Updated at end of post.
By Anne Dachel
Anyone following the huge controversy over the question "Do vaccines cause autism?" has heard the endless denials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics. No matter how bad the numbers, autism is never a crisis and there hasn't been a real increase in the number of affected children. Autism--the mystery isn't understood yet but research continues. According to these groups, no one knows the exact cause of autism but it's probably genetic. There also is no effective treatment and no possibility of a cure. The CDC and the AAP are quick to tell us that diet, chelation, and hyperbaric oxygen are unproven and dangerous treatments. The CDC website states several times that there is no cure for autism.
The loudest voice representing the medical establishment comes from Dr. Paul Offit, co-inventor of the rotavirus vaccine. He offers no hope to parents regarding recovery from autism, especially those people using biomedical treatments. He calls chelation therapy for autism 'unethical.' He further explains that if kids seem to improve with alternative/supplementary medicine, it's just coincidence. Offit was quoted saying, 'Classical Western medicine does not offer much for the treatment of autism. These fringe therapies have appeal because there is not much else out there.' (see: HERE)
A story from WebMD stated that according to Offit, "Very young children with mild symptoms of autism often get better on their own later in childhood, which may explain why many parents believe so strongly that alternative treatment work."
'There is a natural wax and wane with this disorder. Symptoms that seem very bad between the ages of 2 and 5 may get much better between the ages of 6 and 10,' said Offit
Offit repeated this claim recently in a New York Times story HERE horseback riding therapy helping autistic kids. (It seems even equestrian therapy comes under attack from Dr. Offit. who called it "a false hope," "misleading," and "expensive.") Here he told readers, 'The natural history of mild to moderate autism is that it does get better over time. You're worse between 2 and 5, and you tend to get better between 5 and 10. You mature, and you get better. If you take a child who is screaming uncontrollably and put them in a car, they calm down.'
This is a new claim as far as I can see. I suspect it's being promoted as an attempt to explain the kids that parents have successfully recovered using bio-medical treatment. It's only a coincidence when these children get better after having chelation therapy or after a change to a GFCF diet. Silly parents like Jenny McCarthy don't understand that their children would have recovered regardless of 'fringe treatment' they used, according to Offit.
This leads me to another recent NY Times story, Tug of War Over Costs to Educate the Autistic HERE.
This was a very scary piece. There were stunning statistics about autism in New York City schools:
The cost of educating an autistic child can be $85,000/year at the Brooklyn Autism Center Academy.
"In 2001, the city's Department of Education listed 3,278 students with autism; by 2008, that figure had more than doubled to 6,877."
"Other autistic students attend private schools from a list of those approved by the state, and their tuition, which ranges from $30,800 to $48,100, is paid by the city's Education Department."
If Paul Offit is right, a lot of these students will simply outgrow autism. It's 'the natural history of mild to moderate autism.' If he's wrong, these kids are a ticking financial time bomb.
For years, many of us in the autism community have asked, "Where are the adults with autism at a rate even remotely close to what we see in our children?" The CDC, famous for their population studies, has never been able to come up with one that could find them. Now we're being told that individuals are less symptomatic as adults and they cease to be a problem.
As someone in touch with countless parents in many places, I can report without hesitation that the vast majority of them are desperate about their children's future. And desperate isn't too strong a word. In Offit's magic kingdom, autism may just disappear as children age, but in the real world, lots of parents have an overwhelming burden of care as kids get older, bigger, and stronger.
One paragraph in the Times story stood out:
" 'The giant elephant in the room, if one in 150 children are being diagnosed with autism, is that they have the same life expectancy,' said Gary S. Mayerson, a lawyer who has represented more than 1,000 families. 'Either invest the money now for effective programming or find that your efforts are inadequate.' "
As I read this Times story about the increase in autistic students and in the cost of educating them, I noticed that the reporter never told us why this was happening. If the number of blind students had more than doubled in seven years in NY City schools, wouldn't they tell us what was causing so many kids to be disabled? The Times didn't get around to it. I could only imagine a staff meeting at the Times where an editor asked the reporter about the piece.
