By Anne Dachel
Read Anne's commentary and view the links after the jump. The Dachel Media Update is sponsored by Lee Silsby Compounding Pharmacy and OurKidsASD, an online supplement retailer for patients with special needs.
Anyone looking closely at autism news coverage quickly notices a number of messages that the public is now quite used to seeing:
Autism is on the rise.
Autism's cause is a mystery, but the link to vaccines has been repeatedly debunked.
Autism is a disorder that overwhelmingly affects children, yet many people claim that it's not a new disorder--it's always been around like this; we just called it something else.
The U.S. is doing a number of things to accommodate all these affected children--from training teachers how to deal with autistic students and doctors how to diagnosis the disorder, to making movies and visits to Santa at the mall "autism friendly."
Every April there is a worldwide month-long acknowledgement of autism when we turn on blue lights and call for "autism awareness."
The subtle but persistent message is always there: Despite knowing nothing for sure about the disorder, no one is really worried. No U.S. health official has ever gone on the record calling autism a crisis. "Serious public health concern" is the strongest language anyone from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has ever used when they announce yet another jaw-dropping increase in the rate.
Research is continuously in the news. Autism is linked to defective genes and lots of bad behavior on the part of the parents. Nothing is ever found to be the actual cause--instead we always hear about things that are "associated with" or "linked to" autism.
Despite 25 years of dead-end science and exploding numbers, we keep on pretending that everything is all right. No one in the media is asking the questions that any rational person would:
Just how bad are the numbers going to get?
Why can't anyone show us a comparable rate among adults? (And why isn't anyone even looking for the undiagnosed/misdiagnosed middle aged and elderly people with autism?)
Why isn't there anything in place for all the young adults aging out of school? (Why can't ASD young adults go where ASD adults have always gone?)
Regardless of the media spin on things, the adults are coming. Each one of them will cost this country millions, according to a conservative, out-of-date study from Harvard--$3.2 million/person. Hundreds of thousands of people who never paid into social services will be living off the taxpayers for the rest of their long lives. This should be seen as a national crisis, but incredibly, it's not.
Several recent stories talked about the problem of autistic adults, but once again, the reporters didn't state the obvious.
U.S. News and Tech Times reported that there are 1.5 million Americans with autism. This number comes from applying the current rate across the entire population, something no one has ever been able to do.
Autism is on the rise: More than 1.5 million people have the condition in the United States alone. But because the majority of these people are younger than 22, the country is on the verge of an "autism tsunami" that could leave thousands without the support they need as they become adults, according to Autism Speaks, an autism advocacy organization.
"The current system we have right now is woefully inadequate," says Angela Lello, director of housing and community living at Autism Speaks. "There are lots of long waiting lists. In some states, it can take as long as 10 years to gain access to [these support] services." . . .
Autism is part of life for half a million young people who will grow into full adulthood over the next eight years. Each year, on average, 50,000 young people with autism transition into adults. The majority of the 1.5 million Americans suffering from autism are under the age of 22. The advance of this many people with the disorder as they transition into adulthood is being described by some observers as an "autism tsunami."
The number of diagnosed autism cases in the United States has skyrocketed since the 1980's. Researchers are still uncertain if this represents the disorder becoming more common, or a result of additional screenings and funding for diagnoses.
. . .The Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education and Support Act of 2014 (Autism Cares) was recently signed into law by President Obama. This legislation would provide $1.3 billion over five years for autism research, and to identify gaps in care for those with autism, including those on the verge of becoming adults.
This is infantile coverage.
WHY IS THIS A PROBLEM?
James Maynard, seemingly oblivious to the steady annual/biannual rate increases, reported that all the kids with autism may be just the result "of additional screenings." The simple and obvious fact is that THERE IS NOTHING FOR ALL THESE YOUNG ADULTS WITH AUTISM.
Any reasonable person would speculate on why there aren't services already in place. IF, as so many in the media like to tell us, there's been no real increase, WHY CAN'T YOUNG AUTISTIC ADULTS GO WHERE AUTISTIC ADULTS ARE NOW? Maynard and Khan have absolutely no interest in the autism "tsunami," as they both call it. How can this be a tsunami if one in every 68 adults with autism is already out there something--albeit labeled as something else?
And it if is a whole new disorder that has never affected a significant number of people, shouldn't we be screaming for answers? Shouldn't we desperately want to stop it?
This is NEVER mentioned in any news coverage.
So what will it take before members of the press finally wake up and honestly and thoroughly report on autism?
Will it take more children and young adults dying in pools and ponds and being shot as intruders?
This recent tragedy in Texas shows us the very real possibility of disabled adults with autism being killed as they struggle to live in a world that is totally unprepared for the "autism tsunami."
When we think of someone with autism, many of us imagine a youngster, but those youngsters grow up. The parents of adults with autism say when they act out, the world might not understand and a tragedy like the one in Austin on Monday could happen again.
Billy Tommey's mother, Polly, said she'll move heaven and earth to protect him.
"People don't understand autism," she said
But dealing with the 6'1" 18-year-old's outbursts can be difficult.
"Billy had a complete meltdown yesterday," Tommey said. "He was out on our road, pacing up and down, shouting and screaming and doing all of this."
And local stories about autism and law enforcement are out all the time.
Jan 13, 2015, Local 8, Hendersonville TN: Autistic 8 year-old boy arrested in Tennessee
A family in Hendersonville is filing a lawsuit against the Sumner County School District and the Sheriff's Office after their eight-year-old autistic son was jailed and charged with assault.
His family also claimed he was put in a restraint jacket and received injuries.
"That's something you don't ever expect to see as a parent, especially with your youngest child being treated as a criminal, it was rough, it was very, very heart breaking," said Larry Granito, the boy's father.
This eight year old who assaulted his teacher will be an adult in a few short years. So will a lot more boys just like him. By then we'll probably have whole prisons for inmates with autism. (It'll be just like all the autism schools we had to come up with because of all the affected kids out there.)
The Dachel Media Update is sponsored by Lee Silsby Compounding Pharmacy and OurKidsASD. Lee Silsby is one of the most respected compounding pharmacies in the country and is committed to serving the needs of the Autism community. OurkidsASD is an online retailer for nutritional supplements for patients with special needs. OurkidsASD carries thousands of products from more than 60 brands and offers free ground shipping on all orders.
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism and author of The Big Autism Cover-Up: How and Why the Media Is Lying to the American Public, which is on sale this Fall from Skyhorse Publishing.