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Posts Tagged ‘Down Syndrome’

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Recently Richard Dawkins created a stir with some thoughtless tweets about aborting people with Down Syndrome, and Live Action has a column about the motives of some who abort their babies with Down Syndrome. With respect to author Sarah Terzo, it is an untempered treatment of deep complexities not at all explicated in the article, nor even hinted at. In the interest of truth and justice for many post-abortive mothers, here is a deeper exploration. It comes by way of my own experiences as the father of a special needs child.

When Regina became pregnant with Joseph (our first) it was pure magic. This child we feared might never be conceived after four years of prayers and disappointments, our first baby, was on the way. Early on we were offered the AFP, which tests for fetal anomalies and has many false-positive results.

We refused.

Why chance a positive result which would require amniocentesis to confirm, especially when amniocentesis kills one in every two hundred babies on which it is performed? There was no way that we would abort our baby, no matter what. “Besides,” I added to our bewildered Ob, “If God has X number of handicapped babies He needs to send into the world, we’ll take one. Children with needs require more love, not less.”

I never really thought He would take me up on that little bit of bravado.

It just didn’t make sense to have tests, to eat our hearts out if there were some potential anomaly that couldn’t be fixed. (Fetal surgery was just getting going at the time.)

Freeze frame. That’s an incredibly vulnerable time in every way for a woman. Physically she is immunocompromised, and increasingly uncomfortable toward the end. There’s the exhaustion of the first and third trimesters. There’s all sorts of concerns. At precisely the moment that a woman needs all the support she can get, when standing by her means everything for the father, for family and friends, she is hit with a devastating diagnosis.

Joseph was turning five when after years of misdiagnoses he was finally correctly diagnosed by some of the best minds in the field:

Autism, moderately profound.
ADHD
Mixed Expressive/Receptive Language Disorder (half of all tests he didn’t respond enough to establish a basal score)
Speech equivalent of 2.1 years
IQ tests: half very low average, half borderline.
Static Encephalopathy.
Cerebellar Defect.
Sensory Integration Disorder.

Shattering doesn’t begin to describe the pitch blackness I found myself in. It was a blackness so black that I couldn’t even see my wife’s pain and bewilderment. The upshot of it all was “What happens to Joseph when we’re gone?”

For the first time in my life I knew not only fear, but panic. So, I can relate to the parents who get the news when their baby is still in utero, when they are in a far more vulnerable state than we were. They also have an additional burden that I didn’t. I had Joseph for nearly five years. We had developed a relationship: I fed, bathed, changed, played with him. I dressed him, and took him everywhere I went. These parents know their child less concretely, more abstractly.

No one suggested that Regina and I kill our child. But it isn’t that way with poor prenatal diagnoses. I’ve met scores of women who were beset by the medical geneticists and their Ob’s to abort the baby. Far too many have recounted how they were burdened with blame:

“What do you mean you want to keep it? Why would you make your baby suffer that way?”

Lovely. Were that not bad enough, such news often comes when women have only one or two weeks left before they can no longer have an abortion (Statutory regulation).

Worse still are the fathers who pressure the mothers to abort, threatening financial, emotional and physical abandonment. “You’ll raise that freak on your own!” What a betrayal of trust and love, of all those little promises whispered when making love and begetting the baby.

More tragic still is the pressure from family and friends, and all too often, there stands the frightened, unsupported and completely besieged mother at precisely her most vulnerable moment.

So much for respecting women, for love and fidelity, for choice, for patient autonomy, for informed consent: Especially informed consent.

Parents are frequently not told of the surgeries, the therapies (medical, occupational, physical, speech, educational) that are available. They aren’t told of the Early Intervention program, of the advances made by those with Down Syndrome, of how many are now attending and graduating from college.

In other words, they are deprived of hope.

Comments made when they show up at an abortion center need to be evaluated in that light. In psychology the comments quoted by Terzo can be a good example of the defense mechanism called, “Reaction Formation,” which is the tendency to express the opposite of what one is feeling and threatened by, but cannot face.

So, how do we proceed?

Three years ago when I was National Director of Medical Students for Life, I approached some like-minded folks and with them brought to fruition a medical conference I had long envisioned as a means of enlightening the medical community. So, on January 21, 2012 at Family Research Council headquarters in Washington, DC, we held the first conference on Poor Prenatal Diagnoses and Therapeutic Interventions. It was live-cast and recorded and the entire conference can be viewed here. There will be more such conferences in the near future.

The purpose of the conference was to enlighten not only the medical community, but the rest of society; to give hope to those whose fear begets some of the ugly quotes in the Terzo article.

Regina and I were blessed with many beautiful and wonderful people who came into our lives and helped teach Joseph, most especially Mr. Robert Marinello who is one of the finest and most gifted speech therapists in the field. He got Joseph communicating in very short order, and gave me back my son. In the eleven years since we received the shattering diagnoses, Joseph has come into his own. He is poised to become an Eagle Scout in October at the age of fifteen, scored in the 98th percentile on his end of year testing this year, and is an accomplished athlete and dancer.

It took years, several years, to relax and trust that all would be well, to realize:

That God’s definition of well is not my own.

That God’s plans and dreams for Joseph are quite different from what I had envisioned when Regina gave birth.

That God was right beside me all of those sleepless nights I sat in the rocking chair beside Joseph’s bed, contemplating his future.

That God has an army of healers who do as a matter of routine what required the laying on of hands by Jesus two thousand years ago.

That God will use our fear and turn it into sacrificial love’s engine.

That God will then use special parents as the evangelists of this Gospel of Love.

In retrospect, what most made for the experience of being shattered was the fear of a loveless world and what it would do to our son. But God is faithful and He has shown us through our son an army of people who offer love, and hope, and opportunity.

Joseph is in good company among his peers with his particular style of learning and being in the world. The many therapists and professionals with whom he has worked have brought him and his peers not only into the realm of functionality, but of competitiveness with peers who are neurotypical. The same may be said of those with Down Syndrome.

News reports of parents seeking abortions for their special needs babies rightly anger and disgust us, but they don’t accurately portray all who receive these diagnoses. They also don’t delve into that pitch blackness in which I found myself, and in which these parents find themselves. The difference between us?

In my heart I knew that God would be faithful and what I was despairing of most of all was my own sense of smallness and inadequacy regarding the task before me. It was God’s fidelity as my father that empowered me.

I don’t judge these people quoted by Terzo. I agonize for them in their helplessness and hopelessness.

Take some time and watch the entire conference linked here. Then share this good news far and wide.

For many, all they need is the light of truth to begin to embrace their babies, to embrace their parenthood.

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08_20aTrisomy21Karyotype-L

 

Recently, noted philosopher Richard Dawkins made ripples across the pond when he tweeted regarding babies in utero diagnosed with Down Syndrome:

Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice.

While one doesn’t flinch at the suggestion of abortion coming from Dawkins, that’s an interesting invocation of morality coming from the celebrated atheist. Immoral based on what? Perhaps an Enlightenment rationale rooted in utilitarianism? Dawkins seems to suggest as much in another tweet when he writes of people on the autism spectrum juxtaposed with people who have Trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome):

People on that spectrum have a great deal to contribute, Maybe even an enhanced ability in some respects. DS not enhanced.

Actually, he might have that reversed in some respects. People with Down Syndrome tend to be the most happy and loving individuals on the planet. Their smiles, their affection are effusive, while whole swaths on the autism spectrum are noted for their lack of empathy and demonstrable affections. In this it is a safe bet to say that those with Down Syndrome are affectively enhanced. And what of using an Enlightenment approach to utilitarianism?

Dawkins and his ilk live outside of the Enlightenment, and even in reading the great authors of that several hundred year period, he seems to have missed the point of the movement entirely.

Thomas Jefferson lived in the Enlightenment, and apart from his own personal glaring contradictions, seems to have grasped its meaning rather well. This is not only evident in the Declaration of Independence, but also in a letter to his daughter, Patsy, where his Enlightenment utilitarianism shows all the humanity and warmth absent in Dawkins’ ice cold bastardization of that era. Jefferson writes:

Every human being must be viewed according to what it is good for; for none of us, no, not one, is perfect; and were we to love none who had imperfections, this world would be a desert for our love.

And there it is, the raison d’être of us all. We are here to love, to send out our love to be attached to another. Love, not in the romantic sense, but in the daily, self-sacrificial sense.

…and were we to love none who had imperfections, this world would be a desert for our love.

Dawkins’ morality is as arid as the loveless soil in which it is rooted. Judeo-Christian morality derives its life, its sustenance from the love in which it is rooted; Jefferson’s love, which has imperfect humanity as its object.

Jefferson’s utilitarianism sees the sender as imperfect, as well as the receiver. If one were to sit with Jefferson over a bottle of Madeira, he might well expound upon this advice to Patsy. He might well describe that it is the very imperfection of the recipient which requires our love, and in which our love takes root. He might well explain that our love cannot complete or complement in another those elements in the other which have already attained perfection, but rather, complement and complete the imperfections in the other.

Indeed, Jefferson might well have admonished that our perfection requires having a place to send our sacrificial love, a place where there is need of our love, a place where we find the healing of our own imperfection as humans by sacrificing for another.

One can scarce envision a population more given to unconditional love than the Down Syndrome community. Those such as Dawkins, who reject the very idea that there is a God who is love itself, who advocate the slaughter of babies for want of something that approximates normal function, are those most in need of love themselves. There is something in them that was frustrated along the way, perhaps the perception that their love was not welcome in those to whom it should have flowed, and from whom they should have received that love which could have completed what was lacking in them.

It is a frustration that has turned into a deadly philosophical rage, a world and worldview that has become a desert for Dawkins’ love.

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caduceus

This letter is addressed to every physician, scientist, and genetic counselor who believes in a eugenic agenda that targets the unborn specifically because of diagnosed genetic anomalies. It asks a series of penetrating questions that invite thoughtful response, and are not meant to be rhetorical.

The first question is: WHO?

Who taught you in medical school or graduate school that we doctors of science and medicine are the custodians of the human gene pool? Who was it that told you it was your job to keep that pool “clean?” They are serious questions, as I never encountered this philosophy, let alone mandate, in my premed studies at Columbia University, grad studies at St. John’s University, or post-doctoral studies at the City University of New York. Neither in the Ivies, Catholic, or Public universities did I ever encounter this mandate that has seized hold in our hospitals. Whence comes this thinking?

In my undergraduate studies in the 70’s and 80’s liberal arts professors taught extensively about the corruption of the Third Reich, and the eugenic agenda in Hitler’s camps. What we were never taught was that this agenda predated Hitler and arose within the medical community of the 1920’s in Germany. Regardless, the properly educated man or woman in American universities in the 70’s and 80’s was taught that eugenics was repugnant, Master Race and all of that stuff… It leads to the next question:

HOW?

How have we progressed from that understanding to where we are today? How is it that we have come to view genetic anomalies as so terrifyingly painful that those who bear them are deemed “incompatible with life,” which is strikingly similar to Hitler’s, “Life unworthy of Life?” On what basis do you make such an assessment, especially in the case of Down Syndrome? Is this rooted in firsthand clinical experience? It can’t be, as these children and adults are some of the most beautiful and happy individuals among us. How is it that we celebrate “diversity’ with near-fanaticism in society while we shoot for genetic homogeneity with similar near-fanaticism? That of course leads to the question:

WHAT?

What is it that you believe you have been entrusted with that leads to this neo-eugenics? When I went to graduate school, we were entrusted with great knowledge of biology across the spectrum of life, and in my course of studies, great knowledge of human and microbial physiology. We were entrusted with the knowledge and training in molecular biology, techniques so powerful that they have equal ability to destroy life on earth as well as advance the cause for life on earth. What we did not receive enough of was training in ethics, and not the sort of algorithm flow chart-based policy crap devoid of any training in metaphysics and human anthropology. I received all of that in undergrad, thank God. It was expected of us that we would use this great knowledge and power only for good, but therein lies the problem.

How do we define the good? Who defines the good? What is the good?

It’s easy for those of us who were obviously born with all of the genetic capability to earn doctorates to look down upon the disenfranchised with disdain. It comes from an insecurity within that says, “I can’t imagine living like that,” which is precisely the soil in which a eugenic mentality takes root. A little guilt added in to spice up the toxic brew, and here we are. But ask yourself this question.

If you rise above the genetics and epigenetics and consider the quality of life to which you appeal in your headlong pursuit of stamping out the unfit, what training do you have in anthropology, psychology, sociology, comparative religion, transcultural psychology, aesthetics, philosophy? How well did you apply yourself to these studies when you were in pre-med, or were these the B.S. courses you needed to endure on the way to medical or graduate school?

I would submit that most physicians and scientists I have met who are pro-choice are severely deficient in these areas, and as such cannot render an informed opinion as regards quality of life, and only speak from their very narrow and cramped worldview.

The new colonialism.

Of course, this all begs the further question:

When?

When was it that we stopped looking for cures and enhanced therapies, and started taking the cheap way out? When did death and non-existence become the answer, rather than healing and wholeness? When did we receive a mandate to kill every baby we could in order to aid the patient in avoidance of suffering?

I would submit that the answers reside in the radicalization of the liberal arts over the past thirty years, and in the watering down of the college curriculum in that time. It’s a formation issue, from my perspective, one that has left many of our finest and brightest physicians and scientists impoverished and without the necessary spiritual and intellectual protections against the power of our biotechnology to twist and distort its practitioners.

Do you disagree?

I’m open to feedback and answers to the questions

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My article in today’s HeadlineBistro.

Yahoo News recently carried a story that reports from the proceedings of the annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) in Stockholm, where a recent study was discussed linking in vitro fertilization (IVF) with an increased incidence in Down Syndrome.

The language in the story is a mess, and care must be taken to vet the verbal engineering contained therein so that the true moral and bioethical implications may be brought into sharp relief. The story may be read here.

First, a summation of the science involved. Investigators analyzed the DNA strands (chromosomes) produced by the divisions of human eggs and counted the chromosome numbers using a new technique (Array Comparative Genomic Hybridisation.) that is highly sensitive to not only differences in chromosome numbers, but also changes in the size and composition of the chromosomes.

Now, just a tiny bit of biology before the analysis.

Recall that all of the instructions for making a human body are contained within the DNA, and a normal human has 46 DNA chromosomes. There are 23 pairs of these chromosomes. One member of each pair comes from the sperm cell and one member of each pair from the egg cell. In persons with Down syndrome, there is an extra copy of the twenty-first chromosome. For this reason, we describe the three copies of chromosome #21 as “Trisomy 21.”

During the development of the egg, or ovum, the chromosomes are replicated, so that there is twice the normal number. It isn’t important to get into all of the why’s here. Suffice it to say that before a sperm cell can successfully fertilize the egg, the egg must jettison its extra copies of the chromosomes, leaving one member of each pair to pair with their partner from the sperm. The jettisoned chromosomes are contained in little pods called “polar bodies.”

The study in question analyzed the number of chromosomes in the polar bodies to determine how successfully the DNA divided in the eggs. This was done after the fertilization of the eggs by the sperm. If all went according to plan, there should have been the same number of chromosomes in the polar bodies as in the eggs. If not, then unequal division is responsible.

To make a long story short, in a study of 34 women’s (average age of 40) polar bodies it was found that there was a significant incidence of chromosomal abnormality. It is being hypothesized that the powerful hormones given to women in order to stimulate release of several eggs may very well loosen the molecular glue that holds chromosome pairs together prior to cell division, and that is the factor responsible for the unequal distribution of chromosomes.

