More than 7,000 Oregon students have autism, triple the count 10 years ago and 11 percent higher than just a year ago, the state reported Wednesday."
The Oregonian, March 13, 2008
Neurodiversity believers will automatically state that increases in autism in Oregon are due to changes in the definition, diagnostic criteria , and increased public awareness of autism disorders. They are partly correct in that such factors have occurred. And it is very reasonable to assume that such factors account for some of the increases in Oregon and elsewhere. But it is not reasonable to assume that the startling increases in autism disorder diagnoses is attributable entirely to definition change and social factors.
The belief that these increases are due entirely to changes in how we view autism is a faith based belief unsupported by credible studies or data. It amounts, without evidence, to a rejection of the possibility that environmental factors, not just thimerosal, but any environmental factors, are causing or contributing to the rise, across Canada, the US, and Europe to the startling increases in autism diagnoses. The presence of mercury, lead, aluminum, and a long list of chemicals and plastic components in our drinking water, and our environment generally, are ruled out as possible causes or contributing factors to the rise of autism.
The true believers of the neurodiversity movement are free to cling to their beliefs. I prefer to keep an open mind and, until more study is done, and more information is available, work on the assumption that the very dangerous substances in our environment might be having harmful effects on our children. Increases in autism disorder diagnoses might be one of those harmful consequences of our increasingly toxic environment.