Political season…the time when a few things grind to a halt as candidates compete fiercely with one another to gain or hang on to the very thing that millions lost in the recession: jobs. Autism is no stranger to the political realm, although debates have centered largely around the vaccination controversy. Not this time. Autism advocates and maternity groups were furious earlier this week, demanding an apology from Nevada GOP U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle. Endorsed by the Tea Party. A video surfaced in a rally last year where Angle argued against health care mandates in the state of Nevada, saying that “everything…is covered under autism.” The groups demanding an apology suggest Angle has extended those claims since, suggesting that families and individuals mislabel other symptoms as autism.
Personally speaking, I’m not one-sided, as I don’t believe one party with complete control of the presidency, House and Senate is always a good thing. Applying similar principles, Angle’s comments from the 2009 rally may not be totally misconstrued. Determining whether they were tact or appropriate is another matter and one I won’t discuss.
Angle’s claims are understandable when cross-examined with the specifics of autism, which are few and hard to find. While several biological tests are currently in the experimental stages, they remain years from widespread use and the condition is still diagnosed by behavioral observation, a process that many know by now isn’t foolproof. There are also a few scattered skeptics regarding who exactly is autistic, including kids who go on gluten-free diets and are supposedly cured, when medical experts, organizations and resources all suggest no cure is available. Autism’s range of severity is no secret either, with cases drawing parallels to the unique features of snowflakes. While no details are known about how many incorrect diagnoses are made, the possibility of one exists with current testing criteria.
Regarding the article, any juicy comments from politicians hit the web and news circuits faster than most people can read this sentence. The bulk of the story highlights a press event that appears to be little more than a rally. The speed of communication can be lethal if comments are made that are considered shocking enough to make the news, but this story barely makes it out of the Las Vegas area, and the video was posted by Angle’s political opponents from Nevada’s Democratic Party.
If shocking statements are made by a candidate, there’s a possibility that someone who works for the candidate’s opponent is behind the spark. The tactic is simply nature of political campaigns in the 21st century, and something news outlets will eat up if they see value.