Was there any progress in addressing autism disorder issues in 2011? In the humble opinion of this father of a severely autistic 16 year old there was very slight progress on the research front, very slight, and that progress was more than offset by the regression on other fronts particularly in the area of autism awareness.
The hard core reality is that in the six years since I began this blog and in the nearly 14 years since my son was diagnosed with autistic disorder no substantial progress has been made towards curing, treating or even understanding autism disorders. The displacement of the original more severely autistic population with very close links to intellectual disability by Aspergers diagnosed, in some cases self diagnosed, persons with very little, if any impairment in daily life functioning has confused the public, confounded autism research and taken the pressure off of autism service providers.
The severely autistic are still under represented in autism research which now searches Korea and the rest of the world for those who are so high functioning that they are not even noticed as having a disorder in highly structured, organized societies. Those who are barely autistic, if at all, still purport to speak on behalf of those on the spectrum who are severely affected by autism. Governments feel less and less pressure to provide services for those who most need them because autism has become autism fluffy and lite in the New York Times and other influential mainstream media outlets.
The original severely autistic remained invisible in 2011 and with the DSM5 removal of the intellectually disabled from the autism spectrum will be forgotten completely. Hidden out of sight in institutions, they are now out of the public mind completely which instead sees highly intelligent, highly functional "geek" populations, as representative of autism. Autism has become autism lite and fluffy. Autism dark and heavy remains hidden and forgotten.
For those seeking treatments and cures for autism, for the original, invisible, severely autistic population in 2011 it was just another year like those before, just more back to the future.