Congressional Autism Hearing

It’s been more than a decade since the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a hearing on autism. In those years, the rate of autism has almost doubled from 1 in 150 to 1 in 88 children today.  On Thursday, November 29 at 2 p.m. the committee will revisit this critically important topic.

SafeMinds, EBCALA, and a dedicated group of individual parents have worked for months to make this hearing a reality. The hearings will be made up of two panels, government witnesses and public witnesses. Our friends at SafeMinds will be testifying on the public witness panel.

If you are disappointed in the government’s response to the autism epidemic, if you are unsatisfied with Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, or if you haven’t seen results from the government’s hundreds of millions of dollars spent on research; we need your assistance. We must make this hearing successful and effective. The bigger the response congress receives from our community, the more likely hearings on autism will be possible in the future. Let’s not have hearings on autism be a once-a-decade occurrence. 

Here is how you can help:

1. If at all possible, please plan to attend this hearing. Bring your children. We have heard that overflow seating may be acquired for kids on the spectrum who need a more sensory-friendly room. If you plan to attend, please let us know.

2. Contact your Congressman right now. It is critical that they attend the hearing. If yours is on the committee list, make sure you contact their office and ask that they attend. You can also contact other representatives outside this committee. Ask them to attend the hearing and stay for the entire meeting. If they cannot, ask them to send staff.  If you are going to Washington, ask for an office meeting, before or after the hearing, to talk about your family’s needs and concerns. Or meet with them Thanksgiving week when they are home in your district. Remember they work for you and this is the first time in 10 years that Congress has provided oversight of autism activities. Encourage them to get involved in the House Autism Caucus long term.

3. Ask your Representative to make this the first of numerous hearings investigating autism and affiliated issues. We don’t just want attention, we want solutions! This is especially critical if your Representative is on the committee. We need new champions to carry on after Congressman Burton retires. 

4. Individuals and organizations can submit written testimony to be included in the public record for this hearing. Write a statement on your family’s behalf. If you are a member of a local autism organization, encourage them to participate by submitting a written statement. To submit testimony, you may fax directly to the Committee at (202) 225-3974, or e-mail it to Beth Clay at SafeMinds. She will ensure deliveryto the Committee.    

5. Ask C-Span to televise the hearing. Call 202-737-3220 and politely ask that they televise the hearing on C-Span 3, which covers hearings. Tell them this is an important issue that deserves more attention and why it affects you personally.  

6. Thank Congressman Burton for his advocacy over the years and for pushing for this hearing to happen by sending him an e-mail or calling his office at 202-225-2276. You may also fax him at his Indiana Office at (317) 846-7306 or his DC office at Fax: (202) 225-0016

EBCALA appreciates your assistance on this effort. Look for more information as it becomes available. We wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving.