Is the massive increase in autism real?? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 07-18-2010, 10:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I know that there seems to be a large # of kids around me who are autistic. I know that is also happening nationally. Are we just classifying these children as autistic or is there a real spike? I believe there is a real increase...
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#2 of 9 Old 07-18-2010, 11:33 PM
 
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Both, possibly. : There's a lot of debate about this... There are a lot more children being diagnosed with autism for 2 main reasons:

-In the last 5-10 years, a lot more of the high functioning end of the spectrum has been diagnosed. That makes up a *huge* amount of the increase. Prior to this, these were the "quirky", "weird", "loner", "antisocial" kids. Now, a diagnosis is being put to the symptoms. 15-20+ years ago, my child with autism would not have been diagnosed with autism...that diagnosis was reserved for people with much more severe cases than my son is. There is also more awareness now, so when a child is showing signs of not developing appropriate social skills and having other symptoms, they are diagnosed pretty early on instead of getting to adulthood with no diagnosis. When you say there are a lot of children around you who are autistic, that is because awareness has increased so much that you know what autism, especially HFA, looks like. 20 years ago, when someone said the word "autism", it typically brought up images much more severe than what people think of today...

To find the true number though, we really would have to go through and see how many undiagnosed ASD adults there are. I believe there was a study done recently that did just this in another country. They basically went door to door and screened adults, and in the end, they found out that roughly 1 in 56 adult males and 1 in 200 adult females in the England met criteria for ASDs. That is roughly what the diagnosis rate in children currently is as well.

Here is a fantastic article about the so called "epidemic". http://www.iancommunity.org/cs/under...rch/prevalence

ETA: Also, prior to 1990, the federal government did not recognize autism as a disability for special education, and therefore, children in public schools typically did not carry that diagnosis, or it wasn't one that was frequently encountered in the schools like it is today where there are a lot of services offered and reimbursed for through the NCLBA.

~Brandon Michael (11/23/03), Jocelyn Lily Nữ (2/4/07, adopted 5/28/07 from Vietnam), Amelia Rylie (1/14/09), & Ryland Josef William (9/7/05-9/7/05 @ 41 wks). 
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#3 of 9 Old 07-19-2010, 12:12 AM
 
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Absolutely.
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#4 of 9 Old 07-19-2010, 12:18 AM
 
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My mom is a special ed teacher and she works specifically with autistic children.
I, personally, think it's mostly a higher rate of diagnosis more than a higher rate of occurrence.
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#5 of 9 Old 07-19-2010, 12:34 AM
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yes, definitely real:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-..._b_548837.html

"Our task is not to see the future, but to enable it."
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#6 of 9 Old 07-19-2010, 04:49 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A&A View Post
Here's a different take on the same study:

http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=4726#more-4726
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#7 of 9 Old 07-19-2010, 07:16 AM
 
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I struggle with this because often the diagnoses is subjective.

If we have one individual child who is high functioning two different people wouldn't necessarily come up with the same diagnoses.

If it was something simple that was a clear yes or no it might be easier to understand but I don't think it is clear and I don't think we can understand.

This is of course not including all the increases in allergies, immune conditions and various other issues that are ALSO being diagnosed more often.

Yes, I have a chronic illness but the technology for the test for that illness didn't exist when I first exhibited symptoms as a young teen. I don't think this is at all clear when technology has offered us so many tools that earlier generations did not have.

Even if one removed the vaccinations factor from the equation, how many other ways have we harmed ourselves? Dioxins, lead, cadnium and dibenzofurans, there are so many things that our parents or grandparents could or would have been exposed to that are likely effecting us to this day.

It has been proven that even our very genetics can be harmed.


I don't think there is an easy answer to this question.

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#8 of 9 Old 07-19-2010, 10:50 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heathergirl67 View Post
Here's a different take on the same study:

http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=4726#more-4726

This was a great link. Thank you. I hadn't seen it before.

As a parent of a child "on the spectrum" who is homebirthed, unvaccinated and never had any interventions I do think it's an important point. I have never blamed vaccines for the increase, but I do think they can tip the scales in an otherwise susceptible individual. I do believe there are factors to blame in terms of susceptibility (increased incidences of chronic disease in parents, the common over-reliance on meds (of which I had plenty as a kid) poor nutrition, environmental factors etc.) but I also believe that it's much easier to get a diagnosis now than it was back in the day. Based on diagnostic criteria I would have been labeled as a kid had it been the diagnosis du jour. Many of us would have.

Would it have been easier had I been labeled? I really don't think so. It would have likely meant more meds that I actually got though. I think it would have placed unnecessary limitations, frankly. However, having watched my daughters journey, I am glad there were appropriate resources, without which she wouldn't be doing so marvelously well. I do credit the "boom" with that. It's a slippery slope, to be sure.

I guess in the end what we as a culture need to realize is that every person is an individual (which means no single path.) To me this means that we should work hard to support our kids in what they need regardless of a diagnosis, or lack thereof. That means services when and if needed, therapies to optimize function in the world, dietary modification where appropriate, nutritional support if indicated etc.
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#9 of 9 Old 07-19-2010, 11:33 AM
 
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I think it may be increasing somewhat, but nowhere near as much as it appears. As the PP said, kids who had no label before have one now, and schools are reporting ASD where before they weren't. In addition, kids who did have a label in the past may have had a different label. They may have been diagnosed with mental retardation (and rates of diagnosis of MR decrease when rates of diagnosis of ASD increase) or a conduct disorder, or another learning or psychological disability. Back in the 50's and 60's to diagnose a child with autism was also to blame their parents for what amounts to psychological torture, and causing the disease. (I don't think ASD is a disease btw.) And a doctor now who needs to decide what diagnosis to give generally knows that there are programs available to a child with an ASD label that are not open to children with cognitive disabilities, or other issues. I'm not saying they lie about what is going on, but since it's subjective, there are people who lean to ASD so that the kids can get treated. In MA, for example, you can get significantly more hours a week of Early Intervention if you have an ASD label.

Any study that shows a true increase with all of these variables accounted for, or that shows little to no increase, would then have to be replicated. One study may suggest something, but cannot really prove it. You need a substantial base of evidence, especially for something so complicated and controversial as this.
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