We've tried celebrating it, calling it "neurodiversity," attributing it to "greater awareness," making the world "autism friendly"--anything to pretend that a debilitating neurological condition that overwhelmingly affects children is nothing to worry about.
I've long thought that this normalizing of autism will continue until the numbers simply bury us.
The Sacramento Bee just announced that there are 97,000 students in California schools who are autistic.
Six months ago the Bee said there were 90,000 students with autism.
In 2009, seven years ago, there were officially 46,000 students with autism in California.
In 1999, there were 14,000 autistic student in California schools.
(And please don't attribute this to an "expanded definition." Asperger's, wider diagnosis happened with the DSM-IV in 1994. That couldn't possibly explain why these numbers show no sign of leveling out.)
The same state government that when into panic mode over a few cases of measles and ended personal exemptions from vaccines--something countless parents blame for their children's autism--is silent on all the disabled kids in their schools.
Parent Herald had two stories about the California autism numbers on July 20. This first one here is a little disingenuous. From the sound of the headline, only 6,500 students have autism in California, and in truth the "jump" wasn't in recent years. During only the last six months the number of ASD kids INCREASED by 7,000 to 97,000 students.
We've gone from asking....
Do you know an autistic child?, to Do you have an autistic child?, to eventually, Which of your children has autism?
In the second story below, rates are merely "increasing," and yet there's a "wake up call to the world." Reporter Lani Lane talks about autism as a curiosity we have all the time in the world to figure out. Yes, she says there are 97,000 ASD students in state schools. Yes, the highest percentage are in kindergarten.
So what are doing about it? According to Lane, the National Council for Special Education has pledged 3 million dollars "to shoulder some of the expenses of children with autism." Lane also said that the U.S. Senate had just passed a bill that "could help individuals that are diagnosed with the disorder."
Actually none of this makes any sense. Neither Parent Herald article mentions a cause for more and more children ending up with autism in California. Neither article talks about all the autism as a real problem.
Finch's articles made one baffling claim: "Researchers from the University of California found that there's a link between autism and education. They believe that highly educated parents' access to services contributes to autism findings."
By Samantha Finch
More children are being diagnosed with autism in California. Latest special education data from the California Department of Education found that there's a seven percent increase in autistic children in recent years.
…The highest number of autistic children that occurred last year was among kindergartners, rising by 17 percent. At the moment, more than one of every 65 kindergarten pupils in California is autistic.
Chemicals that may increase autism risk are pesticides, mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls, lead, and brominated flame retardants. These are all neurodevelopmental toxicants, which have the capacity to alter a brain's development.
July 20, 2016, Parent Herald: Autism Rates Are Increasing , A Wake Up Call to the World
By Lani Lane
Autism is considered one of the disorders that people don't know much about. One of the reasons is that only a few actually want to know more about it, thinking that the disorder wouldn't cost any risk of impending danger in a human's life. With the increasing number of those who are diagnosed with the disorder, people are now finally eager to understand it.
The California Department of Education has recently gathered special education data, which showed that "the number of students diagnosed with autism has dramatically increased since 2001", as posted in Sacbee. According to the data gathered, about 97,000 public school students, most of them were in kindergarten, were diagnosed with autism. The 2006 records also showed that about 5,000 to 7,000 cases of children with autism have increased every year.
I looked at California newspapers to see how much coverage the latest increase in the California autism numbers got and the only place I could find it was in the LA Times. It was item #15 on a list of current news reports. The Times cited the Sacramento Bee story. 97,000 students with autism in Cal schools, a disorder that has no known cause.
More cases: The number of children with autism in California’s public school systems has increased sevenfold since 2001. That’s about 97,000 students. Officials say the jump can be attributed to better screenings, a broader definition of the autism spectrum and more children being born with the condition. Sacramento Bee
If you're wondering how the press can cover up what's happening to our children like this, the simple truth is, they have no choice. Just like health officials who've downplayed every increase in the autism rate, wasted millions of dollars on dead-end studies, and lately even falsifying data (see the story about the Utah whistleblower who accused her bosses of producing phony autism numbers to change the rate from one in 47 to only one in 58) , the media has published all the lies. There isn't a major paper or network that hasn't vilified Andrew Wakefield over the MMR, defended mercury in vaccines as safe, and dismissed our children as merely the benefactors of "better diagnosing," and endlessly reassured us that there is nothing to worry about.
Instead, the numbers are irrelevant and the cause is a curiosity. It's an absolute necessity that we have a month-long celebration of autism every April and invest time and money in a counterproductive committee like IAAC. We have to look like we care about the disabled (something I guess we never did before all the "greater awareness"), and make the world "autism-friendly."
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism.