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Clinton to Unveil Autism Plan, Remove Stigma on Mental Illness

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton takes questions as children raise their hands during a town hall style campaign event, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015, at South Church in Portsmouth, N.H. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton takes questions as children raise their hands during a town hall style campaign event, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015, at South Church in Portsmouth, N.H. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Washington, Dec. 31 – Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton announced she will be unveiling an autism plan, making her the first candidate to do so.

“I’m actually rolling out a plan about autism in about a week, where I talk about all the different things that we need to do to try to support families and people who are diagnosed as on the autism spectrum,” Clinton said Tuesday in Portsmouth, NH.

When a young boy, whose dad works with people with developmental disabilities and has an uncle with autism, asked the former Secretary of State how she would help people with disabilities, she talked about her work with the Children’s Defense Fund.

“I was very proud when the United States became the first nation in the world to open schools to people with disabilities,” Clinton said, going back to her stock answer when asked any question about disabilities. She talked about finding “blind kids, kids in wheelchairs, and kids with behavioral problems” and working to ensure they could go to school.

She then touted the Americans with Disabilities Act, to great applause, before saying more work needs to be done.

“Now we have to do more to make sure that we provide supportive housing, that we support families,” Clinton continued. “The biggest concern that people tell me about when they children with disabilities, and particularly with autism, is what happens when they’re no longer there to take care of their children.”

Nearly everyone in the audience raised their hand when Clinton asked how many people knew someone with autism. The Centers for Disease Control that shows that one out of every 68 children have some feature that places them on spectrum for autism disorders.

While many organizations focus on how to help children with autism, there is less attention paid to what happens when children with autism grow up to become adults with autism. In order for Clinton’s autism plan to be inclusive, it needs to not only focus on children with autism but also young adults, who are seeking entry into the workforce and independence, as well as adults who may need assistance after their parents are no longer able to help them.

When she unveils her new plan in January, Clinton said she will talk about new opportunities for people with disabilities “so that they can go as far as their talent, their hard work, their skills will take them.”

At the same town hall, Clinton also talked about the need to remove the stigma from mental illnesses and enforce mental health parity law after the mother of a 16-year-old boy with mental illness in an in-patient program told Clinton about her fights with her health insurance company for treatment.

“We need to finally remove the stigma for mental health,” Clinton said to applause. “Too often I hear from parents who no longer even tell people that my son has schizophrenia, my daughter is bi-polar, my child has got chronic depression, because I feel like I’m judged.”

“We need to remove the stigma and enforce the law so that you get the quality and the number of treatments you need, whether it’s out patient or in-patient,” Clinton continued. “I’m going to work with the mental health community which has laid out an agenda about how we get this right once and for all, because it’s not fair to the person suffering and it’s certainly not fair to the families who are are trying to cope with that suffering and get the medical care that is needed.”

She also said talked about medical research learning more about how the brain operates, which will play a role in helping people with mental illness as well as people with Alzheimer’s. Last week Clinton called for spending two billion dollars a year on Alzheimer’s research in a bid to find cure by 2025.

Published inDemocratsHillary Clinton



    I look forward to hearing your policy statement.My husband and I are older parents who have an adult son with autism and intellectual disabilities. Our overwhelming concern and worry is about what his life will be like when we are no longer able to take care of him. Thankfully forty years ago children with disabilities gained the right to an appropriate education. At the time, I was not yet a parent but I was beginning was career as a special education teacher and it was exciting because we were doing work that needed to be done. Our children with disabilities eventually grow up and some of them still require support as adults. Unfortunately after they lose their right to an education that support is often very limited or isn’t there at all. This isn’t right and needs to change.

