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.
Some advocates are deeply skeptical of this point of view and still wholeheartedly endorse the “autism epidemic” thesis. Writer Anne Dachel, of Age of Autism, wrote in response to the kind of research I’ve been citing:
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.
She argues that it’s just obvious that more children are around today with the symptoms of autism than ever before. But that’s actually very hard to figure out, given that diagnostic criteria change, many problems have been historically ignored or unrecorded, and individuals with diverse intellectual and behavioral challenges have often been lumped together. What we need is rigorous, analytical research, and what we have suggests that there’s little evidence for an “autism epidemic.” (Dachel also appears to subscribe to the thoroughly debunked belief that vaccines cause autism.)
First of all, everything in this article is designed to downplay autism and leave it a permanent mystery we just can't figure out, while assuring us that autism is nothing to worry about. It seems that autism has all the urgency of finding Big Foot, or exploring black holes in outer space--a curiosity, not a crisis.
Cody Fenwick goes after those who would say that autism has become a modern day epidemic, namely Age of Autism and more specifically, Anne Dachel. According to him, all the autism is just diagnostic substitution--in other words, these people like this have always been around, we just called them something else.
Fenwick uses term like "mental health diagnoses," "mental illnesses," "mental health services" when discussing autism, which is proof that he is completely out of touch with what autism is doing to our children.
Fenwick quotes me asking where all the adults are who display the same symptoms of autism that our children do, and he never answers the question: WHERE ARE THE AUTISTIC ADULTS? Fenwick argues that they're out there and that autism is such a diverse condition.
So what? WHERE ARE THE ADULTS WITH CLASSIC AUTISM? I've worked with these children for years. I can pick them out in the mall or in an airport. I don't see 40, 50 and 60 year olds doing what our children are doing.
The truth is, IF these adults were really out there, CNN's Anderson Cooper would be parading them on the news for all the world to see. The problem is, NO ONE HAS EVER BEEN ABLE TO SHOW US A SIGNIFICANT POPULATION OF ADULTS WITH AUTISM---ESPECIALLY ADULTS WITH CLASSIC AUTISM, WHOSE SYMPTOMS WOULD BE EASY TO RECOGNIZE.
Every parent I've talked to is most afraid about the future for their autistic child. After high school these kids are set adrift in a system that has nothing for them. Programs for people who have what was called "mental retardation," don’t apply to people with autism. Autism is a disorder with a specific set of symptoms affecting social behavior and communication skills.
In addition, Fenwick can't explain regressive autism, why the rate continues to increase despite the fact that Asperger's Syndrome was added to the DSM in 1994, or why we have to train police, EMTs, teachers, and social workers so they can deal with affected individuals.
If autism has always been here, just called something else, we'd be used to people like this.
The autism rate is ALWAYS based on studies of children, most often eight year olds. That should tell us something. Officials know that this rate doesn't apply to Americans across the population.
And as for the comment, "(Dachel also appears to subscribe to the thoroughly debunked belief that vaccines cause autism)," Fenwick is wrong on that too. In 2008 medical experts at HHS conceded that case of Hannah Poling, the Georgia girl who was vaccinated for nine illnesses in a single doctor's visit and had a vaccine reaction. That reaction caused a number of health problems, including regressive autism. Her father, Dr. Jon Poling, appeared on CNN and made it clear that the U.S. government agreed that Hannah's autism was caused by her vaccines.
The pretense that there is no link between vaccines and autism, and that autism has always been a condition affecting two percent of the population are what I call, "The Really Big Lies About Autism."
Meanwhile a generation of disabled children is on the verge of adulthood with nowhere to go. According to Fenwick, that shouldn't be happening. Please, Cody Fenwick, show us where all the autistic adults in their 40s, 60s, and 80s are living and working. Thousands and thousands of parents desperately want to know.
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.