Monday, December 17, 2007

Where Do Autism Services Fit in Your Views on the Presidential Race?

With the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary just weeks away, the question came up at a gathering I attended over the weekend: how important is a presidential candidate's stance on autism services to your vote?

The consensus I heard among four voters at the table was that the issue has to be on the candidate's list of action items. Last month, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York made autism an issue in her campaign by pledging to fund $700 million per year to expand research, diagnostic efforts and services for both children and adults with autism spectrum disorders. (See "Autism Issue Makes Ripple in Presidential Race as Clinton Promises to Spend $700 Million Per Year." A number of Democrats—Barack Obama, John Edwards, Christopher Dodd and Bill Richardson—mention support for autism services in their record. I couldn't locate any recent notes online for any of the Republican candidates.)

With so much going on in the country and world, it seems difficult at this stage of the presidential race to isolate autism as a campaign issue—even for those of us for whom it is a constant, daily presence. So I'm asking you, Autism Bulletin readers, to weigh in. I've created a poll below, where you can click on your choice for the most important issue. If you don't see your issue listed, you can post your comment below. E-mail subscribers can go here to see the poll.


Anonymous said...

All these issues are important. If environmental issues were listed, that would be my number 1 issue. I am of the camp that many of our cases of autism, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, MS, asthma, diabetes, and ADHD are caused by polluted air, water, soil, and food either directly, in-utero, or epigenetically. As a mom of two children on the spectrum, these are all important issues. I need to trust that politicians will do what they say.

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that the executive branch of the federal government has very little impact on autism services. Education is not even mentioned in the Constitution. Most of the federal mandates are unfunded, so it's up to the states to find the money. I personally am more concerned with my legislator's opinions on special education and autism, since they control the purse-strings. Both of my Senators and Barney Frank support autistic causes, so I'm not really counting it into the Presidential race. I was, however, deeply upset when in 2006 an extremely supportive Republican Senator of Pennsylvania was voted out of office. Party affiliation is not important to me.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with autimom...environmental issues are the number one in my opinion. Autism research (real research,pushing the envelope) and education are next. But everything in this world relates to the environment -- autism especially. I'm rather schocked that the environment was not included in this list!

Anonymous said...

I think this is a great topic for a survey.
I heard Hillary Clinton, after being asked a question about education, say that there was not a great deal a president could do, but that she would use the bully pulpit to have the federal govt fund special education.
To me that would be a great help
Hilllay also seems to have autism on her radar.

Judith U. said...

The president does have the authority to require the Department of Education to properly police IDEA. The disparity across the country is absolutely heartbreaking. An appropriate education should not be contigent on your zip code.

Michael Goldberg said...

Thanks everyone for these comments. I will check in with everyone again later in the campaign with another poll and frame the question to include the environment as an issue. It's a good suggestion and now that you raise it, it's interesting to note how little attention the environment has received in the campaign so far.

As far as presidential influence over autism services or special education, I think all you have to do is look at recent administrations to see what the White House can do when the occupant identifies a priority, whether it's faith-based initiatives (George W. Bush), or welfare reform (Bill Clinton), or foreign policy (George H.W. Bush). If we elect a president who cares about education, who cares about special education and who specifically cares about autism-related services, there is no telling what could happen to make a difference. They don't call it the most powerful office in the world for nothing.