The Government and Autism: The Autism Omnibus Hearings

Reported by Kristina Cruise
September 19, 2007

With one in 150 children diagnosed with autism, why isn't more being done by the government to find out what's causing the increase?

In the third part of our week-long series on autism we find out the government is on board but not everyone is convinced.

Coy Barefoot says his son was a bright and interactive baby, but then something went terribly wrong. At 24 months, doctors diagnosed his son with autism. Barefoot believes mercury or other metals, perhaps from our environment or vaccines, may have played a role.

"Where is it coming from? It's a question that I wish our government was asking more strongly," shared Barefoot. 

In June 2007, the United States Court of Federal Claims began the Autism Omnibus Hearings. More than 4,800 parents have filed claims alleging vaccines caused their children's autism.

Lake Monticello's Kevin Good has two autistic sons; both are a part of the federal court case.

Good says, "It's been such a difficult process to get it to the point where it is now. It's been five years until they've finally had the first test case."

His sons, 10-year-old Robert and 6-year-old Richard, are both on the autism spectrum. Their twin sisters are not.

If this ongoing hearing in Washington determines there is an environment link related to vaccines, specifically the measles mumps and rubella vaccine or a mercury based thimerosal, it could have significant legal and public health implications that could help these children get the help they need.

"I am looking forward to the day when we can talk more about prevention than treatment," said Dr. Eric Rydland with Defeat Autism Now. "Autism should be a very rare condition."

The Centers for Disease Control maintains studies show there is no connection between thimerosal vaccines and autism. But Goode has spent six years researching those studies and says they are deeply flawed. He hopes this hearing in Washington will finally reveal what he calls the truth that can set his sons free.

"It's disheartening there are many people many organizations out there who think that we are attempting to gain some kind of financial reward. It has to do with helping our children become well," insisted Good.