The Hill dot com is reporting that the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will hold a hearing on autism on November 29. This meeting is not yet on the Committee’s calendar and when I called them earlier in the week the meeting itself was not firm (they expected it to happen but it wasn’t certain).
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is planning a hearing later this month on rising autism rates and the federal government’s response.
The panel, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (D-Calif.), has invited witnesses from the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as Autism Speaks and other advocacy groups.
Autism rates are rising quickly. One in 88 children has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) by age 8, the CDC reported in March, a dramatic increase from its previous estimates.
The Oversight Committee’s witness invitations say the Nov. 29 hearing “will address the federal response to the recent rise in ASD diagnoses, as well as the allocation of government resources for ASD. It will also review research and treatment options for those diagnosed with ASDs.”
The Committee held meetings 10 years ago which caused major harm to the autism communities . A platform was given for Andrew Wakefield (granted, his work was only questionable then but his ethical breaches were unknown) and the now disproved notion that the rise in the number of people diagnosed with autism was due to mercury in vaccines.
Much has happened in the past decade, but there’s a long way to go yet. The US government has a large effort on autism research, but more is needed. More effort on understanding the needs of adults, the broad spectrum of adults, for one thing. So many topics could use attention. The hearings of a decade ago helped to steer focus into unproductive areas. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen again. I’d like to do more than hope on that.
By Matt Carey
Note: this was edited after publishing to add the signature and correct a misspelled word (overnight instead of oversight)