McCain and Obama on autism

It seems ages ago that I posted a blog about the Democratic primaries and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s ties to Illinois, the state where I live. Now the Democratic and Republican conventions are finally starting, and suddenly, after a seemingly endless primary season, the presidential election is right around the corner.

To help with your decision, the Autism Society of America (ASA) invited the presidential candidates to submit statements about their views on autism. Both major candidates responded, and ASA posted those statements on their Web site.

An excerpt from John McCain’s response emphasizes the economic and emotional cost of autism:

More than one in 150 children born today will be diagnosed with autism. It now affects almost 1.5 million Americans, and costs the U.S. $90 billion each year. Autism has a significant impact on families — bankruptcy and divorce rates of parents of children with autism are well above the national averages. Worse, there is no quantifiable way of determining how many future doctors, lawyers, teachers, or scientists autism has taken from society. Autism is a national crisis and the federal government must respond accordingly.

Barack Obama’s statement focuses on ending disability discrimination. After a paragraph discussing research and education, Obama wrote:

I also support the adoption of a comprehensive plan designed to provide lifelong supports and resources to Americans with ASD and other disabilities. This plan would ensure that their needs are met by:

  • Reclaiming America’s global leadership on disability issues by becoming a signatory to — and having the Senate ratify — the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities;
  • Providing Americans with disabilities with the educational opportunities they need to succeed;
  • Ending discrimination and promoting equal opportunity; and
  • Increasing the employment rate of workers with disabilities, and
    Supporting independent, community-based living for Americans with disabilities.

Issues shape and define campaigns, and it’s heartening that the needs of people with autism and their families have taken a place on the candidates’ agendas, along with foreign policy, our economy and global warming. Whatever the election’s outcome, all of us in the autism community look forward to working to keep autism on the presidential radar after next year’s inauguration.


Comments may not reflect Easterseals' policies or positions.

  1. diane hilton Says:

    McCain is mad about this life-altering diability afflicting our children in record number.
    Find the cause. Find a cure.
    Stop the epidemic.

  2. Melva Says:

    Maybe this part of McCain’s response should have been chosen. It indicates that he has already taken action–somewhat more valuable than a campaign promise? “Federal efforts must support research to improve early diagnosis,
    intervention and treatment. I cosponsored and worked to enact the Combating Autism Act of 2006,
    which is helping to increase public awareness and screening of autism spectrum disorder, promotes the
    use of evidence-based interventions and created autism Centers of Excellence for Autism Spectrum
    Disorder Research and Epidemiology. I strongly believe that diverse and extensive research will help
    us to determine the best ways to treat the disorder. Comprehensive research will give us the tools to
    protect children from autism in a way that is careful, thorough, and long-lasting.”

  3. Jacqueline Says:

    I agree, Patricia. I know quite a few of those people whom autism has not taken from society. That’s another reason I’m offended by that comment. It offends on so many levels.

  4. bonnie mcgrath Says:

    there is no comparison. as far as understanding autism and the needs of families with autism, obama wins hands down. mccain is backward as relates to autism. obama is forward-thinking, modern, comprehensive and thorough. mccain is NOT.

  5. Jacqueline Says:

    “Worse, there is no quantifiable way of determining how many future doctors, lawyers, teachers, or scientists autism has taken from society.”

    I am offended by this remark of McCain’s. It’s as if he’s saying that we shouldn’t value people with autism as much as we value doctors and lawyers.