Autism Reality

Autism Symposium Cancelled – Harper’s Book of Dirty Tricks Page 2

The Harper Conservative government strategy to address the Autism health crisis in Canada is beyond pathetic; it is wretched. It is nothing more than a ploy from the now infamous Conservative Party Book of Dirty Tricks.

The Harper Conservatives’ autism strategy was announced in November 2006 by Health Minister Tony Clement and consisted of a web page and a stakeholder symposium to be held in 2007. Yes there were other elements – sort of. A research chair was mentioned – sort of. The Harper conservatives pledged to begin exploring the establishment of a research chair focusing on effective treatment and intervention for ASD. They also pledged to launch a consultation process on the feasibility of developing an ASD surveillance program through the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) to help shape appropriate ASD programming and research. I wonder which generation of Canadians will be around to see whether an ASD surveillance program, whatever that is, is determined to be feasible?

Of course there is the pledge to address Canada’s autism health crisis by designating a bureaucracy within a bureacracy, the pledge to designate the Health Policy Branch of Health Canada as the ASD lead for actions related to ASD at the Federal Health Portfolio level. Health Canada itself of course is the federal government Department charged with responsibility over health matters which the Harper Conservatives tell us [ignoring the development over decades of cooperative federalism] is a matter entirely within provincial constitutional jurisdiction. Gee, the policy branch of the federal department responsible for a matter which the Conservatives claim is entirely within provincial jurisdiction will be designated as the lead branch of that department for actions related to ASD at the federal level. WOW!!

Then there is the autism web site promised by Health Minister Clement. Personally I believe it to be the least informative autism site on the internet. But that may be a bit harsh. There may be autism web sites that are still “under construction” and actually say nothing at all. Judge for yourself:

http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dc-ma/autism/index_e.html

Then there is the “stakeholders” symposium promised to be held in 2007. As one who has been an autism activist for the last 8 years in New Brunswick I recoil at the use of the word “stakeholder”. It sounds like a property interest in a commercial transaction. I am an autism activist because of my profoundly autistic son. He, with his brother, are the joys of our life but they are not “stakes” in a poker game. And government typically defines the stakeholder concept broadly to include any group that might be useful in pushing the government’s own agenda. Careful selection of a few stakeholder groups for government funding and support invariably results in useful tools for creating division and weakness in the disability community whose issues are being addressed, allowing government to divide, delay and deny provision of necessary services.

I was asked by the Autism Society New Brunswick to participate as the ASNB representative at the autism stakeholders symposium which was scheduled to take place mid-June 2007 in Ottawa. I contacted the Canadian Institute for Health Research to register for the event and was told that the federal government wanted the Autism Society Canada, the federal organization of which ANSB is a member, to forward the names of participants for the autism symposium. Thus the provincial body, the ASNB, could not forward names directly of representatives for a national symposium to address an issue which, according to Stephen Harper, Tony Clement and Edmonton area MP Mike “Bigfoot” Lake [Conservative Party autism spokesman and Autism Dad]is entirely within provincial jurisdiction. The Autism Society Canada put my name forward at the request of ASNB and I waited to receive my invitation. I had been told the invitations would be sent out two weeks ago. When I followed up last week I was informed by CIHR that the symposium was being discussed at a more senior level and that so many names were put forward that it was necessary to arrange a new larger location. In the meantime I had become aware that prominent, no nonsense autism activists like Andrew Kavchak in Ottawa and the FEAT-BC folks had also been put forward as participants in the national autism stakeholders symposium. Last week it was formally announced that the symposium was “postponed” to an unspecified date in the fall.

I do not believe the excuse that the Government of Canada could not find a large enough room to accommodate a national symposium of autism representatives by mid-June. The federal government is THE consumer of services for such activities in the National Capital Region and has a lot of purchasing/bargaining power. There is a substantial industry in the region which thrives on hosting such events and the capacity has been developed for these purposes. The federal government itself owns a good chunk of the national capital real estate and surely has the facility to itself host a symposium.

