By Anne Dachel
Read Anne's commentary and view the links after the jump. The Dachel Media Update is sponsored by Lee Silsby Compounding Pharmacy and OurKidsASD, an online supplement retailer for patients with special needs.
April 16, 2015, CBS News: The most promising areas of autism research
April 16, 2015, CNN: Robert Kennedy Jr.'s strange remarks on autism
April 16, 2015, WBUR Boston: Stark Realities Of Autistic Adulthood
April 15, 2015, NPR: Some Doctors Still Dismiss Parents' Concerns About Autism
April 15, 2015, Miami Local 10: Autism now fastest growing developmental disorder in US
April 15, 2015, Los Angeles KABC-TV: Thousands expected at Walk Now for Autism Speaks at Rose Bowl
April 15, 2015, ABC 6 Philadelphia: Dealing with expected wave of young adults with autism
April 15, 2015, Fox News: Father's sperm may point to child's autism risk, study finds
April 14, 2015, USA Today: Gestational diabetes increases autism risk
April 14, 2015, USA Today: Study links pollution to autism, schizophrenia
Researchers have been making tremendous progress in their efforts to understand the causes of autism, as well as which interventions may be most effective to help children with the disorder thrive.
This work is especially critical as the number of children in the U.S. with autism grows. Approximately 1 in 68 children in the U.S. currently has autism, an increase of nearly 30 percent in recent years -- at least partly due to greater awareness and improved diagnostics.
Experts in the field say there are a number of areas of research that could potentially change the lives of millions of families. Here are a few that are showing significant progress -- and promise.
Identifying gender differences...
Recently, Robert Kennedy Jr. was in Sacramento, California, to campaign against Senate Bill 227, which makes it harder for parents to opt out of vaccinations. In his remarks at an anti-vaccination movie screening, he decided to compare "vaccine-induced" autism to the Holocaust. He said, "They get the shot, that night they have a fever of a hundred and three, they go to sleep, and three months later their brain is gone," Kennedy said. "This is a holocaust, what this is doing to our country."
A few days later, he apologized to people who were outraged on behalf of the memory of the Holocaust. To many, it's sacrilege to compare any lesser issue to the horrors perpetrated by the Nazis.
You don't outgrow autism. But a wave of autistic children is growing into adulthood. What's going to happen then?
As long as they're in school, young Americans on the Autism spectrum - and there are more and more of those - have a fair amount of support. Programs. Special education. People engaged with them, and for them to engage with in return. But when school ends, that support ends. And these young adult autistic Americans, and their families, are pretty much on their own. Some, of course, can work and build fairly independent lives. Others cannot. For them, and their families, it can be an overwhelming moment. This hour On Point: a new report looks at "aging out" of America's autism support system, and into a very challenging adulthood.
Most children with autism get diagnosed around age 5, when they start school. But signs of the developmental disorder may be seen as early as 1 year old.
Yet even if a parent notices problems making eye contact or other early signs of autism, some doctors still dismiss those concerns, a study finds, saying the child will "grow out of it." That can delay diagnosis and a child's access to therapy.
"Autism should be something that primary care pediatricians are really comfortable with, like asthma or ADHD, but it's not," says lead researcher Katharine Zuckerman, a pediatrician at Oregon Health & Science University, whose study was published Tuesday in The Journal of Pediatrics. "If you see a general pediatrician like me, I can't actually diagnose your child with autism."
Autism now affects one out of every 68 children in the United States, and South Florida families are raising money to find better treatment.
We're told about a walk to raise money for Autism Speaks, "A group dedicated to funding research into causes, prevention and treatment of autism.
Ari Greenburg is one of many who will walk in Pasadena for Walk Now for Autism Speaks to beat the disorder.
They've already raised over $600,000 already for this year's event.
Ari Greenburg is walking at the Walk Now for Autism Speaks, a 5K event held at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.
Ari's "Team Green Bean" has raised $628,148, the most out of all the walks going on across the country.
VIDEO: "The number of children diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum has grown in the past 10 to 15 years. Now those children, as they move into adolescence and young adulthood creates a new challenge across the country. . . ."
ABC 6 then shows as a young college student with Asperger's Syndrome. Reporter: "The Philadelphia Autism Project's recent report estimates that in Pennsylvania alone 20,000 autistic children will become adults be 2020. WHile there's a stron network for young children, support for older teens and young adults is still in the works."
"There are huge gaps in services between what is needed and what's available."
