Sunday, October 19, 2008

Two Different Views on Autism

Over at Suite101, Jeffrey Donaldson writes about "The Politics of Autism," comparing the candidates' records in an insightful way.

"To distinguish the two candidates on this issue is difficult. McCain’s language in his position indicates that he perceives autism as an epidemic like polio, a disease to be contained and cured. Obama’s emphasis is more on the life-long nature of the disorder and the lifestyle it implies; he underscores the importance of the educational treatment of autism as much as the medical treatment....

"Obama's perspective is more accommodating of the lifelong nature of the disorder; after a child is born, autism can be treated, but the child still needs an education....Research on autism indicates that children benefit from at least 40 hours a week of intensive early intervention (immediately after diagnosis, if possible) in a 1:1 ratio. The funding for this type of care has been sparse at best...

"While Obama states to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and increase the implementation of the Combating Autism Act, McCain’s promises to advance research do not indicate any intention to increase funding for research or treatment (his website’s autism page is called 'Combating Autism in America,' which may indicate he views the act as a 'Mission Accomplished')."

This clarifies why so many parents raising children with special needs are drawn to Obama's positions. He shows a deeper understanding of the true needs of families -- health care, education, housing, etc. Even if we discovered a way to prevent autism, there are still a lot of families that have real needs now. Obama gets that. McCain and Palin don't seem to.
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