Nevada's republican candidate for the U.S. Senate has recently been mired in controversy for statements she has made about the new autism insurance mandates, using air quotes to describe autism and implying that perhaps these people don't deserve coverage or that autism is a trivial condition.
Interestingly, secretary of health and human services Kathleen Sebelius has given her take on the matter Sebelius states:
It is my understanding that Sharron Angle believes that there is a hoax, under the guise of autism, where you would include requests for treatments that may not even be required," said Sebelius, who was in Nevada promoting health care reform with Harry Reid.
Sebelius pounded Angle's comments as "insulting" to parents and kids, adding: "I don't know if there is anyplace in the country where the differences in the candidates are more stark than here."
Autism's gadfly has questioned the value of these insurance mandates in the past, particularly covering ABA, an experimental treatment where the research has used punishment in order to get the results, in spite of the fact that these punishments have been outlawed in California, where I live and possibly other jurisdictions, as well as the fact there have been no published adult outcomes though the federal government has funded this research to assess adult outcomes.
Of greater concern, at least to this blogger, is is the strong statement by autism speaks is that these insurance mandates will make the difference between an autistic child having friends and not having friends.
Aside from the problems of these insurance mandates and their dubious value it seems odd to your humble blogger that Sebelius would be making these statements in light of the fact she has appointed one Ari Ne'eman to the Interagency autism coordinating committee. Gadfly questions the constitutionality of the IACC and the fact that these appointments by the secretary of HHS would seem to violate the principles of checks and balances between the executive branch and legislative branch that this country was founded upon in that these appointments don't require confirmation by the senate and Sebelius is accountable to no one in making a controversial appointment. Speaking of quotes, air or otherwise, check out one statement by Sebelius appointee:
The belief was that anyone society labeled"disabled" could only go so far. Sadly, these misconceptions had the potential to become self-fulfilling prophecies. When the expectation is that people of a certain type can only reach so far, they are not provided with the same challenges and opportunities that educators give mainstreamed students....
Also another statement:
We should recognize what diversity of neurology has contributed to the human race and what it can bring to the future. Difference is not disability and someday, I hope, the world will recognize that those who think in different ways should be welcomed.
Regular readers of this blog will remember that after Ne'eman steadfastly denied that he had ever said autism was not a disability, Gadfly called Ne'eman out on these statements. He subsequently edited the essay changing the difference is not disability statement to difference only becomes disability when not accommodated for. Apparently dissatisfied with this rather pathetic attempt at damage control, Ne'eman and his ASAN cronies deleted the essay altogether from their web page.
Another interesting statement from Ms. Sebelius' appointee:
But if we are to demand equal legitimacy, if we are to assert that a “cure” is not only unnecessary and undesirable but also morally reprehensible
Again, note the irony of the c word in quotes.
Ms. Sebelius, I can't speak for whether some found Ms. Angle's comments insulting. On the other hand, I find your appointment of Ari Ne'eman to a taxpayer funded body that mandates autism policy utterly offensive. I find it strange that you would make these comments critical of Ms. Angle as if you really give a shit about persons on the spectrum, when you appoint someone who does not tell the truth about saying autism is not a disability and claiming that curing people of this affliction, which I presume mandated insurance would pay for if such cure existed, would be morally reprehensible. It would indeed seem your statements are hypocritical and you are a very black pot calling a kettle the same color.