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What Would Rick Santorum Do For Autism? (video)

What Would Rick Santorum Do For Autism? (video)

Before last night’s vote, 9-year-old Sam Wessels asked each of the five Republican candidates what they would do to help children with learning disabilities including autism. In  each of five YouTube videos, Sam describes himself as on the autism spectrum.

As ABC News notes, Sam and his mother, Lynn Wessels, started their political advocacy in July, with Sam speaking to former presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty. His “mission” has been to meet all the Republican candidates; the only ones he has not spoken to are Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman. Lyn Wessels also says they would be glad to speak to President Barack Obama, but “they have not had the opportunity.”

The candidates’ responses seem, for the most part, in keeping with their political platforms, as summarized by ABC News:

Ron Paul said providing more individual liberty, and less government intervention, would solve the problem. Mitt Romney blamed Capitol Hill’s playing politics for shortchanging science, but he reassured the crowd that that didn’t mean he would increase spending and handouts. Santorum advocated putting education in the hands of the states and out of the federal government. Newt Gingrich heaped praise on Wessels but somewhat skirted the question, saying that science would find the answer without saying how. Michele Bachmann said the country needs to reform spending to make more resources available for helping children like Sam.

Sam wears a Rick Santorum button when speaking to the candidate. While a senator from Pennsylvania, Santorum helped to sponsor the Combating Autism Act (CAA), which was passed in August of 2006 and allocated $950 million in spending over five years on for research about autism, screening and diagnosis and education and treatment. On September 30, President Barack Obama signed H.R. 2005, “The Combating Autism Reauthorization Act,” ensuring that crucial programs for autism early detection, surveillance, research, education, awareness and treatment will receive funding for three more years. In particular, the CAA called for early childhood education in the form of early intervention of young children, after screening and diagnosis of, again, young children: Early intervention is broadly supported as extremely important for autistic children, among parents, teachers, therapists, doctors and other medical professionals.

Santorum, despite his sponsorship of the CAA, has said that he opposes early-childhood education programs because they are our government’s attempt to “indoctrinate your children” and “it is a parent’s responsibility to educate their children.”  In other words, his solution for helping children with learning disabilities including autism is to do away with  something — educational programs for young children — that help autistic children and that is a central part of a landmark bill he himself supported.

In his video, Sam had asked Santorum:

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that one in five American children has a learning disability today. Mine is autism. What is happening to America’s most precious resource, her children? And what do you plan to do about it? Thank you.”

It seems that what Santorum really plans to do for autistic children is not what actually helps them.

 

Related Care2 Coverage

Morning Mix: Can We Talk About the Caucus?

Santorum Opposes Early Childhood Education

Two Important Autism Bills Signed Into Law

 

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Photo by Gage Skidmore

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28 comments

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11:19AM PST on Feb 27, 2012

The more I read about Santorum, the more I think he belongs in an asylum, not on the Campaign trail.

7:41AM PST on Feb 27, 2012

What if Santorum is autistic himself? :-(

12:24PM PST on Feb 26, 2012

For those wondering what Obama has done for Autism, the list is rather extensive and can be read here. http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/disabilities

For those claiming he has done nothing (except to help "pump Mercury through our kids"), perhaps you should do some research before spouting off. Furthermore, the type of mercury used in some vaccines is not the type that harmfully accumulates in the body. Scientists are still studying vaccines to examine risks for causing harm, but currently no link to autism has been found and all previously proposed links disproved.
http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/Concerns/Autism/Index.html
http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/Concerns/thimerosal/thimerosal_faqs.html

8:31PM PST on Jan 8, 2012

This is the shallow approach we can expect when it comes to examining reasons to go to war with any given nation? God Bless

10:45AM PST on Jan 6, 2012

put them in prison?

9:39PM PST on Jan 5, 2012

He only knows what to do with dead babies.......he brings them home to play with. His own kid is a retard.....she should actually be in an institution.

5:32PM PST on Jan 5, 2012

Kill heath care for it, of course.

10:55AM PST on Jan 5, 2012

Like Sam, who put on his headphones at about 2:30, I couldn't listen to Santorum's non-answer. At least Romney was breif in his brush-off non answer. But it was Bachman's petting him that really upset me: she clearly knows nothing about autism or any autistic folks. (Many autists do no like to be touched.)

10:50AM PST on Jan 5, 2012

What would he do for autism? Make autism victims look normal.

9:52AM PST on Jan 5, 2012

A country's greatness depends on the vision of her leaders and their ability to unite the citizens behind great ideas. An educated citizenry is necessary for a successful democracy - our founders knew it - yet these attempts to dismantle the public education system in our country are ongoing. Most of us were educated in public schools - most can't afford to stay home and home-school or send children to private schools. Public schools produced some of the most creative scientists, doctors, engineers, artists and thinkers the world has ever known - and we've all benefited from their discoveries and their education. In my lifetime, Polio has been nearly erradicated, as has measles, small pox, and many other diseases that were ubiquitous in the 19th and early 20th century. The space program taught us tons about the universe and provided spin-offs that have enhanced everyone's life - including the computer your are currently typing from and the internet that carries your message. Do public schools need some serious attention, more realistic budgets, equipment, teachers? Resoundingly YES. Should the baby be thrown out with the bathwater - of course not.

BTW - neither candidate even attempted to respond to Sam. They had no answers for him.

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