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Fri Sep 11, 2015, 04:12 PM


Why are we still treating autism like an epidemic?


The true cost to global public health of two decades of acrimonious public debate about vaccines is clear in the recent resurgence of childhood diseases, such as measles, that were on the verge of eradication in many countries in the late 20th century. Although the theory that vaccines cause autism has been debunked by multiple studies, the anti-vaccine movement has left behind a much more pervasive and insidious legacy: the notion that autism is a distinctive plague of modern times.

If vaccines are not responsible for the rising number of diagnoses, the reasoning goes, the culprit must be some other threat lurking in our increasingly toxic environment: pesticides, antidepressants in the water supply, Wi-Fi or GM foods. Singer-songwriter Neil Young recently posted to his Facebook wall an MIT computer scientist's absurd claim that Monsanto's herbicide Roundup would render half of all children in the world autistic by 2025. Even Andrew Wakefield - originator of the erroneous study linking vaccines with autism - never went that far....

CDC director Thomas Frieden ventured that the revised estimate almost certainly did not reflect an actual increase in incidence, framing the new number as a hopeful sign that more autistic children are being identified earlier in their lives, so they and their families can get the help, educational resources and support services they need. The data from the agency's monitoring network backed him up. For example, the CDC's estimate of autism prevalence among white children in Utah was 28 times higher than the estimate for Hispanic kids in Alabama.

There's no clinical evidence that white kids are more prone to developing autism than Hispanic ones. The crucial factor is access to healthcare. In Utah, where autism has been tracked closely for three decades, diagnostic resources are widely available, whereas in Alabama, the needs of autistic children and their families in the Hispanic community have been historically under served. The lesson of these numbers is simple: the more public health resources you put in place to look for autism, the more you find it - and autistic people of all ages and their families reap the benefits. Until the 90s, most cases of autism went undiagnosed or were hidden behind labels such as "mental retardation" and "childhood schizophrenia". When the diagnostic criteria were revised to reflect the diversity of the spectrum, the numbers soared.

Disclaimer: The author interviewed me for his new book, NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, though he failed to mention me.

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Reply Why are we still treating autism like an epidemic? (Original post)
KamaAina Sep 2015 OP
Demeter Oct 2015 #1
KamaAina Oct 2015 #2
Demeter Oct 2015 #3
mapol Sep 2019 #4

Response to KamaAina (Original post)

Fri Oct 16, 2015, 03:08 PM

1. When Kanner decided to hog and suppress Asperger's research


he created a void. People were not getting diagnosed, which meant the size of the population wasn't accurately represented, and research money wasn't forthcoming, nor medical treatment and therapy, for at least 40 years. And then there was that pious fraud, Bettelheim and his refrigerator mother fantasy...

Then suddenly, the truth escapes. Lorna Wing and Uta Frith let Asperger out of the dungeon, Bettelheim is exposed, and all the autistic spectrum kids can come out of the closet and be counted.

And under those circumstances, with all the toxic pollution scares and radiation leaks, it sure looked like a sudden epidemic. The fact that several generations had been uncounted, mis-diagnosed, and institutionalized or just ignored...well, that was then. This is now.

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Response to Demeter (Reply #1)

Fri Oct 16, 2015, 03:11 PM

2. Have you read Steve Silberman's NeuroTribes, by any chance?



It makes these same points.

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Response to KamaAina (Reply #2)

Fri Oct 16, 2015, 03:14 PM

3. I read some articles on it, but not the whole book


But this tied into the research I did for my daughter, born in 1983, diagnosed finally in 1994.

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Response to KamaAina (Original post)

Wed Sep 11, 2019, 04:25 PM

4. The reason people are treating autism as an epidemic is ignorance or willful ignorance.

It's not that autism is on the increase, but there's much more awareness of it than there was in the past. That's why more people are being diagnosed with it.

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