  2. Cheryl Lynne Oropal Cheryl Lynne Oropal

    Personally, I’m a Bernie Sanders supporter. That and I myself may, or may not have a possible autism spectrum disorder. My sister believed that I had Aspergers. Reason being that, as a child, she said I was more fixated on objects that on people and lacked the ability to show empathy. Something which may have been true, in part because I was bullied as a child and teenager and learned how to withdraw into myself. Despite the fact that I was always above average in intelligence, I always seemed to lack the social abilities required to become successful in life. Anyway, throughout my adult life – most of which was spent as an adult child living with a parent, I never had the ability to hold jobs for long or work full time. That and I never had the tolerance to stick through with college, currently in a community college I really don’t like and don’t see the purpose of, I am finally getting close to the associate’s degree. My basic problem being that I never was able to March to the beat of someone else’s drum. I’ve always been more self absorbed and self focused. Going on Social Security disability in 1989 after a long fight with the Social Security Administration on the part of my now elderly parents, I have been on Social Security disability since that day. Little did I realize how hard life was going to become when Mom got sick with a severe stroke in 2006 and her condo in Southbury, Connecticut sold 3 years later. Little did I realize that, taking off in my car for the west coast in hopes of a new life somewhere in Northern California and / or Oregon, I would end up homeless. driving back and forth across the country for the next two and a half years, I ended up in shelter after shelter. The last one being in Brooklyn, New York – rather than try to help the homeless find housing, the shelter itself being a mental illness and chemical addiction shelter run by a non-profit called Institute for community living, it seemed as if they were more interested in railroading those like me into the psychiatric system of medication and crapola, then in actually finding people in need of housing low income housing. During those eight months, my mother finally died. At which time my sister – a Republican who feels I’ve been nothing but a mooch off the system, literally told me that I was on my own. That I was no longer her problem! It was not her problem, because, from her own perspective of a woman who sucked it up and worked 43 years, I refused to take the medication like I should have so I can hold a simple job at McDonalds or as a janitor in a grocery store. Anyway, I left that shelter and once again drove out west. Finally getting some housing help in a place I wasn’t too happy about ever coming to after getting there. Las Cruces, New Mexico – a rather conservative place that’s not too open minded toward transgender people such as myself. Another one of my problems as a child, one the therapists never knew about and my family, especially my sister, was good at denying and still is good at denying. As for the housing assistance? I got the rapid rehousing grant. However, that only helped me for 13 months. At which time I had to make a decision between returning to homelessness, moving into student housing and taking out student loans to pay for what social security could not cover, or, like my sister who knew nothing about me since the day I was born, run out and get a job at McDonalds or Walmart. The reason I ended up on disability in the first place being that I never was good at working as fast as employers wanted me to and dealing with the pressure of having a boss on my back every single minute of the workday! That said, I think it’s about time politicians like Hillary – politician I still do not trust 100% because of her alliances with big banks and Wall Street, are taking this initiative toward those who struggle the most in the so called land of opportunity.

  3. Way too much talk about medical care with no mention of the torture abuse and medical rape that has gone on over the years. I was cut open when I was 10 years old to treat a severe digestive issue related to sodium fluoride in the water supply and toxic substances being added to food. If a 10 year old child cannot legally consent to sex, how could they possibly consent to an unnecessary and painful operation, that left behind scars, autoimmunity and entry points for serious infection. I get swelling from most chemical products that pushes serious infections into the space left where the nurse yanked the tube painfully out of my abdomen. I have a very hard time getting safe food and have to face many forms of physical abuse to get help.
    Why can’t I get funding for my life and my research instead of being tortured and abused for profit?

