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.
In 2014 the big announcement was another stunning increase in the autism rate, now at one in every 68 children, one in every 42 boys. Officials were quick to tell us that THIS INCREASE might not show a REAL INCREASE in autism; it might only be better discernment of children with the disorder. (Actually, in past years, along with every increase announcement, officials had routinely said the same thing.)
The rate of one in every 68 children is based on studies of children born in 2002. Those kids are teenagers now. We can only imagine what the current levels might be. The problem is that our health officials have no time for autism. They have long made excuses for the rising numbers, and they've been happy to leave autism as a medical curiosity we have all the time in the world to figure out.
Last year I interviewed Dr. Stephanie Seneff, a professor at MIT, who predicted that the U.S. autism rate would be one in every two children by 2025.
We're not supposed to worry about any of this. We're supposed to keep in mind that what we call autism has always been around, we just called it something else. In fact a new study just out from Penn State says the same thing.
July 23, 2015, Forbes: Increase In Autism Diagnoses Not An Increase In Autism by Emily Willingham
In news that probably surprised no one who’s been paying attention, a study out of Penn State shows that almost all of the increase in US autism diagnoses over the first decade of this century is the result of reclassification. Specifically, reclassification of children with intellectual disabilities as being autistic, instead.
Ms Willingham is sure autism is nothing new. And she's sure there is no link to our ever-increasing vaccination schedule. (She included a link to another recent story where she criticized environmental attorney Robert Kennedy Jr for not knowing the science on vaccines.)
In light of all this, what's really confusing is a study just out from one of the top research centers for autism, UC Davis. It's about the COST OF AUTISM. It's exploding and there's no end in sight. Paul Leigh, study senior author, seems to be totally at odds with the researchers from Penn State. He's very worried.
July 29, 2015, High Cost of Autism to California
The incidence and societal cost of autism has risen dramatically in recent years and will cost California about $40 billion in 2015, according to study results released on Tuesday by researchers at UC-Davis.
Nationally, the costs associated with the disease could rise to $1 trillion by 2025, researchers said.
"If the prevalence rates continue the way they've risen in the past 10 or 15 years, then I would say by 2025 they'll rival or exceed heart disease [in terms of economic cost to society]," said Paul Leigh, study senior author and economics researcher with the Center for Healthcare Policy and Research at UC-Davis.
If prevalence rates even out a bit, as Leigh suspects they will, the study still offers its conservative national estimate for autism cost this year at $268 billion and in 2025 at $461 billion.
July 28, 2015, CBS San Francisco: UC Davis Study Says Autism Care Costs Could Skyrocket By 2025, More Research Funding Needed
July 28, 2015, Science Daily: Autism costs estimated to reach nearly $500 billion, potentially $1 trillion, by 2025
Researchers recommend broader access to early intervention, employment support
UC Davis health economists have for the first time projected the total costs of caring for all people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the U.S. for the current calendar year and in 10 years if effective interventions and preventive treatments for the condition are not identified and widely available.
Their forecasts for ASD-related medical, nonmedical and productivity losses are $268 billion for 2015 and $461 billion for 2025. The researchers noted that these estimates are conservative and, if ASD prevalence continues to increase as it has in recent years, the costs could reach $1 trillion by 2025.
Leigh and his team at UC-Davis are urging NIH to spend much more on autism research.
Many of us in the autism community can only wonder what that research would entail. So far millions of dollars have gone into dead-end science. There's been the relentless and fruitless search for the genetic cause of autism. Besides bad genes, experts like to associate the habits of mothers with the developmental of autism: old moms, young moms, fat moms, moms who have C-sections, drinking moms, smoking moms, moms who have babies too close together, moms who marry old dads, moms who live too close to freeways.
What the UC-Davis scientists need to do is tell us why this is a problem. We can't have one university telling us there is no problem and on the other side of the country, another prestigious institution is sounding an alarm over autism.
Yes, we do need the science, but it has to be legitimate research.
WHERE ARE THE ADULTS? Someone has to finally look at the autism rate in older Americans and see if it's the same as we see in eight year olds.
WHERE IS THE VACCINATED/UNVACCINATED STUDY? This and only this will show us that there is no link.
WHERE IS THE STUDY OF THE CHILDREN WHO REGRESSED? If 30 percent of autistic children started out fine and inexplicably lost learned skills and regressed into autism, we need to study them to figure out why it happened.
Five years ago I wrote this piece on the soaring numbers of autistic Americans being reported around the country.
One really troubling report came from the California State Senate Autism Committee in 2009:
"There were "14,000 students with autism a decade ago.” Today, “46,000 students and growing."
(One can only imagine how many students with autism there are today in California.)
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.