U.S. Senator Tom Harkin: Hearing on Autism Research, Treatments and Interventions

On August 7, 2009, 3:10 pm

On August 5, 2009 Senator Tom Harkin Democrat, Iowa held a hearing on Autism Research, Treatments and Interventions with the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education.

The following statements from Senator Harking help summarize the hearing.

“Today’s hearing is on autism – research, treatments and interventions.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 out of every 150 children born this year will be diagnosed with autism. Among boys, the rate is even higher – 1 out of every 94.

“We don’t know what causes this disorder. Most researchers agree there’s a genetic component, at least in some cases. But every discovery seems to raise more questions, as it now looks as though autism has not just one genetic cause, but many.

“Many experts suspect that environmental factors may also be at play. But again, we don’t know what these factors are, or whether they take effect during a child’s first few months or years, or before the child is born.

“We know a little more about interventions. Some behavioral interventions seem to help, if started early. But we’re nowhere near a cure for most people with autism. And still the number of people with autism continues to grow.

“This subcommittee has taken a strong interest in autism in recent years. We held a hearing on autism two years ago, in April 2007. And the fiscal year 2010 appropriations bill that was approved by the full Appropriations Committee approved last week includes a range of activities related to autism, such as outreach and education, surveillance, medical research, and the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee. This year’s bill also includes $14 million for a new program to help students with intellectual disabilities make the transition to college and complete their postsecondary education.

“We have an outstanding panel of witnesses today to help us examine autism from many different perspectives: research, treatment, interventions, and another problem that hasn’t received enough attention to date – how to address the needs of the growing population of adults with autism.

“I’ll introduce all the witnesses shortly, but I first want to offer a special welcome to Joshua Cobbs and Dana Halverson, both of whom traveled here from Iowa. Joshua is from Sioux City and Dana is from Ankeny. I thank them both for coming here today to share their experiences, and I thank all the other witnesses as well.

“Before we hear from our first witness, I yield to Sen. Cochran for any comments he’d like to make.”

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Great Start!

This conversation is a great start. I feel that a study directly comparing vaccinate and unvaccinated children needs to be done to completely evaluated whether or not vaccines are a contributing factor to Autism.