By Anne Dachel
I recently wrote this about the IACC meeting on July 10, 2012. HERE
I included the comments from Chief Science Officer at Autism Speaks, Dr. Geraldine Dawson. She gave a very critical report on the state of autism in American.
If you look over the last several years, things have gotten worse. The prevalence has increased. In terms of treatments, we still don't have effective treatments. There's two FDA approved medical treatments, and they're not for core autism symptoms. The age of diagnosis, the median age in the last CDC report was four years for autism and six years for Asperger's Syndrome, and yet know that the age in which kids can be reliably diagnosed is 18-24 months. Kids don't have access to early intervention. We have seen the costs of autism increase from $35 billion annually to $137 billion annually and we know that the adults, who are moving from adolescence to adulthood are unemployed and socially isolated and they're facing tremendous health problems-heart disease, obesity, and other health problems. So I think that the frustration here is that we've all earnestly worked together to identify the priorities, but there is this real sense that things are not changing and that the government is not recognizing autism as a true public health crisis and emergency that needs some kind of national plan and top-down coordinated strategy, people working everyday to address what has become this true public health crisis. We hope that we can change this culture from one of an academic exercise to one where we can start seeing these real issues that I've just outlined, changed over the next course of our work together. So I hope that you can hear that and many of us express that.
I was impressed. Maybe this national figure was waking up to the autism nightmare. Maybe she was going to start to demand answers and work to honestly and resolutely to stop the epidemic and recover our disabled children. Maybe..
Well, forget that possibility. I found this interview from Tuesday, August 7, 2012.
It was on the Autism Speaks website and this was the text next to the video:
"Geraldine Dawson, CSO of Autism Speaks, sits down with Kate to discuss her relationship with the organization and how they are helping to change the future for all who struggle with autism spectrum disorders."
This was the gist of it.
DAWSON: "Many many years ago, one of my first cases was a child with autism. At that point we knew almost nothing about the causes. We had no treatments. I decided to devote my entire career to autism. I had no idea at that point that autism would become such a public health crisis. It was very rare at that time. So really everything has changed. .
"It is staggering. It is a major health crisis and honestly, we're not prepared to deal with it."
INTERVIEWER: "Are we getting any closer?"
DAWSON:" We actually are. In the last five years, there have been a number of breakthroughs, in fact, I'd say I've never been more excited in terms of where we are in autism science.
"For one thing, we're now able to diagnose autism very early in life. We can pick up on the signs of autism in a young baby and this allows us to begin intervention very early.."
"We're now learning more about the actual brain pathways that are involved in autism and we're trying to develop medicines that would restore those pathways, so this is very exciting. This is not going to happen overnight. ."
INTERVIEWER: "Let's talk a little about genetics, environmental, inoculations---because there's a lot of stuff swirling around those issues."
DAWSON: "We know that genes are involved. There is most likely some type of genetic susceptibility. Those genetic factors then interact with environmental factors."
What happened to the Geraldine Dawson who spoke at IACC a month ago? Although she used the term, "public health crisis," she didn't talk about an emergency like she did on July 10th. She didn't go on about the need for a national plan. She went from "things are not changing" to "I've never been more excited in terms of where we are in autism science."
And why did Dawson acknowledge the role of the environment but completely ignore the question she was asked about inoculations?
Geraldine Dawson is like an officer on the Titanic who knows the ship is sinking because they hit an ice berg, but who is unwilling to sound an alarm because she also knows there aren't enough life boats for all the passengers.
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism. You can subscribe to her news site at AnneDachel.com.