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Autism Coach

Speech by Congressman Dan Burton


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Congressman Dan Burton of Indiana is one of the foremost champions of autistic causes in Congress.  Here is an excerpt from a speech Congressman Burton made before the House of Representatives in April, 2002:

. . .  the reason I’m here on the floor tonight is because I received thousands of letters from parents of children who are autistic. . . And these parents believe and I believe after having hearings for the past four years that their children, many, many of their children have been damaged by the mercury that was in children's vaccines.

We have been putting mercury from a product called Thimerosal in children's vaccine since the 1930's. And now that we're giving children 25 to 30 vaccinations before they start into kindergarten, you have a tremendous amount of injury being built up in their systems. Mercury has a cumulative effectin the brain. So when you're giving a child one shot, it might not have been so bad. Obviously, you don't want mercury in their system, but it wasn't giving damage. But when you give a child 30 shots before they start into kindergarten, many, many ofthose children are going to have brain damage and neurological problems such as autism.

And I have received, as I said, letters from thousands of parents of autistic children and I’ve been coming down here showing pictures of these children and reading these letters because thepharmaceutical companies and the Congress of the United States have a responsibility to those families who are suffering financially and mentally from the terrible trauma of autism their children are going through. It used to be one in 10,000 children were autistic. Now it's one in 200.We’ve had a 50-fold increase in autism in the last 15 years. It’s absolutely an epidemic and something has to be done about it.

We’ve been debating how to handle it in the Congress of the United States.Every child who's damaged by vaccines should have access to the vaccine injury compensation fund. But many, many of these children and their families who are autistic have not had access to this fund and that's why this debate rages on. In other body, we've had somereal problems, and that's why we're trying to bring to the attention of the other body, the leader of that other body, as well as other members of congress how deep this problem is and how important it is to the people of this country that we don't get it solved. I don't have time to read a lot of letters here tonight.

But I want to read part of one letter I received. It’s many, many pages from a man named James W. Call. I see James is from Hanover, Pennsylvania. And he had a son -- what's his name here?-- Jacob, who became autistic. And he says in his letter Jacob is 5. There’s no doubt in my mind that my son, Jacob, has Thimerosal-induced autism.

Now why does he say that? Well, he says it for the same reason that I said that about my grandson. My grandson was a very normal child, as Jacob probably was. And he was speaking and he was laughing and he was a lot of fun to be around. And . . . he actually got nine shots in one day, seven of which had mercury.  Two days later he was banging his head against the wall, flapping his arms, had chronic diarrhea and constipation at the same time and we lost him. He wouldn't talk to us. He became incommunicado.

And that's happening to thousands of parents across this country. They’re mortgaging their homes. They’re selling everything they have to take care of their children. They didn't realize they have access to the vaccine injury compensation fund until the three-year statute oflimitations ran out. And we need to reopen that fund so every person who has an autistic child has a day in court, if you will, to make their case before the fund to get money to help their child and help their family. There’s $1.8 billion in that fund.

We protected the pharmaceutical companies by allowing them to put so much money in the fund so that they wouldn't be sued when people are damaged by vaccines. And so the people who have been damaged by vaccines ought to have access to that fund. It should be non-adversarial. It’s adversarial right now.They’ve been keeping people out. They’ve been keeping children out. And damaged children have been suffering, their families have been suffering and they have nowhere to turn.

And so that's why every night I come down here and show pictures. These are called the faces of autism.We have thousands of these children. I have probably 50 or 60 here. Here’s a new one we have. And it says on this vaccines stole my health, childhood, and future. Don’t steal my rights. And I think that's very important. We shouldn't steal this child's rights or any child's rights.They should have access to the vaccine injury compensation fund. They should have access to an education.

And if we don't deal with it now, if we don't deal with these children now, they're going to grow up -- they have an average life expectancy. And if they can't cope with society and we don't deal with them now, we're going to pay 10, 20, 30 times more to take care of them when they are adults and they can't make a living and they can't function in our society. So it's absolutely imperative.

And I say this to my colleagues in other body and my colleagues here, we need to passlegislation this year that will give these people access to the vaccine injury compensation fund so that they will have somewhere to turn and they won't be left high and dry.