Autism Research Funding Narrowly Saved, but It's Not Enough

autismWhen as many as 1 in every 110 children in this country is diagnosed with some form of autism, you can't argue that it's not a national health crisis. How to treat and research the cause and a potential cure for autism, however, provides plenty of fodder for argument, as evidenced by a recent bill in the U.S. Congress.

After passing last week in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act was being stalled in the Senate because two Republicans -- Sens. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla. -- opposed it. If they hadn't come to an agreement to extend the program, $231 million in grants for autism research and education per year could have been halted October 1. Naturally, there was a fair bit of anxiety in the autism community.


Then earlier this evening, the Senate struck a deal and sent it to President Obama for his signature, so the funding will continue for three more years. That's good news ... in some respects.

Kim Stagliano is the mother of three daughters with autism and a member of the Combating Autism Act Reauthorization Coalition. She said the funding provided by the act isn't used efficiently and she would have rather seen a shorter extension so that it could have been reworked and the money better spent.

"I can tell you that in the five years since CAA passed, we haven’t made an inch of progress in the battle, in large part because the NIH has become captured by a failed school of orthodox science in autism," she told The Stir. "In these austere times, reauthorizing a broken bill for three years doesn’t make sense. Instead, a one-year extension would allow time to rebuild the act to better meet the needs of American families facing the daunting challenges of autism in terms of adulthood and life care, treatment, and prevention."

Others see the act's reauthorization as a victory. But even with it, there are so many more battles ahead -- for families, for the government, and for the individuals with autism themselves that this act doesn't address. Autism isn't going away; it's becoming more prevalent, and we've got do more.

While perhaps not ideal, a three-year extension is better than funding being completely cut off, better than doing nothing. Because when it comes to autism, we have to do everything in our power to help support families living with it and prevent future families from ever having to do so.

Are you glad to see a three-year extension of the Combating Autism Act pass the Senate?

Image via Beverly & Pack/Flickr

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