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.
Whenever the issues of vaccine safety and the link to neurological damage in children becomes really heated like it is today with the push to end exemptions and the circulation of reports of a whistleblower within the vaccine division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there's suddenly the appearance of a study to downplay the autism epidemic. Either there'll be the discovery of something that could be associated with the development of autism OR findings that seem to disprove any epidemic increase in the number of affected children. As expected, new research has just been announced that once again seems to disprove the idea that autism is on the rise.
The timing is amazing.
Cases of autism, as the figures show, are on the rise, puzzling many as to why this developmental disorder now affects one in every 68 children.
Some believe the higher rates are related to vaccines, although studies show that is not the case. Other signs point to genetics and other factors.
But new research says the three-fold increase of autism cases is because of how diagnostic criteria has changed over the years.
The evidence, they say, is that children in special education classes are being diagnosed with autism more and other developmental disorders less.
I noticed that the claim "rise in autism PARTLY due to change in diagnostic criteria" in the first press release quickly became "autism is not rising" on Yahoo News. http://news.yahoo.com/first-direct-evidence-autism-not-rising-172327400.html
NBC News published, Rise in Autism May Be Due to Semantics, Study Finds http://www.nbcnews.com/health/kids-health/rise-autism-may-be-down-semantics-study-finds-n396711 by Maggie Fox (a long time denier that vaccines cause autism) on July 22. This was her opening sentence: "A new study suggests the idea that more kids are being diagnosed with autism not because something catastrophic has happened to U.S. children, but rather because they're simply being classified and diagnosed differently."
Also on July 22, was a piece from the American Assoc. for the Advancement of Science, a site with a lot of connections to the pharmaceutical industry called, Autism rates are up, but is the disease really on the rise? http://news.sciencemag.org/health/2015/07/autism-rates-are-disease-really-rise Of course the answer was "no," there only appears to be more kids with autism everywhere.
The number of U.S. school children placed in special education programs due to autism more than tripled from 2000 to 2010, to nearly 420,000. But a new study argues much of that increase likely came as educators swapped one diagnosis for another. The overall percentage of kids diagnosed with a collection of brain development problems that includes autism remained unchanged, suggesting that children who used to be labeled with conditions such as "intellectual disability" were in fact autistic.
"If you asked me, 'Is there a real increase in the prevalence of autism?' maybe there is, but probably much lower than the reported magnitude," says Santhosh Girirajan, a geneticist at Pennsylvania State University (Penn State), University Park.
. . . The findings, reported today in the American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics, underscore the growing acceptance within institutions and families of a condition once either ignored or avoided as a mark of shame, says Roy Richard Grinker, an anthropologist at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., who has studied autism rates and wrote a book about autism, Unstrange Minds. He points to a recent Washington Post article about the emergence of groups of autistic adults advocating for acceptance through events like "Autistic Pride Day."
"What this paper is saying is that autism is increasingly being embraced as a useful, acceptable, less stigmatizing framework," says Grinker, who has an autistic daughter.
So the message seems to be that although autism's cause may be mystery, it's always been here--we just called it something else. No one is worried about the numbers; we can explain them.
At the end of this report, one expert hints that greater awareness may not explain all of the autism increase----but no one cares. It's part of the mystery. What is important is making autism into a non-issue.
Roy Grinker and researcher Santhosh Girirajan need to answer my questions:
WHERE ARE THE ADULTS?
Where are the hand-flapping, head-banging, nonverbal autistic adults in adults?
Where are the adults who started out as normally developing babies and toddlers and then suddenly and inexplicably lost learned skills and regressed into autism?
Playing with the numbers in epidemiological studies proves nothing.
Why do teachers, law enforcement, and first responders all have to be taught how to deal with autistic people?
If autism has always been here, albeit called something else, we'd already know how to deal with those with ASD.
Why do we now have classrooms and even whole schools dedicated to children with autism?
How could we have neglected this significant disabled population until recent years?
Why is the rate always based on studies of eight year old children, not eighty year old adults?
Let's have some reasonable answers.
This was expected.
The REALLY BIG LIE ABOUT AUTISM has always been that autism hasn't increased. If there's nothing wrong with the health of our children, then autism can remain a medical curiosity we have all the time in the world to figure out. Vaccine schedule changes haven't affected the rate.
Thimerosal can come and go in vaccines---it makes no difference. The earlier the MMR vaccine, the better, it isn't a factor in autism.
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.