By Anne Dachel
A person does not have to search far in order to be reassured by leading experts that the flood of children with all sorts of learning problems and developmental issues are nothing to worry about.
For years prominent news outlets and journals have downplayed the numbers, quoting experts for backup. Here are examples from over the last six years, including one from the BMJ just last month.
CNN, Dr. Thomas Frieden, director the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: ‘Doctors are getting better at diagnosing autism… How much of that increase is a result of better tracking and how much of it is a result of an actual increase, we still don't know.’
U.S. News, Dr. Nancy Murphy, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Council on Children with Disabilities: “The increases in these conditions may signify a greater awareness on the part of parents, teachers and health care professionals to identify children with disabilities and get them help.
“ ‘That could mean that kids that might have been dismissed as simply being "slow" or disobedient in the past may now be getting some extra help to realize their potential,’…”
New York Times, Dr. Stephen Blumberg, senior scientist, National Center for Health Statistics: ‘Our findings suggest that the increase in prevalence is due to improved recognition of autism spectrum disorders, as opposed to children with newly developed risks for them.’
Wall Street Journal, “The number of children diagnosed with autism has surged around the globe in the past two decades. But new research in Europe and the U.S. suggests much of the increase occurred on paper.”
Scientific American: “Many individuals diagnosed with autism may, in the past, have been misdiagnosed with other conditions, such as intellectual disability: As diagnoses of autism have risen, those of intellectual disability have decreased.”
British Medical Journal: “This study highlights the complexities involved in understanding changes in the reported prevalence of ASD that are likely to be multifactorial. It has provided evidence in Australia of changes in diagnostic preferences and a broadening of the spectrum and that differences in service requirements can influence prevalence estimates.”
Medpage Today: “The investigators offered some possible factors for the general increase in ADHD and autism prevalence such as: Advances in behavioral disorder classification, Efficacy of clinical and behavioral treatments for ADHD, Increase in services for children with developmental disabilities, Improvement in clinical, parental, and societal recognition of disorders.”
So while no health official can explain why so many children today have autism, no one is calling it a crisis.
By Anne Dachel
Back in April of this year USA Today published the story, Why are autism cases exploding, and what can be done? by Jerry Carino.
It was an interesting piece, unlike the vast majority of mainstream news reports that leave autism as a mystery or dismiss the numbers as merely“better diagnosing” of a condition that’s always been around.
Carino wrote: The statistics grab you by the collar.
In the early 1990s, the national diagnosis rate for autism was 1 in 10,000 children. In 2012 it was 1 in 68. In 2017 it’s 1 in 45.
That rate is even lower in New Jersey, at 1 in 41.
“When you look at those numbers, that’s [not] only a crisis, but it’s a significant issue for our society right now,” said Bret Vaks, executive director of Autism Family Services of New Jersey. ‘I’m not even certain most people are aware how significant it is’.”
Carino is off on the numbers. In 2012 it was 1 in 88. In 2014 it was one in 68 and again in 2016.