A couple of days ago, the democratic party's leading contender, Hillary Clinton, announced a sweeping range of policy recommendations for autism spectrum disorders she says she'll attempt to implement if she's elected to the white house. She apparently had a conference call with Ari Ne'eman and a variety of other people. Interestingly enough, many of these recommendations reflect issues that Ne'eman's organization, ASAN, has tried to implement. I'd like to touch upon some of them.
She recommends a study to assess autism prevalence in adults similar to what the CDC does for eight-year-old children every two years under the Autism and developmentally disabilities monitoring network which was passed when the CARES act was still the combating autism act. The ADDM spends millions of dollars a year to produce these prevalence findings. They track areas, just in specified areas of the country and not the entire country. Why these specific areas are chosen is unclear. Every two years they track different counties and cities within the same state and often change the geographical areas, so the prevalence figures have little value. Also, it is unclear to Gadfly how the CDC prevalence monitoring helps any autistic children achieve better educational goals or occupational goals when they become adults. How are all these people served by the millions that is spent on these prevalence studies? The cost is particularly sensitive in that the majority of autistic can't work, can't get on disability and are either supported by their parents or live in abject poverty.
The CDC searches special education schools and clinics where eight-year-old children are likely to present. They won't have this luxury in adults which makes studying the adult prevalence so much more difficult. Contrary to what the age of autism people and others who believe there's an autism epidemic that just happened in recent years in younger persons, this is the likely reason similar prevalence numbers haven't been found in older people. Or perhaps she wants to do something like the Brugha study whose methodology was highly questionable. It was based on a modified version of Baron-Cohen's autism quotient survey which turned out to be a poor screen for autism. They then found only 19 people and on that made an "educated guess" that 1% of the entire adult British population had an autism spectrum disorder. Not to mention the fact that this screening tool is only designed for higher functioning autistics and not ones who are nonverbal or have an intellectual disability. Finding adult autism prevalence in adults is really like looking for a needle in a haystack. I don't believe it is money well spent when many autistics live in poverty and there's a shortage of funding for general services that help parents care for their autistic children.
Hillary Clinton wants to help find jobs for autistic people vis a vis legislation such as the American Disabilities Act and transition plans and the demonstration programs for which legislation has already been introduced by some members of congress. However, she neglects to mention how autistic people who are disabled by their condition would be amenable to be trained for various occupations to make them more employable. Even if taxpayer or private money were available, how could it be implemented. Most autistic people would have difficulty with schooling or learning a trade due to their disability. Of course, Clinton takes a card out of Laurent Mottron's bag of tricks, claiming they have all these talents and abilities that will make them marketable to employers while neglecting to cite any references or proof.
The Americans with Disabilities act only requires employers to give Reasonable accommodations to disabled employees. Tolerating tantruming, meltdowns and disruptive behavior that would occur at a job by a variety of autistic people are not reasonable accommodations. in one case a medical resident stating that acceptance and understanding of his asperger's was a reasonable accommodation did not prevail in federal court. As was the case of a man with an ASD whose request for acceptance of his loud voice and asking customers personal questions.
Hillary Clinton also wants to legislate bullying out of existence. That's never going to happen. There are always going to be kids who bully other kids. It's a shame, but there's no easy and simplistic way you're going to be able to stop it. Of course, I agree that rather than the autistic child being segregated from their peers because of bullying, that the bullies should be segregated and sent to a reform school where they're locked up for their misdeeds. Of course, there's no more chance of that ever happening as there is of a cure for autism being found in my lifetime. Of course Mrs. Clinton takes advice from ASAN, so I suppose she doesn't want to do anything about Clay Adams, Phil Gluyas, Marc Rosen, and other neurodiversity proponents who bully and harass and libel me over the internet. How dare she listen to any suggestions from Ari Ne'eman who accepted membership dues and donations from these people who helped pay his $71,000 salary in 2013.
Much to neurodiversity's chagrin, one of the things that Mrs. Clinton did recommend was continuing projects like Autism Speaks Mssng campaign to search for genes that might figure in the etiology of autism.
However, she fails to give policy recommendations on many fronts. What of autistic people who can't find mates? What does Mrs. Clinton plan to do about that? What about the fact that the vast majority of autistics who have a seriously compromised ability to work are denied disability. If they get it at all, they have a protracted court battle that goes on for years. Why won't she mention this?
Worst of all, she neglected to mention one word about autism prevention or ultimately finding a cure for autism. It would seem Mrs. Clinton is another politician who unfortunately has been influenced by neurodiversity advocates.
Autism is not a political or legislative problem. It is a developmental disability. We need scientific funding and not politics to help solve the problems of autism.
Will Mrs. Clinton's policy recommendations fly? Gadfly doesn't think so.