autism spectrum to arrange to attend and make our own voices heard on matters that directly affect our daily lives.
With respect, I must note that previous meetings on this subject have not only excluded autistics, which is in and of itself an unfortunate precedent, but have focused on now debunked pseudo-scientific musings on the alleged connection between autism and vaccination.
As an autistic and as the mother of an autistic, I feel an urgent need to help correct the errors of the past with my own testimony, and the testimony of other autistics, if not in person, then otherwise entered into the record of this meeting, as it seems unlikely that autistics' needs will be accurately conveyed without input from autistics themselves.
With sincere concern,
With thanks to Matt Carey, Emily Willingham, and Jennifer Myers. -SR
Updated 11/23 to include ASAN info. -SR