Opinion: Trump’s autism bill is a good start, but won’t solve all obstacles

Societal awareness is also necessary to improve the lives of people with the disorder.


Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS

President Donald Trump makes a statement announcing that a deal has been reached to reopen the government through Feb. 15 during an event in the Rose Garden of the White House Jan. 25, 2019 in Washington, D.C.

Ally Pronina, Columnist

About 1 in 59 children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. President Trump recently signed the Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education, and Support Act, which contains $1.8 billion in funding to help those with autism and their caregivers. 

The research this is funding can answer many scientific inquiries about the disorder. Why, unlike other neurodevelopmental disorders, is autism a spectrum? How is it possible for people who have different personalities and levels of development to have it? These are just some of the questions funding for autism research might help answer.

This funding bill has the potential to better the lives of Americans on the spectrum by giving them more opportunities to meet others with autism, learn more about the neurodevelopmental disorder, and how to access services and resources. Autism-related support groups have support across the aisle. It can also provide services and resources to people on the spectrum and their family members.

People with disabilities are often overlooked in the political discussions about diversity and inclusion. No 2020 presidential candidate is proposing to make it illegal to pay someone with a disability below the minimum wage.

Even with the many controversies and political division surrounding the president, it is nice to see how people in politics do care about people living with disabilities. We need that for more bills like this, not just for autism but all types of disabilities.

This isn’t just a big deal in Washington; this bill is important to the University of Iowa campus and Iowa City.

Health professionals in Iowa City and on campus who work with people on the spectrum can learn more about the disorder they work with through new research. The findings the bill will fund can also lead departments at the UI that research and work with autism-psychiatry, psychology, and neuroscience to develop other research questions they might not have otherwise.

With the number of people diagnosed with autism, society needs to be aware of how to interact with someone on the spectrum. Autism is something that affects social skills, and since we have such a high chance of interacting with someone on the spectrum at least once in our lifetime, we should understand how it affects social interaction. (This is another research question the funds can answer).

People being more aware of autism can reduce situations like what happened in September in Tennessee. As reported by WTVC, a kindergartner, a kindergartner with autism hugged a classmate. His teacher called his mom and said her child didn’t properly respect personal space. If the classmate did not like the hug, the teacher should have nicely explained that to the student with autism. If the classmate was fine with it, I don’t see why the teacher wasn’t. If the teacher knew more about autism, she might have come up with a better reaction in this situation than punishing just for hugging.

Being aware of autism is an important part of being a more empathetic community member. It can open up your heart and mind if you know just one person with autism.



Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.