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If President Obama Had Been Talking About the Autism "Spill"

Posted Jun 17 2010 12:00am

Obama Managing Editor's Note: Ralph Toddre has put into a post what many of us were thinking as we listened to President Obama discuss the environmental catastrophe that now threatens our Gulf ecosystems, and the both the livelihoods and health of millions of Americans. What if the President were talking about autism?

By Ralph Toddre

Good evening. As we speak, our nation faces a multitude of challenges, and tonight I want to speak with you about the battle we are waging against Autism, an epidemic that is assaulting our citizens nationwide, as well as those worldwide.

Because there has never been an epidemic of this kind, of this size, stopping it has tested the limits of human technology. That’s why I have assembled a team of our nation’s best scientists and doctors to tackle this challenge. Scientists at our national labs and experts from academia have also provided ideas and advice.

As a result of these efforts, we’ve directed the NIH, CDC, and the pharmaceuticals to mobilize additional people, equipment, and technology. And in the coming weeks and months, these efforts should clean up the toxins and delivery methods in 90% of all vaccinations and medicines administered in this country. This is until they find the cause, and stop this epidemic completely.

Already, Autism is the worst neuro-biological disaster America has ever faced. And unlike an earthquake or a hurricane, it’s not a single event that does its damage in a matter of minutes or days. The damage caused by this epidemic, is one we will be fighting for years and years.

But make no mistake: We will fight this with everything we’ve got, for as long as it takes. We will make the pharmaceuticals pay for the damages their companies have caused. And we will do whatever’s necessary to help our citizens recover from this tragedy that we have caused.

Tonight, I’d like to lay out for you what our battle plan is going forward: what were doing to clean up vaccinations, what we’re doing to help our children, and what we’re doing to make sure that a catastrophe like this never happens again.

First the cleanup:

We now have nearly 30,000 personnel who are working across the country to remove vaccinations and medicines that contain toxins. But we have to recognize that, despite our best efforts, Autism has caused devastating damage to our citizens. And sadly, no matter how effective our response is, there will be more Autism and more damage before this siege is done.

That is why the second thing we’re focused on is the recovery of our children and citizens affected by this disease. I’ve talked to advocates and families. The sadness and anger that they feel is not just about the loss of their child development and the financial devastation they have incurred; it’s about a wrenching anxiety that an entire generation may be lost.

I refuse to let that happen. Tomorrow I meet with the Chairmen and CEO’s of the pharmaceutical companies to inform them that they are to set aside whatever resources are required to compensate the families and individuals who have been harmed as a result of their company’s recklessness.

And this fund will not be controlled by them. In order to insure that all legitimate claims are paid out in a fair and timely manner, the account must and will be administered by an independent third party. Beyond compensation in the short term, it’s also clear we need a long-term plan for recovery and cure.

That’s why we must make a commitment to our citizens that goes beyond responding to the crisis of the moment.

I make that commitment tonight.

The third part of our response plan is the steps we’re taking to ensure that a disaster like this does not happen again.

The purpose of the FDA, NIH, and CDC was to insure that what we give our children is absolutely safe, that proper technology would be in place and the necessary precautions would be taken before a drug or food was put on the market. That obviously was not the case, and I want to know why. The American people deserve to know why. The families I met with last week deserve to know why.

And I have established a national commission to understand the causes of this disease and offer recommendations on what additional safety and environmental standards we need to put in place.

Now one place we’ve already begun to take action is at the government agencies in charge of regulating the pharmaceutical companies, the CDC.

Over the last three decades, this agency has become emblematic of a failed philosophy that views all regulations with hostility, a philosophy that says corporations should be allowed to play by their own rules and police themselves, and to debunk all others that try to shed a light on what they have done to our children. At this agency, industry insiders were put in charge of industry oversight. Pharmaceutical companies showered regulators and researchers with gifts and favors and were allowed to control and write their own regulations. We need better regulations, better safety standards and better enforcement.

Time and again, the path forward has been blocked, not only by the pharma lobbyists, but also a lack of political courage and candor. The consequences of our inaction are now in plain sight.

We cannot consign our children to this future. Now is the moment for this generation to embark on a national mission to unleash America’s innovation and seize control of our own destiny.

Now, there are costs associated with this, and there are some who believe that we cannot afford those costs right now. I say we cannot afford not to change, because the long-term cost to our children, our economy, and our nation are far greater.

There are numerous approaches that have merit and deserve a fair hearing in the months ahead. But the one approach I will not accept is inaction. The one answer I will not settle for is the idea that this challenge is somehow too big and too difficult to meet.

What has defined us as a nation since our founding is the capacity to shape our destiny, our determination to fight for the America we want for our children. Even if we’re unsure exactly what that looks like, even if we don’t yet precisely know how we’re going to get there, we know we’ll get there.

It’s a faith in the future that sustains us as a people. It is that same faith that sustains our children and families affected by Autism.

Autism is not the last crisis America will face. This nation has known hard times before, and we surely will know them again. Autism is something we must stop now. What sees us through—what has always seen us through—is our strength, our resilience, and our unyielding faith that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it.

Tonight we pray for that courage, we pray for those affected by Autism, and we pray that a hand may guide us through the storm to a brighter day.

Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.

Ralph is the father of 4 children, 2 of whom have Autism, which inspired him to become Founder and President of the Autism Coalition of Nevada. ACON’s mission is to unite advocacy groups, families, and public/private sector, to create a strong legislative presence with one voice; one cause. ACON was the driving force behind 2007 legislation that acquired self directed funding for families, and secured an unprecedented place in Nevada’s General Fund Budget, as well as the creation of the Nevada Autism Task Force. The Nevada Autism Task Force is a Governor appointed group assigned the responsibility to report to the Governor and Legislatures, the needs in the State to assist persons and families affected by Autism.  Ralph was appointed as Chairman of the Task Force by the Governor.

In December of 2008, Ralph was commissioned by Governor Jim Gibbons to serve on the Nevada Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorders.  In June of 2009, due to the efforts of this Commission, ACON, and other advocacy groups, local and national, AB162 was passed, and Nevada became the 11th State to mandate insurance coverage for ASD.

Ralph is also a member of the Board of Directors of the M.I.N.D Institute at UC Davis, one of the world’s top Autism research institutes.

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