Did you know your recent appointee to the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities, Peter Bell of Autism Speaks, has a long history of supporting pseudo-science that can harm children? It’s true; Autism Speaks’ Executive Vice President of Programs and Services supports the widely debunked and incredibly harmful theory that vaccines cause autism.
Many people don’t know that one of the most important people in the Autism Speaks camp is an anti-vaxer. It would be an embarrassment to Autism Speaks if they had to admit that they still hold onto a bogus theory that could potentially kill children. Thank goodness Left Brain/Right Brain’s Kevin Leitch is paying attention.
There is more. In January of 2009, Autism Speaks withdrew its support of the Inter-Agency Autism Coordinating Committee’s (IACC) Strategic Plan for Autism Research when IACC made a decision not to include research objectives connecting vaccines to autism. As a result, Alison Singer, a high-ranking official from Autism Speaks resigned. In an interview with Newsweek, Singer stated:
At some point, you have to say, “This question has been asked and answered and it’s time to move on.” We need to be able to say, “Yes, we are now satisfied that the earth is round.”
Maybe it is wrong to assume that Bell–being the high-level autism advocate that he is–actually is a tinfoil-hat-wearing fool. Perhaps his views have changed since Wakefield has been discredited. Therefore I’d like to ask him a simple question:
Mr. Bell, do you still believe that vaccines cause autism?
While we are waiting for an answer, there are other problems with Peter Bell and Autism Speaks. In their mission statement, Autism Speaks says they are “dedicated to funding global biomedical research into the causes, prevention, treatments, and cure for autism.” Bell’s goal is to eliminate autism; therefore I do not feel he would be concerned with improving the quality of life of people with intellectual disabilities. He would rather see the disability prevented, treated, “cured.”
Why not eliminate autism and other intellectual disabilities, right? I mean, all you hear from parents is how devastating and horrible it is to raise an autistic child. Wrong. There is an entire community of autistic adults, therapists, parents and educators that would rather we focus on their quality of life instead of figuring out a way to prevent them from being born. As a society, our goal should not be to destroy what we don’t understand–especially when it is a human life.
As you can see, there is much more work we need to do to change the conversation. The President, who loves to tout how much more pro-science he is compared to the GOP, needs to reconsider the appointment of Mr. Bell, and parents of autistic children and autistic adults should express their concerns to this Administration.