While catching up on the news late last week I noticed a few site were listing their top news stories for the year. One site was asking readers to rate what was featured on their site to compile a Top Stories of 2013 list. I wish we could add our Age of Autism stories to their list because we’ve shared a great deal of important information. But, the likelihood of that happening is ridiculously low.
Instead, here’s our own recap. It includes top autism news stories and hot topics we’ve posted, talked about or shared here and on our Facebook page. (If there was a story from 2013 that you feel needs to be listed or continued to be discussed, go ahead and add it to the comments section below.)
2013--The Rates Go Up, Up, Up:
It was no surprise that the autism rates increased in 2013. Just in time for a national autism awareness campaign, the CDC reported their current rate of 1 in 50 school age children diagnosed with autism. The CDC did not update an adult autism rate, so we’re continue to look for those adults on the spectrum that mirror the same behaviors, medical problems and severe issues lots of our kids have.
As with many things Hollywood, things happen in threes. Daryl Hannah and Susan Boyle, and most recently, Dan Aykroyd, have all come out of the autism closet sharing that they have a diagnosis. I wish them well and pray that my son, Ronan, has a fraction of success these three have had. Maybe when he’s in his 50s things will turn around for him. For now, Ronan, who just turned 11, is fully dependent on others, wears diapers, is years behind in development, can’t talk and is in danger of wandering.
Come Out Come Out, Wherever You Are:
Avonte Oquendo, 14, has been missing since October 4. He was allowed to bolt out of his special school in New York City and hasn’t been seen since. Mainstream news sources in NYC are reporting on Avonte’s situation. Autism and wandering, a dangerous and sometimes deadly combination, is not uncommon. Almost half of those diagnosed with autism have a tendency to wander. While we wait for Avonte to be found, we pray he is safe and alive.
The Waiting Game:
It took almost 10 years from the first Congressional Autism Hearing (2002) to the second Hearing (2012). In preparation for another Hearing, the Canary Party shared this clip narrated by actor Rob Schneider. It illustrates the history of the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, its flaws and the negative impact vaccine injured families have faced. After the 2012 Hearing, another hearing was promised and would also be led by Darrel Issa with the VICP on the agenda. That hearing, scheduled for early December 2013, was postponed at the last minute and has yet to be rescheduled.
Lights! Camera! Whatever:
The HPV vaccine was a hot topic again this year and made several headlines both in the U.S. and abroad. It was a major discussion on the Katie Couric Show when Emily Tarsell, Rosemary Mathis and her daughter, Lauren shared their stories. Because of the controversy, dangers and deaths following the HPV vaccine, it was no surprise that a great many comments were posted after the show aired. Unfortunately, along with the controversy comes media flip flopping. Despite efforts to expose the HPV vaccine’s negative history, soon occurred after the segment aired, the mainstream news preferred we hear that the HPV vaccine only saves lives and that the adverse effects that have happened to 32,000 young women is just a coincidence.
Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York City, pushed to mandate the flu shot for all tots. His mandate became a reality when the Board of Health approved that children attending daycares and school-based programs under the age of five be vaccinated against the flu. We’re told some exemptions are still available and encourage parents to read up on that information especially if they are concerned about an adverse reaction from the vaccine.
On Death and Dying:
These are following are only a few names of those whom we remember in 2013:
Mikaela Lynch – wandered, drowned
Alyvia Navarro – wandered, drowned
Owen Black – wandered, drowned
Freddie Williams – wandered, drowned
Chandler Webb – died post flu shot vaccination
Alex Spourdalakis – murdered by his caregivers
Susan Dunne – murdered by her son
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
Will the Self-Advocates Please Stand Up?
We’ve showcased stories here that promote not just speech gains, like when a child finally learns to talk at the age of 9, but communication gains as well. Using your voice—be it through PECS, typing on a keyboard or using a communication device, is a good thing. Those who can speak up for themselves can use their voice not only for themselves but for others as well. Unfortunately, some self-advocates in the autism community either refuse to, or choose not to, see the needs of children with regressive autism. This poses major issues and skews the general public’s perception of autism as the negative side, the one my son lives, is hardly aired and often ignored. As a parent of a severely affected, non-verbal, totally dependent child, when decisions are being made in ‘the best interest of the child’ I certainly hope my child’s rights, and those of thousands of children who will soon age out of their programs, will not be taken away by the “self-advocates.”
Books We Read in 2013:
Autism Beyond the Spectrum features stories of two Age of Autism Contributing Editors: Cathy Jameson and Lisa Joyce Goes.
Finding Lina: a mother’s journey from autism to hope , written by Helena Hjalmarsson.
The Business of Baby, written by Jennifer Margulies
Movies We’re Keeping Our Eyes On:
So many more stories could be added to the few I’ve mentioned above. Many more will make their way onto the Age of Autism site and FB page in 2014. Stick around. We promise to continue to provide news that is fresh, stories that are real and topics that are as up-to-date as possible on all aspects of the autism epidemic.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.