Chapter 9 – Autism: Research on Autism

Autism has increased 172% in the 1990s. Why? This disorder that impairs language and impedes social skills is becoming a rising phenomena that is affecting thousands of children, mainly males, in the United States and the world. The autistic child is characterized by repetitive movements, obsessive desires, lack of eye contact, and socially impaired or unacceptable behavior. Even though the autistic child may not show these signs at birth, the symptoms will appear at about the age of a year and a half, and the child will slowly loose what speech or communication they had gained previously.

To this date, there is no cause or cure that can be determined. Though research has speculated on genetic disorders or vaccine related incidents, there is no concrete evidence that autism derives from any of these theories. There have been foundations set up in the Colorado area that are beginning to gather data about autism. The start was slow and the patience of parents with autistic children is wearing thin. The physical and mental exhaustion of raising an autistic child is beginning to show on parents, teachers, and medical personal.

The parents of these children are spending thousands in special classes that deal with speech, social skills, and behavior, and their money is not returning the yield of research that is needed to help this epidemic problem. Parents have spent hours scanning the web hoping for a glimmer of hope from a researcher or parent who has observed a medical breakthrough. The education and treatment of autistic children has reached monumental propertion, while the government has not put in a full effort

In the early 1990s, only a dozen or so doctors or scientists were totally devoted to the study of autism. Society is just seeing the need for more research, but the parents of autistic children have seen and have desired the need for almost two decades. It is estimated that the care for an autistic child will reach around four million dollars per child during their lifetime. This includes the special educational services that are draining the funds from our public schools. An autistic child who attends public school has a full time teacher, a single paraprofessional assigned to them, speech therapist, occupational therapists, behavior specialist, and psychologists.

The annual government money spent on a special education child is six thousand five hundred dollars. The money spent on the autistic child by the school system sometimes cost in excess of ten thousand dollars. The money is pulled from regular education classes, after school programs, and other programs that are vital for a public school to educate its entire population. The money comes from your taxes, but the government is doing little to facilitate research that could bring down public cost.

This is only the public’s contribution, indirect from the government. Think about the costs of the parents and the restriction of a right to live a normal life. These parents and teachers should be applauded, but the call for more money for research from the government has to be made. If you feel strongly about this, contact your state congressman or representative and tell them. The public and private cost of autism will rise as fast as the percentage of cases diagnosed.  With the rate of increase at 172%, how can  we afford not to fund research?

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