While some research suggests that autism contains a genetic link, most instances of the disorder remain unexplained. But now, researchers at Johns Hopkins University say predicting whether a child will develop autism may be as simple as testing paternal sperm.
In a small study, published online Wednesday in the journal International Journal of Epidemiology, researchers searched for a possible association between the disorder and a father's epigenetic tags, which help regulate genes' activity. Doctors can detect epigenetic changes by testing sperm.
Children are slightly more likely to develop autism if their mothers were diagnosed with diabetes early in pregnancy, a new study shows.
Women newly diagnosed with diabetes by the 26th week of pregnancy were 42% more likely to have a child diagnosed with autism, according to the study of more than 322,000 children born between 1995 and 2009.
Overall, about 1% of all children in the study were diagnosed with autism by a median age of age 5½. Having gestational diabetes, the kind diagnosed during pregnancy, increased the chance of having a child with autism to 1.4%. . . .
. . . Pregnant women also are more likely to have children with autism if they don't get enough folic acid, if they're exposed to pollution or if they take the anti-seizure drug valproic acid, research shows.
Tiny bits of air pollution may irritate very young brains enough to cause problems, according to a study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
When mice younger than 2 weeks old were exposed to very small particles of pollutants, their brains showed damage that is consistent with brain changes in humans with autism and schizophrenia. That's not to say air pollution causes either one, said Deborah Cory-Slechta, professor of environmental medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center and lead researcher in the study published Friday.
Other studies have found an increased risk of autism in children who were born prematurely or very small, or who were born less than one year after an older sibling. Older mothers and older fathers are also at higher risk of having children with autism.
Genetics plays a major role too, Wang says. About 15% to 20% of people with autism have a known genetic mutation that causes the condition. If one child in a family has autism, subsequent children have about a 20% chance of also having autism, Wang says.
>What this all means:
It's hard to imagine HOW something like autism could suddenly appear as a disability and in the span of 25 years be ravaging our children while doctors, health officials and the media remain clueless and at the same time unconcerned.
The explanation is simple: "It's difficult to get a man to understand something if his salary depends on his not understanding it." Upton Sinclair (Actually, an email friend sent me that this morning.) No official, mainstream doctor or reporter wants to be remembered as the person who sounded an alarm over autism. This disaster is unparalleled in our history. The economic/social consequences are too scary to even consider. The only avenue left open for any of these groups is to cover up autism as an epidemic, show concern--but no real worry, and pretend that everything that can be done is being done.
Here's what the media has been saying about autism over the last couple of days....(SEE STORIES BELOW.) .....numbers don't matter, ....no one can tell us why autism is the "fastest growing developmental disorder," ...raising money for Autism Speaks will get us answers,
...yes, hundreds of thousands of autistic children will be aging out of school and there are no program for them, but they're doing quite well in college, and no one is worried, ...despite all the better diagnosing, many doctors still don't recognize the disorder, ...we don't use words like "holocaust' to describe autism--"mystery" and "puzzle" are the acceptable terms, ...answers?
No one will ever admit any CAUSE for autism beyond bad genes. We do have a lot of guesses--things associated with autism. The latest research just out links autism to: AIR POLLUTION, DADS WITH OLD SPERM, GESTATIONAL DIABETES (The real news is that these are OLD CLAIMS that have been around for years.
No problem, it's always good to fund more studies to repeat the old findings as new.) Add to that all the MOM CAUSES: fat moms, old moms, smoking moms, drinking moms, moms who deliver early, moms having babies too close together, moms who don't get enough folic acid. Officials learned the lesson of the "refrigerator mother"---blame the genes or lifestyle of the parents.
The failure to do anything about a disaster enfolding across the country will eventually lead to masses of disabled left on the doorsteps of local welfare agencies. More of the mystery of autism. Perhaps a walk to raise awareness............. Autism now fastest growing developmental disorder in US Local 10 Thousands expected at Walk Now for Autism Speaks at Rose Bowl KABC-TV-
The Dachel Media Update is sponsored by Lee Silsby Compounding Pharmacy and OurKidsASD. Lee Silsby is one of the most respected compounding pharmacies in the country and is committed to serving the needs of the Autism community. OurkidsASD is an online retailer for nutritional supplements for patients with special needs. OurkidsASD carries thousands of products from more than 60 brands and offers free ground shipping on all orders.
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism and author of The Big Autism Cover-Up: How and Why the Media Is Lying to the American Public, which is on sale now from Skyhorse Publishing.