Richard Nixon photo

Proclamation 4225—National Autistic Children's Week, 1973

June 15, 1973

By the President of the United States Of America

A Proclamation

One of the most cruel and difficult to understand of all childhood mental disorders is the baffling condition known as childhood autism.

The autistic child does not develop normal speech, make full contact with the world about him, or learn in the usual way from those who seek to reach him in his seclusion of silence or gibberish.

It is estimated that about four children in every 10,000 are autistic. Without special education and care, nearly all are faced with a life of confinement at home or in an institution for the mentally ill. The human costs are equally disturbing; not only do autistic children lead wasted lives but the lives of their parents are scarred by feelings of frustration as they and others seek to understand the bizarre behavior of the children and try to find help in the community.

Autistic children first received medical recognition as a special group in 1943. Now, thirty years later, the underlying causes of early childhood autism are still unknown, and there is no specific treatment. Furthermore, almost all autistic children continue to be excluded from existing school systems.

The outlook is not without hope, however. Many experts continue to express cautious optimism that somewhere there is a solution to this frustrating mystery—a chemical key, a treatment approach, or a pivotal research discovery that will unlock the autistic child from his forced isolation. To provide greater public recognition of the plight of these children the Congress has, by a Joint Resolution which I approved today, called upon me to proclaim the last week of June, 1973, as National Autistic Children's Week.

Now, Therefore, I, Richard Nixon, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim the week of June 24 through June 30, 1973, as National Autistic Children's Week. I invite the Governors of the States, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and officials of other areas subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to issue similar proclamations.

I urge the people of the United States and educational, philanthropic, scientific, medical, and health care organizations and professionals to provide the educational and other care services needed by autistic children and to support aggressive research efforts to discover the causes and cure of childhood autism and thus alleviate the suffering of persons struck by this tragic disorder.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this fifteenth day of June, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred seventy-three and of the Independence of the United States of America, the one hundred ninety-seventh.

Signature of Richard Nixon


NOTE: The text of the proclamation was released at Key Biscayne, Fla.

Richard Nixon, Proclamation 4225—National Autistic Children's Week, 1973 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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