By Lisa Ackerman
We are all too aware April is autism awareness month. With the release of the new stats/figures/numbers of 1 in 88 U.S. children diagnosed with autism (1) just days before April kicked off, another announcement was shared: the new IACC appointees (2).
Sadly with exception of one, it appears to be the same old group. Since 2009 not much has come from this group supposedly out to change the way we look at autism, help families living with autism, find causes and treatments. A group to lead the charge for answers for the hundreds of thousands living with autism has done very little.
What is IACC?
The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) is a Federal advisory committee that coordinates all efforts within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) concerning autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Through its inclusion of both Federal and public members, the IACC helps to ensure that a wide range of ideas and perspectives are represented and discussed in a public forum.
What surprises me is the lack of emergency to autism, the shocking 78% increase in the rate in less than a decade and the utter lack of support and answers for families. Families struggle with what little is provided, school districts cannot manage the number of children and no one has answers for what happens when the parents die. Very few seem to care. Including the group assigned to care and take action.
What our community needs to request is the basics: make autism a national emergency and put every effort in finding answers. It seems to me the IACC has missed an important step: the real number. What is it? How many live with autism today? How old are these people?
To define an emergency it must be done by a census. Care enough to count those affected. Once we know the real numbers, not a 2008 survey of 8 year olds, we can then better define and fund the solutions. What if four years from now the survey of the next batch of 8 year old show a rate of 1 in 40 have autism? We cannot afford the issue today let alone what the new numbers could be tomorrow.
What I would like to suggest is that if you love someone with autism or care about the enormous increase let’s ask IACC to count the true number. Once we know the actual number of those living with autism, the true number in a timely fashion, we can then ask for answers to questions such as Why? And what are we going to do about it? Hundreds of thousands of families need answers.
1) The new autism rates full report March 29, 2012: http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2012/images/03/29/ss6103.ebook.pdf
2) IACC Committee announced March 29, 2012 http://iacc.hhs.gov/news/news_updates/2012/news_2012_iacc_new_members.shtml