Beyond The Photo-Op: Bush Budget Leaves Autistic Children Behind

Jason McElwain aka “J-Mac” — the autistic high-school basketball player — gained national attention when he scored 20 points for his varsity team with a flurry of 3-pointers. While President Bush has publicly acknowledged his admiration for the young star, his FY07 budget shows an indifference towards autistic children:

– In his proposed budget for next year, Bush has cut all funding for the National Children’s Study, a project that planned to investigate the causes of autism, asthma, and other serious illnesses.

– The President’s budget will eliminate Medicaid reimbursements for schoolchildren with disabilities, denying them “access to medical services they need to fully participate in school and learn to their greatest abilities.”

– The number of children diagnosed with autism and served by schools under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) increased by more than 500 percent in the last decade, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The President’s FY07 budget, however, will fund IDEA at $6.3 billion below the amount Congress recommended.

Bush’s visit with J-Mac was a great photo-op. But the best way for Bush to show his support is by providing adequate funding for programs to help autistic children.

— Sam Davis