Sunday, August 26, 2007

Autism Numbers

In Autism by the numbers Newsday offers a reality based perspective on the autism crisis facing families and governments in the United States today and the need to establish regional autism prevalence in order to allocate resources appropriately. The opinion article points to the lack of funding and implementation of the US Combating Autism Act , the lack of standard reporting requirements for schools and pediatricians, the slow pace of movement by the CDC and lack of coordination by various levels of government for the failure to establish regional autism rates.

The call by Newsday for action, for detailed epidemiological studies, to establish regional rates is based on two premises: (1) Autism is a serious disorder with an enormous impact on families and (2) Autism diagnoses, for whatever reason, are increasing at an alarming rate.

Autism is a lifelong heartbreak for parents of children diagnosed with the puzzling disorder, whose incidence is growing at alarming rates.

Not only does it mean years of exhausting care to manage behavioral aberrations that make everyday functioning for their children difficult at best, dangerous at worst. But it also means constant worries by parents that, after they're gone, their adult children may fall through the cracks of a system badly equipped to serve their many needs.

And those needs are growing rapidly. Once reported as a rare disorder, autism now affects one in every 150 children in the United States, according to the latest available studies conducted by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Regardless of cause, evidence that a growing number of children are being diagnosed as autistic is everywhere. Agencies on Long Island that provide social, educational and training services for children and adults with autism can't keep up with the growing demand. Residential facilities in Nassau and Suffolk report waiting lists ranging from two to five years.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Though this is going to sound very counter-intuitive, I keep wondering if autism numbers could be going up because infant/fetal mortality has dropped so much. There is lots of evidence that being autistic is associated with problems in the birth process, and some researchers think that autism causes these problems. Over the twentieth century there was a drop in infant mortality from about 100 per 1000 live births in the beginning of the century to about 7 per 1000 in 2000. That leaves plenty of room for extra autistic babies to be born and live because of changes in medicine, sanitation, etc.