The Harper Conservative government became increasingly aware that activists such as yours truly, Andrew Kavchak, some FEAT-BC reps, and some of the family members involved in the Auton and Deskin-Wynberg autism cases were coming to Ottawa to participate in the national autism symposium and they wanted no part of it. That is the more plausible explanation for the postponement/cancellation of the symposium. The whole national autism “strategy” could have been lifted from page 1 of the Harper Book of Dirty Tricks recently exposed and which directs Conservative MP’s to to obstruct the progress of parliamentary committees, including stacking such commitee proceedings with witnesses who would support the Harper Conservatives’ agenda. The page was turned to page 2 when the only pledge of any merit, the national autism stakeholders symposium was “postponed” until the fall of 2007. IF the symposium does proceed in the fall you can be sure that every effort will be made by the party of Harper and Clement to ensure that the voices of serious autism activists will not be present and will not be heard. As dictated in Harper’s Book of Dirty Tricks only sponsored, docile autism representatives supportive of the Conservative Party agenda will be invited. … Continued on Page 3, Harper’s Book of Dirty Tricks.

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May 20, 2007 Posted by | autism disorder, Autism Society Canada, Autism Society New Brunswick, CIHR, Dirty Tricks, FEAT, national autim strategy, Prime Minister Harper, Tony Clement | Leave a comment

Federal Government Pays for Harper’s Personal Primper but Provides Nothing for Autism

In the budget of Prime Minister Harper’s federal government there were no monies set aside this year for autism. 1 in 150 Canadians ( approximately 1 in 98 male Canadians) have an autism disorder, a serious neurological disorder which has resulted in Canadians moving to the wealthiest Canadian province of Alberta in order to seek government funded treatment for their autistic children. Although Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has dedicated nothing to helping autistic children and adults in Canada, not one single penny, it does find money to spend on Mr Harper’s fashion “primper”:


Apr 18, 2007 07:50 PM
Jennifer Ditchburn
Canadian press

OTTAWA – It turns out that taxpayers are picking up the tab for Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s personal primper.

After two days of ducking media and opposition questions, the Conservatives finally revealed Wednesday that Michelle Muntean is on Harper’s government staff.

But the revelation raises two more big questions: How much is she being paid? And why is there no government record of her employment.

Harper has been travelling with his personal image adviser for major domestic and international events – most recently at ceremonies at Vimy Ridge in France last week. Muntean helps him perfect his look, including managing his wardrobe and general grooming.

News that Harper uses a style maven had the opposition both frothing and laughing.

“Does the prime minister have difficulty sleeping at night wondering whether he should wear the light blue socks or the dark blue ones?” New Democrat MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis asked in the House of Commons, to loud hoots and claps.

“Can the prime minister tell us who pays for his fashion adviser, and how much that costs?”

Liberal MP Garth Turner also took a shot at his former boss: “It’s a legitimate question. I think it’s an embarrassing one to him because he likes the cowboy image and not all cowboys wear powder.”

Government House Leader Peter Van Loan wouldn’t say who pays for Muntean’s services.

“Mr. Speaker, the prime minister maintains a tour staff, as do all prime ministers,” Van Loan told the Commons.

But a government source later confirmed that taxpayers are on the hook for Muntean’s services – although the Conservative party pays her expenses.

http://www.thestar.com/News/article/204710

April 19, 2007 Posted by | autism disorder, fashion, federal budget, Garth Turner, Judy Wasylycia-Leis, Michelle Muntean, Prime Minister Harper | 2 Comments

Autism Is NOW a Health Crisis; Soon a Disaster

The attached article by Anne McElroy Dachel should be mandatory reading for public officials charged with responsibility for public health issues in Canada, the United States and elsewhere in the world. Ms Dachel takes the CDC, in particular, to task for its failure to portray the seriousness of autism disorder for so many individual autistic persons and the impending costs to taxpayers in the US of paying for the care and supervision they will require in a few short years. While her support for the mercury-vaccine-autism theory will not be endorsed by all readers, including me, the magnitude of the existing health crisis is beyond serious dispute.