Now for the verbal engineering.

“After IVF hormone stimulation, fertilised eggs bore patterns of chromosome abnormalities that were quite distinct from abnormalities in eggs that had been harvested naturally,” said Alan Handyside, the research team’s leader.

The article continues:

The new test helps pinpoint healthy eggs and damaged eggs, enabling doctors to advise a woman whether it is worth the emotional and financial investment to try for a pregnancy, said Handyside.

… “But for another group we will be able to say, ‘actually it’s good news, only about half of your eggs were abnormal, so you have a good likelihood of getting pregnant.’ And at the same time we can screen and reduce the possibility of having a Down’s child.”

First, it should be noted that the popular literature is saturated with the term, “fertilized eggs.” This is another dehumanizing and developmentally misleading term. The truth is that there is no such thing as a fertilized egg, unless one is willing to claim that there are over 6 billion fertilized human eggs walking the planet today. The truth is that the act of fertilization brings about an immediate end to the sperm and egg cells as such, and causes a human embryo to come into existence. The human embryo in its single-celled stage is called a zygote, not a “fertilized egg.”

Next, note how the clinician will approach the woman in the third quote. Note how the woman will be told that half of her eggs were abnormal. This can only be ascertained by analyzing the polar bodies, which are jettisoned AFTER fertilization. Thus, what is being said is that half of the woman’s offspring are headed for the trash can in the lab. These aren’t defective eggs. These are handicapped humans in their earliest stages of development.

Welcome to Twenty-first Century eugenics, the intolerance of imperfection in other human beings. In fairness to the parents undergoing IVF, nobody aspires to conceiving children who will be handicapped. It certainly wasn’t the aspiration my wife and I shared nineteen years ago when we married. However, God saw fit to permit us the privilege of having a son with autism, and our lives were forever changed for the better in the process.

We’ve learned an invaluable lesson raising Joseph. He has no imperfections, only additional needs. His additional needs have placed demands on us that have uncovered every selfish and self-centered appetite in us and challenged us to grow. In a narcissistic and hedonistic culture such as ours, such demands are intolerable to most, and those making them are being dispatched with increasing ruthlessness and efficiency.

The eugenics of the early Twentieth Century did not begin with Hitler’s Third Reich. It began decades before in the medical community. At the culmination in 1945 of those terrible events the world vowed, “Never again!”

It is a distant echo that is ringing increasingly hollow.

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From my friend, Tina Mahar, who daily teaches me the power of humility through her blog and FB page:

“In the fictional novel, The Clowns of God, by Morris West, Jesus comes back to earth, and some people think it’s Him while some don’t. At one point, Jesus is at a school for children with Down syndrome, and He is holding a little girl. Jesus says:

‘I know what you are thinking. You need a sign. What better one could I give but to make this little one whole and new? I could do it, but I will not. I am the Lord and not a conjurer. I gave this mite a gift I denied to all of you — eternal innocence. To you she looks imperfect — but to me she is flawless, like the bud that dies unopened or the fledgling that falls from the nest to be devoured by ants. She will never offend me, as all of you have done. She will never pervert or destroy the work of my Father’s hands. She is necessary to you. She will evoke the kindness that will keep you human. Her infirmity will prompt you to gratitude for your own good fortune … More! She will remind you every day that I am who I am, that my ways are not yours, and that the smallest dust mite whirled in the darkest spaces does not fall out of my hand … I have chosen you.

You have not chosen me.

This little one is my sign to you.

Treasure her!’ “

— Kurt Kondrich (father of a beautiful daughter who has Down syndrome)

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We have come a long way together since the diagnoses of autism, ADHD, static encephalopathy, cerebellar deficit, and mixed expressive/receptive language disorder seven years ago. Just shy of Joseph’s fifth birthday we finally got the proper diagnoses, which were nothing less than shattering to my wife and me.

