Managing Editor's Note: I'd like to thank Joanne Chen of Parade Magazine for her thoughful interviews and careful consideration of our family in the Parade Magazine online piece HERE. Also, our good friend Dan Burns and his son were featured HERE. Please go comment. There are many commenters saying "Autistics are not defective!" who clearly can not see that many of our children are severely impaired and while that doesn't have to imply "defective" it certainly means requiring a lifetime of care. Please go add your personal story at Autism's Lost Generation in Parade Magazine.
By Anne Dachel
The Sunday Parade Magazine had the story, Autism Lost Generation--Who will care for Dana? on Mar 3. (HERE) It focused on the critical need for services for young adults with autism in the U.S. This need will get worse. The autism tsumani is coming and sounding the alarm is long overdue.
Parade says, "These issues are not going away, because the number of autistic adults will only continue to increase: Today, one in 110 children (and one in 70 boys) born in the U.S. is diagnosed with autism, and the numbers have been rising 10% to 17% a year."
We need some explanation for this exponential increase. It can't be denied that a once-rare disorder is claiming a generation of our children and no official can tell us why. Some claim that there's been no real increase in autism, just better diagnosing and an expanded definition of autism. If there were true, there'd be no crisis. Young adults with autism would simply go to where these adults have always gone. Even if they weren't called autistic, they would have required adults services for their special needs. The truth is, no one has ever found adults with autism at rates even remotely close to what we see in our children.
Notice they still use the $3.2 million for lifetime care. That's from Michael's Ganz's Harvard study done in 2006. I contacted Ganz back then, and he told me the numbers were "conservative." Others put lifetime care cost at between $5 million and $10 million for each individual.
Until we address the cause of autism and stop the epidemic, the situation will only grow more desperate.
Recently, the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee created by Congress to deal with autism presented their 2011 Strategic Plan: HERE in which they call autism "a national health emergency."
The IACC is asking: "Why has there been such an increase in prevalence? What can be done to reverse this alarming trend? How can we improve the outcomes of people already affected, including youth and adults?"
The IACC is still looking for answers. So why aren't officials expressing alarm over autism with press conferences and news interviews? Dr. Thomas Insel head of the IACC has talked about the fact that 80 percent of Americans with autism are under the age of 18 and that we need to prepare for a million adults with autism "who may be in need of significant services." This seems to be the kind of "national health emergency" that no one wants to bring to the attention of the public.
Anne Dachel, Media editor: Age of Autism