The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have a very difficult role to play when it comes to what they do about the autism epidemic. Both organizations have to appear concerned (since something affecting more than one percent of U.S. children is a little hard to ignore), yet not alarmed over autism. In addition, they have to be making some efforts to find answers at the same time they’re clearly paralyzed by the ramifications of this growing health care nightmare.
For the past couple of decades, the CDC and the AAP have looked on passively as more and more kids fell victim to autism. Doctors have received most of the credit as the exponential increase was attributed to “better diagnosing.”
On Thurs., March 29, 2012, CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden gave us the new rate of one in every 88 children/one in every 54 boys, not at a well-publicized official press conference in Atlanta covered by masses of national news people, but with a hastily announced conference call. And on Mar 29, 2012 in Discovery News Frieden claimed, “It’s possible the rise is entirely due to better detection of autism.”
The better diagnosing can most likely be traced back to the changes in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM) in 1994 when the high functioning form of autism called Asperger’s Syndrome was added to the definition. In addition, at the AAP convention in Oct 2007, the leadership recommended early screening for autism at well-baby checks.
Autism wasn't a crisis for the AAP in 2007 and it isn't today. The AAP had no answers in 2007 and they have no answers today, more than five years later. The only big difference is that in 2007, the autism rate was one in every 150 children and today it’s one in every 88 kids/one in every 54 boys. No CDC official can tell a new mother what she can do to prevent her baby from also ending up on the autism spectrum. Officially, there is no known cause or cure for autism. Incredibly, no one at the AAP or the CDC is alarmed nor has any officials ever called autism a CRISIS, no matter what the jaw-dropping rate.
All this would seem to indicate that the medical community has a handle on what autism is doing to our nation. If nothing else, doctors are able to find autism early which means kids get the help they need as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, we’re now learning even this claim simply isn’t true. It may be 18 years since the DSM added Asperger’s and five since the AAP told their doctors to look for the signs of autism in babies, but as CBS News reported on May 24, 2012, doctors still aren’t able to recognize autism in a developing boy or girl. In the story, More than half of school-aged kids with autism diagnosed at 5 or older, CBS reporter, Michelle Castillo, told us, “Although the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends pediatricians screen children for autism at 18 months, new government research shows more work has to be done. More than half of school-aged kids with autism in the U.S. were 5-years-old or older by the time they were diagnosed.”
Many of us in the autism community look on the AAP/CDC call for early diagnosis as nothing but lip service in the first place and now we learn they can’t even get that right. Autism is the disorder where no one knows anything for sure. Everything is a “maybe.” Asperger’s may have been added in 1984 as a big step forward, but experts are now preparing to remove it from the DSM.
There hasn’t been any real progress since the days when those in the know said autism was because of “refrigerator moms.” We’re still blaming mothers everywhere. Here’s a list of the latest findings on things associated with autism:
Moms who take antidepressants while pregnant
Moms who develop a fever while pregnant
Moms who have babies too close together
Moms who smoke while pregnant
Moms who are older
Moms who are obese
Moms who live too close to freeways
Everything about autism is anybody’s guess.
On May 21, 2012, Education Week published the story, Families Don't Seek Help for Autism from Pediatricians.
Readers were told that “a small new study discussed at the International Meeting for Autism Research in Toronto last week found that parents didn't expect their pediatricians to provide autism-specific treatment, and many pediatricians don't view autism treatment as within the scope of their work.”
Can anyone tell us why we shouldn’t walk away from all of these people as fast as we can?
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism. Subscribe to her newsfeed at AnneDachel.com.