  4. Melissa Swaney Melissa Swaney

    My son has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome/ASD, along with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Disruptive Mood Dysregulation, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, Developmental Coordination Disorder; and is now being thought to show signs of having Schizophrenia; as most cases of people with ASD/Autism have co-existing disabilities. I believe there needs to be awareness within Police Departments./Law Enforcement in general. My son was bullied in High School; beaten up, equipment/tools taken away by bullies, and forced to remain in the classroom with the bully for the entire school year. This bully had a violent history at the school and was well known for his bullying. My son missed class after class, each day; and continued to call to come home when it came time to go to that classroom. When reported throughout the year, the Principal and staff did nothing to remedy the problem. Being that no student would come forward, they chose ignore my son, even after seeing the marks on his body. When I finally threatened to call the Police and file a report, the Principal, (who is no longer employed in the school system), took my son and the bully out of class, asked them to shake while he stood down the hallway and looked on. He claims that resolved it. However, it made matters worse. After informing the Principal that this was continuing, he pooh-poohed my concerns, so I went to the Police. Unfortunately, the school, who was supposed to protect my son, and follow the IEP, spoke to the Police Chief and said my son was a chronic complainer. So on the day we filed the complaint, we met with the Police Chief where he interrogated my disabled son. He asked such questions as; “Do you always play the victim?”, “What do you say to cause the bullying?”, “How many people are in the school; do you believe they bully you too?”. He went on with more questions, belittling my son. And in the end stated “The truth is we ALL get bullied, and you’re going to have to learn how to deal with that your entire life.” When I interjected and stated that it was wrong for the bully to threaten my son, beat him up, prevent him from doing his class assignments, and call him names, and then asked what was he going to do to prevent this from happening, the Police Chief said “Nothing.” This was his answer. What happened to “Protect and To Serve”? When I explained my son had Asperger’s Syndrome, and asked him if he knew what that was, the Police Chief answered “No.” When I asked if I could bring in literature to help him understand my son and his disability, the Police Chief said “I’m not interested and don’t bother, I won’t read it.” This is the ignorance we face. The Police/Law Enforcement and those who serve the community should go to training to gain a better understanding of the varying disabilities and the signs/symptoms. Due to his disability my son doesn’t make eye contact, if grabbed by the arm will have an outburst, and will not understand cues. The Police could view this as resistance and taser him, or become physical with him. However, if they understood how people with Asperger’s Syndrome, or those on the Autism Spectrum Disorder, work, they may have been able to help him, and help themselves. I’m hoping, Hillary, that you will also put into motion mandated training sessions for Police and those in Law Enforcement, so that they can learn about this disability, and others, so that there are no more senseless deaths.

  5. Melissa Swaney Melissa Swaney

    In addition to the above comment I shared.

    1.) I would hope for more Transitional Programs, that provide skill training in the following areas; budgeting and money management, time management, anger management, self-care, cooking, hygiene, socialization and role playing, physical wellness, and computer skills.
    2.) Provide more supportive housing, where a Resident Assistant can live in and monitor the persons having the disabilities; possibly having up to 3 clients to 1 RA.
    3.) Offer Job Coaching.
    3.) My son has an IQ of 95. However, he cannot receive the above services unless he has an IQ of 70 or below. But, he is substantially limited in over 5 of the Major Life Activities. But, without these services he will not be able to go onto college, find a job and keep it, live independently, etcetera. We need the PUNS program to extend services to those in need. Not define the person’s needs by their IQ. After all with supports in place people with ASD can become very successful.

  6. Bernadette Bernadette

    I certainly hope that this “Autism Plan” includes ALL those with special needs, not just those with ASD. Parents, caregivers, families, individuals associated with a special need, whether it be blindness, intellectual disability, hearing impaired, physical impairment, etc., suffer the same difficulties as those who are associated with ASD. So much press is given to Autism that it seems very often the rest of the special needs population is forgotten yet everyone has the same challenges in obtaining an education, employment, housing and long-term supports. I think it is unfair to single out one group within a larger population. Should we support in one way those who have down syndrome, another way to those who have Williams syndrome and still different supports to those who have a visual impairment?

    • Cheryl Lynne Oropal Cheryl Lynne Oropal

      Actually, half the problem is that, when it comes to ” employment”, automatically-people and especially politicians feel the answer is TRADITIONAL employment. For example, if people with Aspergers have trouble socially, placing one into some yuppie career in some office is NOT necessarily going to solve the problem. We have a whole wide world of alternative options for employment and the like out there that the Internet has opened up; why not utilize that to help those unable to function in the traditional 9-5 full time world of employment? Canada’s doing this by extending high-speed Internet service far into the Northwest and Yukon Territories, as well as mostly Native American Nunavut; they are opening up opportunities for those who have been traditionally among the underserved! Add to that government subsidies of such Internet service for those on limited incomes, UNLIKE here in this piece of crap capitalistic oligarchy where many are led to believe that ” Comcast Internet Essentials” is the answer by a mega-corporation who places PROFITS above all.

  7. Cheryl Lynne Oropal Cheryl Lynne Oropal

    Must I add that this is where Bernie Sanders has it all over Hillary Clinton; she seems to simply be following his lead. Copying his positions he has fought for for the past 35-40 years.

