National Autism Treatment Plan For Excellence in IDEA
The President of the United States
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An IDEA who's time has come
The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
Here are some recent alarming autism statistics and concerns.
In 1994 the autism rate was estimated at 1 in 10,000.
In 2002 the autism rate is estimated at 1 in 250.
If this 1994 to 2002 exponential growth rate continues, in 2012 the estimated rate in America could be as high as 1 in 7.
The estimated autistic population of 1 million cases in America today could reach 5 to 25 million by 2012.
If these statistics of the past carry forward through the next decade; no family in America will be left untouched by autism.
1. To develop a national identity for the Autistic population so we can fight autism as a unified group. This will help us to enact laws to protect our children's rights to special education services. To develop an accurate national database on how many autistic children are known, and to what extent treatments are effective. To sweep away the shroud of secrecy of the autistic population and band together as a cohesive national force to fight for Individual Education Plans that truly represent our children's special education needs.
2. To help parents with autistic children develop a plan to address the comprehensive needs of these children. This disease often requires many times the amount of training and supervision that is involved with a normal child. It may also require acute care in some cases. This treatment is very expensive, and financially devastating to our families. We must figure out new and better ways to build in economies of scale to lower the astronomical costs of treating this condition.
3. Autism must have a voice. Those with autism cannot speak up for themselves since one of the characteristics is a lack of communications skills. We as parents, friends, doctors, educators and politicians must all become advocates to speak up for those that cannot speak for themselves.
4. To raise national attention that this condition is now at the threshold of being an epidemic. Twenty years ago autism was a very rare case about some else's child. Today autism is becoming a frightening statistic in every neighborhood in America. As grandparents, parents or future parents we ask that a unified effort be made on behalf of everyone's future to stop the spread of this dreadful condition.
The President and the Commission on Excellence in Special Education have made great strides to create better education programs for Special Education in America. The report is a "triumph for the spirit of special education" and is well written and easy to understand.
However the new legislation written to implement this report, H.R. 1350 is clumsy and difficult for any teacher or parent to understand.
In simple terms this legislation is going to make it harder than ever for autistic children in America to get appropriate services, not easier.
This legislation will make it easier for school districts to refuse appropriate services because it lowers the bar for expectations of outcomes.
It dose not make sense to expect less of children, just to make it easier for teachers to comply with IDEA. This is completely contradictory to the suggestions outlined in the Report from the Commission on Excellence in Special Education.
In order to help autistic children become independent we need far more input from parents, friends and family than has currently been addressed to help solve existing problems with IDEA.
Specific autism related language needs to be written into any reauthorization of IDEA that takes into account that many autistic children need highly trained 1 to 1 aids.
Many special needs children require individualized training programs for several years to achieve any benefits from special education.
The specialized programs that produce results are often more intense and expensive than school districts can afford, or have the manpower to provide.
These proven autism-training programs for children will be denied by most school districts throughout the America and labeled as unproven, unnecessary or inappropriate strictly on the basis of expense alone.
If autistic children are going to grow up to succeed and be independent, many will need access to specialized programs for 3 to 5 years. Otherwise most autistic children will never become independent and will require lifelong care.
Most with autism cannot speak up for themselves therefore, as parents, doctors, educators and politicians our conscience tells us we must not be silent on this issue.
Autism is a bipartisan condition devastating Republican and Democrat families today in record numbers.
Autism is a national problem and as Americans we must all do our part to speak up for those that cannot speak for themselves. It is the right thing to do, on behalf of all children. It is what we must do.
We ask that since you as our President have done such a great job in creating the Commission on Excellence in Special Education that you take the final step and mobilize a special autism task force.
The problem of autism is simply not going to go away. We cannot afford to leave these children behind by doing less.
We must do more, we must mobilize a national effort to eradicate this terrible disease; and your leadership, Mr. President, is critical if any such effort is to succeed.
We ask you to convene a White House Conference on Autism without delay, to develop a program that can take all of the talent and technology that we have developed in our great country and focus the benefits on creating a National Autism Treatment Plan For Excellence in IDEA. It is an IDEA Whos time has come.
Mr. President, thank you for your leadership, and for your personal consideration of our request.