Sunday, 7 February 2016

What The Presidential Candidates Plan To Do About the Autism Spectrum

by Jack Rockett

With the presidential election coming up this year and the primary elections already underway, I have decided to research what each presidential candidate is saying that they will do to help people on the autism spectrum if they win the election. The past for Autism in the United States hasn’t been very good and it is one of the many things that it scores low on amongst other developed countries. however there are some people in the USA who do have more of a positive attitude to the Autism Spectrum but they are generally hidden by parents who say that their child has been ‘taken away from them’, and that ‘it has been devastating’, and see the whole concept of Autism as all negative.  

Since Barack Obama assumed office in 2008, he has only passed two laws that aim to help people with Autism despite being a Democratic president. These were the CARES act and the ABLE act but they both only focused on having money to fund services and not receiving the help directly and the CARES act focused too much on Autism research which is superfluous if the main goal is to help those on the Autism Spectrum. However, this issue has been overshadowed by the far more important problems in the USA that still persist today such as gun crime, no free public health service and police corruption meaning that the main help has been provided by charities.

Unfortunately, the most prominent Autism charity, Autism Speaks, believes we must try to ‘cure’ Autism or at least supress the differences that people on the Autism Spectrum inherently have to effectively eliminate Autism from the world. Due to this charity's high dominance, many Americans support them in an attempt to feel like they are helping even though only 30% of the money raised goes towards programs to help people with Autism of which most is pointless research. Also the US places far too much emphasis on the parents of only children on the Autism Spectrum instead of the people on the Autism Spectrum of all ages. This means that usually parents receive money to buy services so it is easier for them to raise their children instead of the very people on the Autism Spectrum receiving help in order to be able to integrate into society.

Hillary Clinton (image: PBS)
Nevertheless, if Hillary Clinton is elected as the President, current attitudes will start to change as she has published a report outlining the proposals she is going to administer to help those on the Autism Spectrum. This is the first time in which a report solely on goals for people with Autism has been in government. In the report, Hillary Clinton doesn’t agree with finding a cure or ‘fixing’ them and instead wants to make it the law that all health insurance companies cover the full costs of therapies and educational aids for those on the Autism Spectrum. She has also called for Autism Screening facilities to reach out to all remote areas of the United States and for there to be more money spent on transitional programs to help people with Autism progress through school and learn how to get a job or into university. However, she is still saying that money spent on this program will go on research for us to understand the ‘cause’ of Autism more but research over many years has led to us finding no one definite cause and so it would just be money wasted.

Bernie Sanders (image: Wiki Commons)
Bernie Sanders has also called for similar legislation but on a broader aspect so that it applies for all people with disabilities and conditions. He wants the renewal of the Americans with Disabilities Act and has promised to make sure that the national government fully funds the 40% of services that it is supposed to pay for, the other 60% coming from the state. He has also called for the abolition of outdated and failed programs that aimed to help those with difficulties in education but didn’t and to make sure that all Americans have access to all the services that they require. Although his only mention of Autism is within his promises for people with disabilities or certain conditions, his main goals of better income equality and far better schooling will definitely lead to improved and more accessible help for those on the Autism Spectrum.

Like with most things, the Republican Party are incredibly behind on this issue and the only presence that autism has had in the Republican debates is when they were discussing whether vaccinating children should be compulsory or not. Although no scientific evidence has proven that vaccinations cause autism, not all republicans are able to agree that the two things are mutually exclusive most notably Donald Trump. Even though vaccines don’t have any negative effects, Donald Trump still tried to bag in on a story about the baby of one of his employees. Apparently this beautiful baby received their MMR vaccine and afterwards was very ill and then it was discovered that they were on the Autism Spectrum. He tried to claim that due to pharmaceutical companies ‘pumping vaccines into children like tranquilizers into horses,’ it is destroying them. He made it sound like Autism is terrible and that their child is no longer beautiful. Luckily his opponent Ben Carson, who unfortunately isn’t that much better though, stepped in and stated that there is nothing wrong with vaccines and that they prevent life destroying illnesses although his response was only tepid and he later agreed that it would be better to put less vaccines into children over a longer period of time. However, this wouldn’t yield any benefits and would lead to the continued rise of Measles is American schools as children won’t be protected until later in life.  

Donald Trump (image: Wiki Commons)

Across the other thirteen candidates from the Republican Party, most agree that vaccines are important but they all say that the state should control this law or that it must be up to the parents. Luckily no other candidate has tried to champion that there is a link between Autism and Vaccines but neither has any candidate made any plan of doing something to help those on the Autism Spectrum, not even Ben Caron who is a retired neurosurgeon.

For me, the best candidate is Bernie Sanders and even though Hillary Clinton is the first ever candidate to make a whole program specifically for Autism, I disagree with her continued support for unnecessary Autism research. Bernie Sanders is only planning to spend money on making sure that funding for services for those on the Autism Spectrum are met and increased but has no plans for Autism research. Also his policies respect people with all types of disability and difficulty making it more universal. Along with this, I find Bernie Sanders more honest as he only accept individual donations and Hilary Clinton has been accepting too much campaign funding from large corporate businesses. As for the Republican Party, I’ve never had any belief in any of the candidates that much and their lack of Autism awareness has only strengthened my dislike for it.

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