  8. Caro Caro

    To the person who says that only Bernie has addressed this: Yes, he has but Hillary has fought tirelessly for women’s/children’s rights , immediately after becoming a lawyer, long before she held any office. .It is only logical that with this autism program it will expand to other mental health difficulties. In fact this is stated at the end of the article, regarding access to community health care, etc.

    • Cheryl Lynne Oropal Cheryl Lynne Oropal

      I must be honest and say that, as a Bernie or bust Bernie Sanders supporter, after the way that woman, “Shillary” Clinton LIED, over and over again about every single one of Bernie Sanders’ positions, should she be the nominee in what is to be a contested Democratic Nomination for Democratic presidential contender, I absolutely REFUSE to vote for her! It’s getting more and more obvious that she will more than likely be the nominee; however, that all depends upon the superdelegates as well as total delegate count in which she is ahead by something like 700 points.

      Which brings me to some of the choices us “Bernie or Bust” supporters of Bernie Sanders are planning to vote for; seeing that stinking winch, and yes, corrupt corporate shill in service to Big Bastard Bank, NA of America, Inc. on Andrea Mitchell yesterday (I saw the replay on Chuck You Todd’s Meet the Press Daily), for a brief moment I wanted to believe her. However, when part of your political entourage includes $12,000 a plate fundraising dinners at a wealthy bankers home in Westport, Connecticut, it’s just too hard to believe that she even cares about losers like myself who struggled all their life only to end up on Social Security Disability. A few years ago when I was hospitalized in some damn psychiatric hospital (Long story short, being a transgender woman I tried to “finish the job I started”, so to speak, because Medicare would not pay for what I needed), my sister theorized the possibility that I may have had Asperger’s as a child and possibly still today. Not sure how that is relevant to all this? However, as a Bernie or Bust supporter of Bernie Sanders I am preparing myself for the inevitable.

      To which I will not be able to bring myself to vote in the general election for Hillary Clinton after all the lies she has told about Bernie Sanders, and yes, her ongoing REFUSAL to release the transcripts to those speeches supposedly about “Empowering women by making credit available” at Wall Street’s Goldman Sachs and other “Too big to fail” banks!!! Jill Stein is once again running on the Green-Rainbow Party ticket as she has done the last two presidential elections. Keeping up with her on Twitter, when I read about how, if elected (almost impossible, maybe, in a country stuck on the two-party system of Tweedledee and Tweedledum), she would do more for the disabled that even Bernie Sanders would. Not only that, but to cut the stupid military budget by 50% in order to free up taxpayers money to be used for far better things like subsidize low income housing, low-cost and/or free Internet for those who cannot afford it, mass transit and fixing the infrastructure, and yes, helping people with disabilities such as myself and others be able to have dignity in a country where the American Dream is basically nothing more than a farce at best! At least for those who cannot run around the gerbil wheel faster than humanely possible; those who don’t want to take some mindnumbing “nut pills” prescribed by some nutcase psychiatrist in order to become more “productive” and of better service to the McGarbage job economy.

      America needs REAL “CHANGE we can believe in.” I seriously doubt that a multimillionaire woman as president who owes all these bankers “favors” for the lucrative paychecks she has received doing speeches for them can really bring about REAL CHANGE in America! That said, I will not be voting for Hillary Clinton! Shillary is a better name for her because she is nothing more than a corporate shill and has done more in the past to make life more difficult for those struggling in America; as US Senator Hillary Clinton-D-NY, she voted “YES” for the so-called pathetic, sponsored by bank lobbyists looking to screw people who owe money on credit cards, mortgages, and the like, thinly disguised “Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2005.” The same act she stopped her husband from signing in 1998; why? Because the banks do not influence her by paying her $250,000 per speech??? Hillary is not only an LIAR. She and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, are WHITE COLLAR CRIMINALS. Their day is soon to come; Hillary is currently under investigation by the FBI. No thanks. Should Bernie Sanders not get that nomination, and it’s looking like that is going to be what just might happen, I will be left with just one choice. Jill Stein-2016.

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