On 27 November 2019, the Senate resolved to establish a Select Committee on Autism to inquire into and report on the services, support and life outcomes for autistic people, and is now calling for submissions. Read the Media Release here.
Based on the terms of reference (linked below), the committee does not appear to have any interest in autism prevention strategies; the many environmental factors including drugs and vaccines that have been linked to autism; the failure of governments to properly regulate drugs, vaccines and other toxicants associated with autism; or indeed the significant economic burden of autism.
In 2019, Toby Rogers was awarded a PhD by the prestigious Department of Political Economy, at the University of Sydney for his research into these exact topics. See section below called ‘The Economic Burden of Autism’ for further information about Dr. Rogers’ research, and to watch his recent interview with Del Bigtree on the Highwire program.
Despite the narrow terms of reference, the inquiry may still be a great opportunity for those families struggling with autistic children or adults to have your say about your and your child’s needs.
The closing date for submissions is 14 April 2020, after which, public hearings will be conducted (dates yet to be announced).
If you wish to keep up-to-date with the progress of the inquiry, you can subscribe by clicking on ‘Track Inquiry’ on the inquiry home page.
There is actually no evidence for the popular belief that people with autism are more likely to have high intelligence, a myth which only serves to trivialise the severe, negative impacts of the condition on many autistic individuals and their families. As neurologist, Dr Heidi Moawad argues:
There are a number of stereotypes about autism, including the widespread belief that autistic people are endowed with extraordinary intellectual capabilities. There may be some highly intelligent individuals who display some characteristics that casual observers deem as autistic, but studies have not pointed to a structural or functional link in the brain between exceptional intellect and autism. In fact, recent studies that measure intelligence in autism point to a tendency toward lower than average objective measures of cognitive aptitude among those with autism.
In 2018, 60 Minutes Australia reported on the Whelan family, and their heart-wrenching struggle to cope with their much-loved 12 year old son’s increasingly violent episodes. Click here to see the video.
In 2017, the Productivity Commission reported that the National Disability Insurance Scheme is estimated to cost at least $22 billion in its first year of full operation (page 3). This estimate, which does not include income support payments such as the Disability Support Pension (DSP), is likely to blow out significantly due to a higher than expected demand with respect to children with autism and intellectual disability (page 17).
As mentioned in the introduction above, Toby Rogers was awarded a PhD for his thesis, which looked at the many environmental factors including drugs and vaccines that have been linked to autism; the failure of government to properly regulate drugs, vaccines and other toxicants associated with autism; and the significant economic burden of autism. His thesis is called ‘The Political Economy of Autism’, the abstract of which is copied below:
Autism is a global epidemic. An estimated 1 in 40 children in Australia, 1 in 64 children in the U.K., and 1 in 36 children in the U.S. have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This is an enormous increase from the first known autism prevalence study in the U.S. in 1970, that established an autism prevalence rate of less than 1 per 10,000. Several studies have shown that changes in diagnostic criteria account for only a small fraction of the increased prevalence. Families of children on the spectrum face extraordinary additional expenses and decreased earnings as one parent often becomes a caregiver. Autism cost the U.S. $268 billion (1.5% of GDP) in 2015; if autism continues to increase at its current rate, autism will cost the U.S. over $1 trillion (3.6% of GDP) in 2025 (as a point of comparison, U.S. Defense Department spending is 3.1% of GDP).
Over the last decade, several groups of leading epidemiologists, doctors, and public health experts have published consensus statements declaring that toxicants in the environment are contributing to the rising prevalence of neurodevelopmental disorders including autism. Beyond the consensus statements, a range of independent researchers have identified many additional factors that appear to increase autism risk. Given rising prevalence rates and the extraordinary impacts of ASD on individuals, families, and communities, what explains why public health authorities, thus far, have failed to ban or restrict toxicants that have been shown to increase autism risk? I argue that autism is not only a public health issue, it also represents a crisis of political economy. In this thesis I will show that: capitalism has transformed science and medicine from a focus on use values to a focus on exchange values; regulation is largely a reflection of political power not scientific evidence; and cultural and financial capture are blocking the sorts of regulatory responses that are necessary to stop the autism epidemic.
Source: The Political Economy of Autism (page vi) (emphasis ours)
You can watch Dr Rogers’ explosive interview with Del Bigtree below, which commences around the 52.20 minute mark.