Canada is cursed by the same nonchalant ignorance on the part of our leaders. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, after ordering his troops to vote down a motion to amend the Canada Health Act to provide funding for autism treatment across Canada, then put a budget before Canadians which did not dedicate a single penny to provide funding for autism treatment. Prime Minister Harper was not just heartless toward autistic children and adults with the middle finger salute he gave them; he also demonstrated his own ignorance of a serious health crisis which will soon hit Canadians very very hard financially in providing supervision and care for autistic adults, now numbering 1 in 150.

Autism: “A Serious Public Health Problem”
Tuesday, 10 April 2007, 11:41 am
Opinion: Guest Opinion
Autism: “A Serious Public Health Problem”

By Anne McElroy Dachel

The article about autism, No Know Cause, No Cure by Jennifer Chancellor in the Tulsa World on April 1 got my attention. It wasn’t because we were again told that no one knows for sure why one in every 150 U.S. kids is now autistic, or that experts have no idea how to cure them. That’s pretty much the way autism is covered in the press. What stood out to me was the first part of the statement, “The CDC has called autism a national public health crisis.”

As someone who has read news reports on autism for several years, I’ve yet to see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention use the term “crisis” when talking about autism.
Maybe I missed it somewhere, but after several days searching through CDC press releases on autism, it just wasn’t there.

The Oprah Show covered autism on April 5. Oprah started the program by saying that the CDC calls autism a “national health threat.” That was the first time I’d seen a term as strong as “health threat” used by the CDC in referring to autism. Oprah said that 67 children a day in the U.S. are diagnosed with autism, making it one every 20 minutes. That seems like a lot more than just a “health threat.”

The CDC is extremely careful when mentioning autism. For instance, in February when announcing the results of a 5 year old study revealing an autism prevalence rate of one in 150 among eight-year olds, the “C” word was never mentioned. “Autism is a serious public health problem which impacts too many children and their families,” said CDC Director Julie Gerberding, MD, MPH. Is “Serious public health problem” as alarmed as the Director is about autism in 2007?

So why is it that autism doesn’t deserve a crisis rating by the CDC? Lots of other diseases and disorders do. They’ve come out in official statements calling HIV/AIDS a “crisis.” The explosion in the rate of diabetes in the U.S. is a “crisis” to the CDC too. The CDC has an official “Bird Flu Crisis Plan” ready for when the avian flu actually affects someone in the U.S. We officially have a “childhood obesity crisis” and an “asthma crisis” according to the CDC.

While I’m not arguing that diseases and disorders like AIDS and diabetes don’t deserve to be called crises, I’m just continually amazed that the CDC doesn’t consider autism in a league with other serious health concerns.

Another term the health care officials are careful not to use in the same breath as autism is the word “epidemic.” Autism may affect more children than pediatric AIDS, juvenile diabetes and childhood cancer COMBINED, but autism is never an epidemic to the CDC. Surprisingly, the CDC refers to each of these other diseases on their own as epidemics.

As the autism numbers exploded from one in 10,000 in the 1970s, to one in 2,500 in the 1980s, to the present one in every 150 children in the U.S., the CDC kept telling us that it just wasn’t happening. When asked why more and more autistic kids are filling our schools, the federal health experts told us that doctors were getting better at recognizing autism. This “better diagnosing” explanation has just been reinforced with the claim that the new rate of one in 150 is because the CDC is getting better at counting.

The official autism website of the CDC makes no reference to either “epidemic” or “crisis.” The tone of the information has all the urgency of the CDC fact sheet on treating head lice. There’s no indication that autism costs the U.S. $90 billion a year and that it’s projected to increase to $200-400 billion annually in ten more years, according to the Autism Society of America. Nor is there anything about the recent conservative estimate that each autistic person in the U.S. will cost the American taxpayers $3.2 million

Under “What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?” on the CDC website, we are told that “people with ASD often have problems with language, communication and social skills. ASD may display a certain set of behaviors, such as resisting change, repeating phrases or actions, not interacting with others in traditional conversation or play, or showing distress for unapparent reasons.”

