Friday, June 25, 2010

Autism Rising. Time to Face the Truth

The prevalence of ASD is rising in this country without a definitive understanding of why this is occurring. According to a December 2009 report of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 110 children are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), including 1 in 70 boys. That rate represents a 57 percent increase from the CDC’s report in 2007, which last reported that 1 in 150 children with a diagnosis of ASD.4 The CDC has not been able to attribute this increase to better, earlier and broader diagnosis of the disorder, concluding that it cannot “rule out” a true increase in the prevalence of ASD.

The economic implications of ASD on society are significant. According to a 2006 study by the Harvard School of Public Health, the direct and indirect costs of taking care of an individual with autism over a lifetime can be $3.2 million. Lost productivity and adult care contribute heavily to this estimate. The cost to society to care for all individuals with autism is estimated to be $35 billion each year.5

I will leave it to those who glorify autism disorders to KWibble with the information provided by  both the DHCFP of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the CDC.  The conclusions reached concerning rising autism rates have been voiced many times by concerned parents and autism professionals but have been dismissed   Autism is a disorder, it is a serious disorder that impacts everyone in our society. It is time to ignore the autism is beautiful nonsense once and for all and push hard for real autism research, treatment, cure and services. Let's not let another decade go by without a serious effort to address the very real autism crisis that has been staring us in the face for so long.

It ain't just genetic. Time to face the truth, autism is rising and the crisis is real.


Anonymous said...

People who believe that autism is just due to "better diagnosis" are in serious denial or just downright ignorant. Doctors even acknowledge the huge increase numbers and are quite concerned. These people are also the ones spewing the "autism is lovely" nonsense anywhere they can. I think these individuals are few and far between overall. It just so happens they can't stop vomiting this nonsense all all over the internet. I don't believe they really feel autism is lovely and that there isn't an epidemic. I think it's just a way for them to get some sort of attention they so desperately need for some reason. When reading the majority of what these people write it certainly appears that they have some sort of mental health issue. When they keep writing the same crap over and over again on their blogs you can see just how desperate they are.

Anonymous said...

I am the mother of a 15 year old boy who was diagnosed with Autism when he was 4.5 years old.

I have read nearly everything i can get my hands on regarding the subject, i have attended conference's/workshops, i have advocated within our school district in BC.... all with the intention of raising awareness and becoming a better mother to my son.

I personally feel that the steady increase in children being diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder is in part due to the efforts of parents like myself, and many others who work so tirelessly to raise the awareness level about ASD.

Our medical community is far more advanced in detecting and identifying children who fit with in the Autism spectrum category.

Autism it's self is not on the raise, however awareness is.....

Autism is real, but it's as unique to each individual as is hair and eye color. We as a society need to understand that our kids are not sick or broken, just a little different.....

Tamara MacFayden

Unknown said...

Tamara thank you for your comments.

I have been advocating for autism issues since my 14 year old son was diagnosed 12 years ago so I understand your perspective.

I agree that some increase is due to increased awareness and the diagnostic changes introduced in the DSM-IV in 1994 but they do not explain the entire increase which is incredibly large.

Apart from my opinion, or yours, the CDC in the US and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have concluded that these increases can not be explained entirely by diagnostic change and awareness. There is an interview available on line of Dr. Tom Insel of the IACC interviewing Dr Peter Bearman and the conclusion discussed is that about 48% of the increase is based on the diagnostic/awareness factors but that leaves at least half of the massive increase due to other factors.

The current thinking is that autism results from the interaction of genetic and environmental factors. The environmental factors point to a real ... not a definition or awareness change.

Harold Doherty

Ian MacGregor said...

After all this time we still don't have a definitive answer to the question. Epidemiologists tend to agree with the awareness/expansion of the definition of autism side of the argument. But their papers include disclaimers that an actual expansion cannot be ruled out.

I think it is in general more awareness and the expansion of the definition. I am not however an absolutist on that.

Tamara to say a person is sick, that is has a serious and disorder is not to say that person is inferior to others or that his life is worth one iota less than someone who does not suffer from the same thing.