All we had to cling to was our faith and one another.

But after adapting the very rhythm of our lives to Joseph’s needs he has progressed beautifully, and tonight at age eleven he became a Boy Scout. He decided to join the troop of a friend from sports. Per usual, with new steps up socially I was anxious that the experience be a positive one. Not quite sure how Joseph would respond to the boys, or the boys to Joseph, we entered the hall.

The older scouts working on their last and highest rank, Eagle Scout, immediately brought Joseph before the troop and had him introduce himself. The boys (some 30-strong) gave a hearty “hi”, and immediately pulled him into the activities of the night. I sat and watched as they showed him the scout sign, scout salute, scout handshake, knot tying exercises, scout oath, scout law, etc. They were the embodiment of the goodness, decency, and leadership that are the hallmarks and endpoints of the scouting program; just as it was when I was a scout, only these boys were better.

None of the boys know about Joseph. From the goodness and warmth they lavished on him tonight, I doubt that they could have been any different had they known. These aren’t just any boys. These are scouts. These are boys who submit themselves to discipline and the commitment of citizenship and leadership. They are a breed apart, and always have been. Many will become our next generation of military officers, astronauts, business leaders and clergy.

And while all of this was happening tonight, there were parents elsewhere wrestling with prenatal diagnoses of Down syndrome, still others who have not yet conceived the autistic child that will one day be prenatally diagnosed. I understand their despair. I’ve lived it. I’ve been consumed by it. It has tested my faith in God’s love, in humanity’s decency. “What happens when I’m gone?” and a host of other questions…

But all along the way we have encountered nothing but goodness and kindness, decency and love, acceptance and words of encouragement from people. None of my worst fears, or even my mildest fears have materialized. Quite the opposite. People are so very accepting of the Josephs today. This is NOT my parent’s generation. This tsunami of autistic children has brought right behind it a tsunami of love and patient forbearance in society. Everyone knows someone with autism. Speech and occupational therapists, special education teachers work miracles daily as a matter of routine. Down syndrome kids benefit every bit as much from these modern miracles at overcoming neurological defect.

We live in a golden age. With so much hope, so much healing, so much acceptance, there is truly little to fear. The only caveat is the pro-abortion nihilists whose black hearts lead them to manipulate parents’ worst fears when they receive the results of genetic testing. They’ll never tell Joseph’s story, which is the story of thousands and thousands of autistic spectrum children and Down syndrome children today. We must do so, and so I am today.

When we left the meeting, I wondered if the boys sensed a difference in Joseph who just seems a bit shy now. If they did, it didn’t matter. These are, after all, Boy Scouts, and they live their oath and their scout law. These boys stood tall as men tonight in the way they welcomed and embraced a new kid, and they’ll never know how high they made a father’s heart soar as he saw his special son embarking on his training in honorable manhood as just one of the guys. With such mentors and guides outside of the immediate family, how can Joseph do anything but succeed?

And that is the good news, the message of hope that we need to trumpet in our witness to life.

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Prophets are usually derided as madmen, and I’m sure that I’ll come in for a pounding on this one in some quarters. Research into the etiology autism’s explosion is accelerating. Molecular biologists are looking for genetic markers that can explain what’s at the root of this dilemma. Having written on this before (see here), I stated that God is giving us a second chance at getting it right after what we have done with Down Syndrome babies, 93% of whom are aborted.

The numbers don’t look good for autism, and an abortion holocaust is brewing for them as well, one that is going to dwarf the Down Syndrome holocaust in comparison. The numbers are staggering. Consider first the graph below showing the rise in autism since 1992 (fightingautism.org).Click on the image to enlarge.
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Facts and Stats (From the Autism Society of America)

