By Anne McElroy Dachel
The story that autism hasn't increased, that the skyrocketing number of children with the disorder are nothing new is getting coverage everywhere in the media.
AP writer Mike Stobbe assures us that "many experts believe these unsociable behaviors were just about as common 30 or 40 years ago. The recent explosion of cases appears to be mostly caused by a surge in special education services for autistic children and by a corresponding shift in what doctors call autism."
I would like to ask Mike Stobbe this question: "If these kids with autism have always been here, but mislabeled as something else, then what did we do with them?"
As a parent and a teacher, I can tell you that it's very hard to miss an autistic child, even a mildly affected one. We would have had to provide help for their special needs, even if they weren't labeled "autistic." Why are our schools overwhelmed with so many children with special needs who weren't here twenty years ago?
Stobbe's baseless claim makes no sense in light of the endless waiting lists for services. Pretending that the autism epidemic isn't real is comparable to looking at the naked emperor parading down the street in Hans Christian Andersen's the Emperor's New Clothes and raving about his beautiful garments.
Mike Stobbe dismisses any real increase in affected children. His story is eagerly picked up everywhere, but he never has to prove it. If autism was just as common 30 or 40 years ago as Stobbe says, then where are all the misdiagnosed, undiagnosed adults with autism at a rate of one in 150.
Why isn't Mike Stobbe looking for them to back up his report?
Where are they living Mr. Stobbe? What are they doing? Many many parents desperate about their children's future would love to know. Show us how society has addressed their needs and accomodated them.
Until you can do that, please stop telling us that the autism epidemic isn't happening.
Anne McElroy Dachel is the mother of a son with autism spectrum disorder and dedicated advocate. She lives in Wisconsin.