Originally Posted by Science Mom
Suschi, Wouldn't increased diagnoses and awareness provoke the need for special classes? Haven't they also existed all along (during our lifetimes)? Some children that were on the spectrum and adults now would have been foisted into classes with the NT children for lack of awareness and severely autistic children were kept at home or institutionalised and/or labeled mentally retarded.
When my son regressed and developed autism at the age of two directly after a vaccine, the pediatrician said that he knew very little about autism because it was such a rare disorder. That was in the early 90s. At that time, neither the kindergarten nor the school my son attended had come across such an unusual child. It was not lack of awareness at that time, a child with autism or Aspergers Syndrome properly diagnosed could not be missed.
Now there are lots of 'on the spectrum' children because of very early screening, and teen screening, but these children are not disabled, they do not have autism or Aspergers Syndrome which are disabilities. It is my belief that there has been a deliberate attempt to hide the epidemic of autism that occurred between 1985 and early this century, by diagnosing more and more 'on the spectrum' children and giving them an autism label, and thereby not only trivialising the condition, but also increasing the rate. The latest rate of autism reported in the newspapers early this year was 1 in 58. Autism expert Simon Baron-Cohen knows that these children don't "have autism" but that's how it was reported.
Since 1999 and the link with vaccines, hundreds of famous historical people have been posthumously diagnosed with autism, and Aspergers has been associated with high IQ and giftedness. It has become such a popular diagnosis that people are self-diagnosing with Baron-Cohen's online AQ Test and joining Aspie forums. However, like Aspies For Freedom, they deliberately exclude lower-functioning individuals who have been diagnosed with autism and want to be cured, and they bully anyone who treats or tries to cure their child. According to these Neurodiversity activists autism is nothing more than a healthy variation in neurological hardwiring.
The Autism umbrella has been enlarged to include anyone who could be considered 'on the spectrum', and today when parents say that their children "have autism" it is very difficult to know exactly what they are talking about. For some in the last few years, a speech-delayed toddler who otherwise relates well to his family "has autism", or a gifted but shy, or socially awkward, teenager "has autism". There was a much clearer picture of what autism was in the 90s.
So when you ask, "Haven't they also existed all along (during our lifetimes)?", you are correct if you are referring to speech-delayed toddlers, or gifted and shy or awkward teenagers, but that's not what autism is.