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Dachel Media Update: Autism Not REALLY on Rise - Right?

Online newsBy Anne Dachel OurKids ad 2013

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. 

July 22, 2015, Rise in Autism Partly Due to Change in Diagnostic Criteria

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.

NBC News published, Rise in Autism May Be Due to Semantics, Study Finds 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?  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 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.

Lee Silsby logo 09 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 Book CoverAnne 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.



Lisa, I also worked with children and adults who were classified as "mentally retarded" back in the early to mid eighties. It was a large institution and I'm sure that some of the adults had what we now call autism (vaccines or actual illness, in some cases, could have been causal). You need to realize, though, that some of those adults had syndromes that we have now named and understand to be something different (or epigenetics involved?)
Most of the children and adults back then in institutions had Down's Syndrome, CP, hydrocephalus, some of the poor children were there as a result of abuse. You don't seem to see near as much CP or hydrocephaly these days.

Greg@Christine D

No real autism increase? And speaking of Jim Carrey, does anyone remember his movie where the lead character's entire life was staged? I wonder how long before our boat sails into the screen.

I've been trying to no avail, can you provide a direct link to the study. Thanks, Greg

Bob Moffitt

Changing "diagnostic criteria" over years does not come even close to explaining why there are .. scientifically inexplicable .. credible estimates of between 400,000 and 500,000 children ... under the age of 21 .. at this very moment in history?

Consider .. the only thing that has consistently "changed" since 1999-2003 .. is the "plausible denial" language of public health officials .. desperate to deny the obvious drastic rise in autism .. this latest change in "diagnostic criteria" is simply an updated version of the original denial .. which at that time .. 10-12 years ago .. there was no dramatic increase in autism .. just a "broader definition and better diagnosing".

This "plausible denial" phase is very similar to the propaganda regarding Saddam's "weapons of mass destruction" that caused our nation to invade Iraq .. and .. 12 YEARS LATER .. we all know how that turned out .. not only were there no weapons found .. hundreds of thousands continue to be killed and displaced all over the middle east today.


Christina D.

I found a major mistake in their reporting of the numbers from IDEA reports to congress. In the supplemental material, Table S1, they have a breakdown of the number of students identified under IDEA, 2000-2010. They made an error in the Developmental Delay (DD) category: seems they divided by 10, for some reason. For instance, in 2001, they have 24231 DD students, when it should have been 242,314. In 2002, they have 28353 DD students when it was actually 283527. Consequently, their total IDEA students for each year is off - a lot! Also, in 2000, DD had 177,930 (not 24,231)students in the 50 states (D.C. and Puerto Rico). In 2010, DD had 381,050 (not 38,188).

Anyway, this messes up their yearly student totals, which then leads them to the assumption that "there was no significant change in the overall proportion of children in special education."

And finally, they combine the "neurodevelopmental phenotype" disabilities, but don't include Developmental Delay, and discuss Autism + Intellectual Disability + Specific Learning Disability + Other Health Impairments: "combined prevalence of ASD+ID+SLD+OHI does not show a significant increase" from 2010 - see supplemental Figure S2. Basically, they are trying to prove that there hasn't been any changes in the total "neurodevelopmental" disorders over the 10 years, so any individual changes are due to diagnostic swapping. They conveniently left out Developmental Delay, which is very much a "neurodevelopmental" disorder.

Anyway, I just looked at the report today, and this jumped out at me. There is a basic flaw in their logic - very sloppy.

Lisa Annis

I took care of adult autistics moved from state hospitals to group homes in the mid-80s. Their agss ranged from 38 to 72.


Nah… autism isn't REALLY on the rise among vaccinated children.

And neither is juvenile diabetes, or juvenile arthritis, or juvenile leukaemia, or asthma, or PANDAS , or paediatric MS, or life threatening peanut allergies…..

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