Increased funding for autism research needed now

To the editor:

In the latest report released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the number of children identified with autism is now 1 in 68. Many of us either have a family member with autism or know someone who has a loved one with autism.

However, there are still many people who think they are not directly affected by autism because they do not know anyone with who has the disorder. Despite not knowing anyone with autism, they are still affected. The Center for Disease Control estimated that the societal cost for taking care of children with autism was over $9 billion in 2011 alone. Think autism isn’t an issue that affects everyone? Think again.

The scientific community still has so much to learn about autism, and the importance of this research cannot be undermined or undervalued. To truly address the needs of this rapidly growing community, we need to increase funding in order to find out what the causes are and to understand the manifestations of, and treatments for, autism. There are many therapies and interventions available to individuals with autism, but the importance of these being research-based cannot be ignored. The need for impartial, unbiased funding and studies is crucial.

Advertisement

We need politicians who will support autism research and our loved ones affected by autism. Senator Toomey voted against several projects funded by the National Institutes of Health, one such being a study from the University of Pittsburgh which focused on the social and emotional development of children with autism.

Those who know the disorder know the devastating effects that it has on an individual’s ability to interact socially. This not only affects their social life, but their career. If they cannot act appropriately around their colleagues and superiors, what hope do they have of keeping a job? While I look forward to the results of the University of Pittsburgh’s pending study, I cannot help but question how much more could be accomplished with additional funding. Imagine how much society could save long-term by putting funding into these studies now, instead of future unemployment compensation. Senator Toomey may have not spent the money now, but what about the long-term effect?

The CDC’s latest research shows we need to take action to deal with the exponential increase in people diagnosed with autism. Senator Toomey may be talking about autism, as he did at St. Joseph’s University, but he has repeatedly voted to not increase funding for important studies.

My son, like the 1 in 68, has autism. My family has worked so hard to provide him with research-based interventions and therapies to give him the best chance he can have to lead a happy, independent and successful life. We have and will continue to take action for the best interests of our son. So I ask Senator Toomey, what about my son? What about the 1 in 68? Will you take action?

Blake Emmanuel

Phoenixville