Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Autism Surging - Bloggers Miss the Point

News of huge increases in reported incidents of autism from the UK and from Massachusetts have prompted much discussion amongst internet bloggers on the subject. Unfortunately most internet bloggers on autism tend to be neurodiversity advocates who do not want to know cause or cure when it comes to autism. Even the most balanced and courteous neurodiversity blogger, Ms Kristina Chew, of the mis-named Autism Vox blog site, tended to focus on discrediting media reports of the surge, parsing the wording and style of journalist accounts, instead of addressing the real issue of why such startling increases in reported rates of autism are occurring. It is fair to talk about changes in diagnostic criteria, and changes to the DSM-IV but the last revision of the DSM-IV occurred more than a decade ago. The doubling of reported incidents of autism refers to a doubling of incidents with the past few years - more than a decade after the DSM revision. Undoubtedly increased awareness is a factor but it is a very big and dangerous assumption to conclude that a doubling of reported incidents in a few short years is entirely due to awareness. At least without proper investigation and research.

1 comment:

Maya M said...

I, for myself, do want to know the cause(s) of autism. Those pro-neurodiversity bloggers who are against such research fear that the causes are mainly genetic and their identification will be used for prenatal diagnosis and abortion of affected fetuses ("search-and-destroy mission"). I understand them. People are very sensitive when their genes are targeted for elimination. Even underclass parents living on welfare and petty crimes are outraged when some taxpayer supporting them and their children suggests that they should consider having smaller families.
About cure, I side with "Not Mercury" (
While I agree that some people are too quick to label as bad parents those who want to cure their child from autism, I feel uneasy that so many parents, seeing what a deep and serious condition autism is, still are firmly convinced that there must be a cure and it may be so near round the corner that maybe out-of-mainstream scientists, alternative medicine practitioners or fellow parents have already found it. Such thoughts may encourage the parents try something hazardous for the kids. Let me cite another NotMercury's post,