And I'm not talking about just knowing about it. I'm talking about why everyone should be calling their representatives to DO something about it.
See, autism is growing at an incredible rate. And, contrary to what some media outlets post, it's not just due to better diagnostics. These kids are truly disabled. I'm sure if any of the media folk tried to get an autism diagnosis for their child, they would better understand why their opinion is so far off track. See, it's a full-day observation by multiple specialists, doctors and experts (think psychologists, social workers, developmental pediatricians, speech therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and just to get to that appointment, your doctor had to see something to refer you there). 'Parental input' is not the basis of this diagnosis, and a young child cannot fake something for 4-8 hours.
Back to the subject. Why should you care? You may say, "I don't know anyone with autism. No one in my family has autism. No one I know has autism. Why would I want the government to waste money on that disability over others?"
So, here's the deal. In my last post, I mentioned these statistics:-The current rate of autism is 1 in 88. Keep in mind those stats are from 2008. -The average rate of increase is 13% per year. PER YEAR.
Using those numbers, I've done the math. If 2008 is 1 in 88, then:2012 (this year) is 1 in 54. I'll throw another statistic at you. One that I, as a parent, can barely stomach most days. Only 70% of autistic adults are able to function independently (I have read as high as 90%).
So that means that, assuming that autism stopped rising today, in 10 years 70% of that 1 in 54 will be on permanent, full disability as an adult. That's 1 in every 77 people. On FULL, PERMANENT DISABILITY. Think for a moment of the financial implications of that on our country. Keep in mind, too, that other disabilities (physical, mental, cognitive) are at least staying steady - that 1 in 77 is autism ALONE.
Now, in order to get that number to stop growing, surely the United States of America is investing in research into causes and treatments, right? They should be, right? Think again.
Here's the latest stats:
National Institutes of Health Funds Allocation
Total 2011 NIH budget: $30.5 billion
Of this, only $169 million goes directly to autism research. This represents 0.6% of total NIH funding.
So, on Monday, I challenge you to write to or call your Representatives. Write to the President. Include these stats if you want. Tell them we cannot afford to ignore autism anymore. We cannot afford to pretend it's just better diagnosis, that it's just parents wanting a label. That this is a real, life long disability affecting more than 1% of our population, and that we just can't sit around waiting for it all to implode. If we do nothing, nothing will change. And we just can't afford that.
Find your Representatives here. Senators here. Contact the President here.