It is being realistic and calling attention to something for which a cure would afford so many people the chance to live a fuller life. It's about increasing opportunity.

If one believes their child is not sick, then I would conclude that one thinks there is nothing to cure. I know that does not mean one is against improving his life, but logically it does mean only symptoms can be addressed and not the root cause.

Anonymous said...


I wonder how much of a factor the following points play in contributing to the sudden raise in the number of identified children as of late???

1. Approximately 5 or so years ago our medical community adapted the term "ASD" (Autism Spectrum Disorder)to included Autism, PDD, Aspergers Syndrom, OCD and the list goes on..

2. Also we have all seen all too often and over abundance of children being mislabeled/misdiagnosed with Autism to fit within the ADS category... most often i have seen this within some school districts. Mind you the motives for the mislabel (misdiagnoses) are pure and with the intent to provided help to the child but still a contributing factor non the less....

I don't think their is any easy answer to the question raised in this artical.... but if we all keep talking and discussing the subject we will only help to raise the awareness level...

Thanks Harold

Ian MacGregor said...

Just a brief follow-up. Currently of course there is no cure, but I don't believe finding one is impossible.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ian

My idea is that there is nothing to cure because i do not believe that my son is sick.... he does not take any medication nor do we practice any specific diet regiment (above and beyond a healthy balanced diet).

My son does not attend any kind of therapy class's nor does he see a therapist such as Behavioral consultant/SLP/ABA/Loovas technique etc....

It's my belief that teaching coping skills (techniques) that come from everyday real life experiences is the best form of therapy...

I accept my son for who he is Autism and all.... many years ago after doing much research (on my own) and being offered much conflicting advise on how to "parent" my son, i concluded that the best form of therapy for him and our family is acceptance.

This is not to be confused with complacency, out of every new experience comes a learning opportunity and i try to make the best of every situation.

I realize that my ideas are slightly radical and some what left wing, but our life is calm and we enjoy our time as a family together making our experiences are rich.

I accept that everyone has their own way to parent and each one of us adapts a parenting technique that works for them and their children. I preach acceptance and i also practice acceptance.


Ian MacGregor said...

Tamara, I agree that sick is the wrong word to use
I used it in the sense that there is something wrong which needs curing.

If your child broke his leg, would you get it fixed? Of course you would. You would not reject treatment and or therapy and talk about simply accepting what has happened. Not accepting the situation is not seen as rejecting the child.

If we could not treat broken legs, hoping for a day in which we could, is not rejecting the child.

In autism it is not a limb that is broken, but in a sense the brain. Something went wrong with the synapse formation. In some cases slightly in others more so. We need a find a way to fix and or prevent this so that our children can live the fullest life possible

I absolutely adore my daughter and when she awakes we will spend the day hiking together. We have great times. However she is not just a little different, at 13 she is not just a little different, she is very so. She is a wonderful child and the differences have not taken away any of her humanity. What these differences have done is to rob her of any true method of communication, taken away her ability to have friends, made her nearly totally disinterested in learning to care for herself, and made it difficult for her to recognize dangers.

ASs she matures she will gain skills in the above areas, but it highly probable she will need round-the clock assistance all her life.

In no way do I reject my child, but I hope and pray for more effective therapies and yes even a cure. If a true one is developed which passes the safety standards and efficacy tests of evidence -based medicines. I would start on that treatment immediately. In my way of thinking not doing so would be a great wrong.

Anonymous said...


I understand your pain, and have made peace with the loss that parents so often experience when a diagnoses of Autism is delivered.

You sound like a wonderful parent who only has their child's best interest in mind. For that i commend you.... Your daughter is a lucky girl to have such an understanding father.

I loo forward to updates on your progress.


Donna said...

I am fascinated by the idea that there may be some real increases in autism caused by positive changes in our environment. Research shows autism is more likely in first borns which would mean having smaller families should increase the proportion of people with autism. Since being autistic is associated with difficult births, improvements in saving babies would increase the number of people with autism - if autism contributes to a difficult birth rather than a difficult birth creating an autistic child.