That weak description doesn’t tell us how seriously affected many children with autism are. It doesn’t include the children with violent behavior who are a danger to themselves and to others, or the child who can’t talk at all and has no fear of dangerous situations and is in need of constant supervision.

And the CDC website fails to note the other health problems like chronic diarrhea, seizures, allergies, and asthma which often accompany autism.

The CDC may have their own reasons for avoiding attention-getting terms like “crisis” and “epidemic.” This is also the agency that runs the vaccine program. As the charge continues to be made that vaccines are directly related to the explosion in the autism rate, the CDC continues to deny it.

On the CDC website, they say, “No one knows exactly what causes Autism Spectrum Disorders.” They cautiously say that “experts believe genetic and environmental factors probably interact in complex ways to contribute to the onset of the disorder,” but they’re quick to tell us, “…neither thimerosal-containing vaccines or MMR vaccine are associated with ASDs.” Such claims “lack supporting evidence and are only theoretical.”

With new rate, the autism advocacy group, SafeMinds published a press release in which SafeMinds president Lyn Redwood, RN stated, “We are truly in the midst of an epidemic.” One of the things she asked for was that the CDC “acknowledge the epidemic increase in autism rates.”

At the same time, National Autism Association President Wendy Fournier in the Providence Journal said, “Autism is a crisis. It’s an epidemic. We’re renewing our call to the CDC to declare that autism is a national emergency.”

That’s highly unlikely. If the CDC won’t call autism a “crisis” or “epidemic,” they sure aren’t going to use “emergency” anywhere near the word autism.

Others however, echo the call to recognize autism as a national health care emergency. F. Edward Yazbak, MD, FAAP wrote Autism 99: A National Emergency which summarized a report on autism in 1999 by the California legislature that showed “a massive and persistent rise in the incidence of this disease.” Dr. Yazbak also cited the exponential increase in autism in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Missouri, and Rhode Island. In other words, the explosion in autism wasn’t just an isolated fluke, it was everywhere.

In Autism 2000: A Tragedy, Dr. Yazbak focused on the 26% annual autism increase in U.S. schools. The next year he wrote, Autism 2001:The Silent Epidemic, in which he gave the stunning figures out of California of 7 or 8 new cases of autism a day in that state. Dr. Yazbak asked why the CDC continued to ignore autism, “One can only imagine the outcry if there was an outbreak of 4,000 cases of any other pediatric illness in the same three month period. The CDC specialists would be clamoring for a cure and seriously looking for the clues to the epidemic.”

In his best selling book, Evidence of Harm, author David Kirby wrote that through the efforts of autism advocate Rick Rollins of the Mind Institute, the California legislature produced the “first-ever comprehensive epidemiological report on the increase of autism cases in California.” Rick broke that down to “one new child every four hours” diagnosed with autism in the state. He added, “Each of those kids would end up costing taxpayers at least two million dollars.” Furthermore, “unlike children with cancer or AIDS, autistic kids don’t die from their disease. These facts don’t seem to get the attention of the CDC and autism is downplayed. Officially calling autism an “emergency,” “epidemic,” or “crisis,” would necessitate taking action.

The clock is ticking however. The generation of autistic children will soon become the generation of autistic adults dependent on the U.S. taxpayers for support and care. The first wave will be aging out in the next few years and the autism epidemic will be evident to everyone. When that happens, it will no longer be just a crisis. It will be a disaster.

Anne McElroy Dachel
amdachel @ msn.com
Member:
A-CHAMP
(Advocates for Children’s Health Affected by Mercury Poisoning)
http://www.a-champ.org
National Autism Association (NAA)
http://www.nationalautismassociation.org

April 9, 2007 Posted by | autism crisis, autism disorder, CDC, Prime Minister Harper | 3 Comments