1 percent of the population of children in the U.S. ages 3-17 have an autism spectrum disorder.1
Prevalence is estimated at 1 in 110 births.2
1 to 1.5 million Americans live with an autism spectrum disorder.3
Fastest-growing developmental disability; 1,148% growth rate.4
10 – 17 % annual growth.5
$60 billion annual cost.6
60% of costs are in adult services.7
Cost of lifelong care can be reduced by 2/3 with early diagnosis and intervention.8
In 10 years, the annual cost will be $200-400 billion.9
1 percent of the adult population of the United Kingdom have an autism spectrum disorder.10
The cost of autism over the lifespan is 3.2 million dollars per person.11
2003, 2006 Copyright the Autism Society. All rights reserved.
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1. Pediatrics, October 5, 2009, based on a National Children’s Health Survey done with 78,000 parents in 2007.
2. “Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders – Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, United States, 2006.” Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Morbitity and Mortality Weekly Report, 18 December 2009.
3. Based on the autism prevalence rate of 1 in 150 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2007) and 2000 U.S. Census figure of 280 million Americans.
4. “Autistic Spectrum Disorders: Changes in the California Caseload, An Update June 1987 June 20007.” Cavagnaro, Andre T., California Health and Human Services Agency. State of California 2003 survey of developmental disabilities.
5. Autism Society estimate based on 2003 US state educational data.
6. Autism Society estimates based on UK study by Jarbrink K, Knapp M, 2001, London School of Economics: “The economic impact on autism in Britain,” 5 (1): 7-22.
7. Autism Society estimate.
8. Autism Society estimate, using Government Accounting Office Report on Autism 2007.
9. Autism Society estimate.
10. Autism Spectrum Disorders in adults living in households throughout England,” Report from the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2007, a survey carried out for the United Kingdom NHS Information Centre for health and social care.
11. Arch Pediatric Adolesc Med. 2007;161:343-34.

Focus on the current and projected costs. We simply can not afford $400 BILLION per year. We’re drowning now at $60 BILLION per year in costs. The money simply is not there now, let alone seven times that number within a decade. School systems are groaning under the financial weight of providing the services necessary to rescue these children from the most devastating dimensions of this insidious disorder in communication and social skills. Property taxes, which support the school systems, are spiraling upward beyond most people’s limits.

Something has to give.

Prediction: Within ten years we will have some reliable genetic markers identified. With genetic markers comes genetic testing. With genetic testing comes abortion. Imagine adding to the current rate of abortion 1 out of every 110 children born today. 1 out of every 70 boys.

This isn’t a matter of “IF”. This is simply a matter of “WHEN”.

We are not helpless here. We can do something about this, as much has changed since society started the genocide against Down Syndrome babies. Thirty years ago, there was still a large stigma attached to mental retardation, and not much advancement in the treatment and education of those with Down Syndrome and Cerebral Palsy. Combined with a paucity of services, the horrors that emerged from investigative reports of institutions housing these people certainly exacerbated the feelings of helplessness, dread, and guilt in the parents of these children and young adults.

Just as feelings of helplessness and hopelessness are the cardinal symptoms of suicide, these are the same forces behind abortion.

Great strides have been made in treating autism. Joseph was diagnosed with autism at age five with an age equivalent of 2.1 years in speech. The IQ tests were catastrophic. That was seven years ago. Today, after intense therapy (which includes a home environment where the therapy has become a part of the household’s fabric) Joseph presents as a somewhat shy and awkward child who is at or above average intellectually and academically, with vastly improved and ever-improving verbal and social skills.

It’s been a long, but love-filled road toward making Joseph a functional member of society.

However parents of all special needs children, not just autistic children, are seeing desperately needed resources dry up in many school districts as the numbers climb into the stratosphere. We need to change the entire paradigm by which we get our children treated. We have less than ten years to get this paradigm in place before genetic markers and genetic testing come online. The key is to have our houses of worship become the nucleus for services, for mentoring of parents with newly diagnosed children by more seasoned parents, for pro-bono parent workshops given by lawyers and therapists.

The clock is ticking. We need to get a whole new reality in place, and quickly. We need to have the alternative up and working well before the genetics catches up with us.

In Part II, the blueprint for an easily workable, sustainable, and authentically pro-life program.

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