If any disease or disorder saw startling increases from 1 in 500 to 1 in 110 in just over a decade it would be taken seriously. Unless of course the disorder in question is autism where a significant number of professionals are joined by Neurodiversity ideologues in denying the existence of an autism epidemic. The deniers hold religiously to their beliefs without an explanation for much of the startling increase in autism diagnoses.
The autism epidemic deniers rely heavily on the 1994 change in autism diagnostic criteria and definitions, diagnostic substitution, increased autism awareness and other ascertainment factors. While there is no dispute that these factors play substantial roles in accounting for the upswing in autism diagnoses they only account for approximately 50% of the increase in autism diagnoses, leaving 50% of the increase unexplained. Given the startling rise in autism diagnoses 50% of that increase represents in itself a startling increase. Yet the deniers blithely assure the world that there is no real increase in autism diagnoses.
The view that 50% of the increase in autism diagnoses is unexplained by diagnostic change, substitution and ascertainment factors can not be pinned on a celebrity actress or holistic doctor frowned upon by the "scientific community". Doctors Novella and Gorski and Neurodiversity ideologue Kev Leitch can not use "scientific" terms like "woo" and "quack" to dismiss the opinions of Dr. Thomas Insel, director of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, who has stated in an interview with journalist David Kirby that 50% of the autism diagnoses increases reported in the California study is unexplained by diagnostic change and ascertainment factors:
"It looks like about 24 percent of the California increase can be attributed to something like a change in diagnosis criteria. They are beginning to use multiple diagnoses. So that children before, who were listed simply as mentally retarded rather than autism - but they had both - are now logged in with both. But that really caps out at around 24 percent. There’s probably another piece of this, which globally could be attributed to ascertainment. But that caps out at around 16 percent, or something like that. And when you put all of that together, you are still well below explaining 50 percent of the increase.
So what does that mean? It means that, as far as I can tell, the burden of proof is upon anybody who feels that there is NOT a real increase here in the number of kids affected. Because all of the evidence we have up until now says that, well there are what we could call – I wouldn’t call them ‘trivial’ factors – but they are factors that are not related to incidence, but would be simply related to prevalence, like ascertainment. But they don’t really explain away this huge increase.
This tells you that, you really have to take this very seriously. From everything they are looking at, this is not something that can be explained away by methodology, by diagnosis. Some piece of it can, but the whole thing can’t."" [Bold highlighting added. HLD]
Having rejected the diagnostic and ascertainment factors as complete explanations for the increases in autism diagnoses Dr. Insel then went on to reject the theoretical basis of autism epidemic denial, the assumption that autism disorders result entirely from genetic factors and the fervent belief that environmental factors do not play a role in causing autism disorders:
"I don’t think anybody is arguing that it is 100-percent genetic. I mean, I think that there are just a lot of questions that this raises. And I don’t think in those terms, exactly, that it’s either genetic or it’s environmental. From my perspective, it’s almost always going to be both. And the only question is: How do you nail down this interaction, how do you go after it?
There is no question that there has got to be an environmental component here. The problem for us has been trying to find the right way to get our hands around it, and to identify what that is most likely related to ... in the last few months, or maybe year, we’ve begun to develop the tools that will allow us to get at this. And these tools are from this whole emerging field of epigenetics, or epigenomics. And in this case you are not looking at genetic sequence - which is what we’ve been doing for the last decade - but you’re looking at how the DNA is bound up with all kinds of proteins. That is largely affected by experience, or by environment. Some of it is probably hardwired, but a lot of it has to do with exposures, particularly early in development but even, as we are learning, even after birth
So what we are really excited about here, I think, is to be able to use these new tools. And what has only happened in the last month or two is the first whole genome epigenetics effort, where we have been able to say, ‘We can map this entire aspect of genomic biology, and it tells us what someone’s exposure history might have been.’ It shows you effectively, or we are hoping it will show us, where the scars might be from early exposures."
The near 100% focus on genetic based autism research over the last decade, referenced by Dr. Insel, was identified by Terersa Binstock in 1999. That focus has resulted in little research of the environmental factors involved in causing autism disorders. The failure to study possible environmental factors in causing autism has allowed autism epidemic deniers to claim that there is no evidence of environmental factors in causing autism, that autism is entirely genetic and that there is therefore no autism epidemic since a purely genetic disorder would not show dramatic increases in such a short period of time.
Given the recent CDC data, and given the emerging scientific view reflected in IACC Director Insel's statements in the Kirby interview it appears time is now running out for the autism epidemic deniers.