STAFF MEETING AT THE NYTIMES:
Editor: "You don't give a reason for the big increase in the number of New York City schoolchildren with autism. Did you ask anyone where they're coming from?"
Reporter: "No one knows for sure. Someone said it was because doctors are better at recognizing autism and they've expanded the definition of the disorder."
"Well, has there been a huge decrease in other categories of disabilities?"
"Not that I've heard. No one really knows anything. They told me to talk to the Centers for Disease Control. Officials there said they're not sure if more kids really have autism or not. It's a mystery."
"Is anyone worried about this trend? What if the numbers double again in the next seven years?"
"No one I talked to seemed concerned."
"Does anyone know what's going to happen to these kids when they become adults?"
"No one I talked to seemed concerned."
"Does anyone know how we're going to cover the cost for services?"
"No one really has an answer."
Anti-science agencies like the CDC, along with groups like the AAP ignore these kids, claim they're no problem, and scratch their collective heads over autism as some BIG MYSTERY. They still promote the lie that autism hasn't increased, despite spending millions of tax dollars counting these kids for the last 20 years.
In the end, the truth will hit us right between the eyes.
Right now, we just blindly stumble on seemingly unconcerned about the future, but stories about autism are always about kids with autism. Soon we'll be hearing about the needs of the young adults along with the continuing impact of autistic children.
I used to say, "No one is going to care about these kids until they're in the streets with no place to go." I meant it as a metaphor but now I see it as a real possibility. For years I've been writing about the devastating impact this disabled generation will have on America, both socially and economically. I'd love to be proven wrong but below are the official figures. We are just beginning to see what autism is going to cost us. This trend shows no signs of slowing down. We've often been told that there are 500,000 autistic children in the U.S. Official estimates of lifetime care cost range from $3 to $5 million and more PER INDIVIDUAL.
These statistics show us clearly what's happening.
When 1 in 150 is really 1 in 67 HERE
By Raymond W. Gallup & F. Edward Yazbak, MD, FAAP
Look at the Dept. of Ed. figures and imagine a similar increase in the number of young adults applying for Social Security Disability.
Recently President pro Tem of the California State Senate, Darrell Steinberg , announced the establishment of the Senate Select Committee on Autism (ASD). Steinberg said that their intention is to make autism a “public health priority.”
Various state officials and autism advocates spoke at a press conference explaining what their work would include. They talked about the cost of autism, the need for services, and the shocking numbers in CA.
While Steinberg made a reference to the “prevention of autism,” no one expanded on this idea during the press conference. A number of upcoming bills were talked about.
One state senator aims to help with early diagnosing and intervention. Someone else is working on housing for people with autism. Another senator is focusing on employment for affected adults.
One speaker gave us the mind-boggling numbers, saying that there were "14,000 students with autism a decade ago.” Then he added the increase, “46,000 students today, and growing."
As I watched the video, I kept waiting for someone to say, "We have to find out why this is happening to so many children. We can't keep adding thousands of children like this. This is a national health care emergency." But no one did.
Rick Rollens of the MIND INSTITUTE spoke and made what I thought were the best comments.
These were among the things he said:
"Autism is epidemic in this state as it is throughout the country."
"Autism population is skewed dramatically toward young children."
"Eight-four percent of the autism population is under the age of 21."
"More six and seven year olds in the system than all the adults with autism combined."
What these people are talking about is reality. This is what autism is doing to our country. When Steinberg pointed out the billions of dollars autism is costing us now and the billions more autism will be costing as these kids age out into adulthood no one made the claim that there’s been no real increase, only "better diagnosing.”
And no one said that these kids are going to outgrow autism because there is absolutely no evidence in the real world that it happens.
Anne Dachel is Media Editor of Age of Autism.