By Anne Dachel
This is the frightening future for the coming generation(s) of autistic children in America: DENIAL.
Anyone who reads the Feb 20, 2019 piece in The Atlantic entitled,The Coming Care Crisis as Kids With Autism Grow Up—The number of adults with autism diagnoses is soaring, but there aren’t enough programs and services to meet the demand, by writer and doctoral candidate Noah Remnick, will understand that members of the press just don’t care.
First of all, the “crisis” Remnick sees when it comes to autism is the lack of services for adults. AUTISM itself is not a crisis, in fact Remnick assures us that autism has always been here, we just didn’t notice.
Although people with autism have always existed, the United States saw a tremendous spike in diagnoses beginning in the late 1990s, due in part to increased public awareness of the disorder and improvements in evaluation.
How is that possible? How could educators, parents, and doctors over many past generations never have recognized the collective signs and symptoms of autism? Why have schools during the last twenty years had to train teachers to deal with autistic students? (We’ve had disabled children in school by federal law for the past 45 years.)
Remnick acknowledges that the explosion in autism among children began in the last 90s, yet the statistics he cites to compare are from AFTER THE 1990s.
About one in every 59 children is diagnosed with autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up from one in every 150 in 2000.
Sadly Remnick shows no interest in the middle aged and elderly people with autism he claims exist in America. WHERE ARE THE THIRTY, FIFTY, AND SEVENTY YEAR OLDS WITH AUTISM? Why can’t young adults today simply replace them in their living conditions?
That is the logical response one should have for anyone who asserts that “people with autism have always existed.” I would expect a middle school student to ask the questions I just posed. Somehow a doctoral student at Oxford doesn’t. His implication is AMERICA HAS A APPALLING HISTORY OF IGNORING ADULTS WITH AUTISM. They’re out there somewhere left to their own devices as people living in the shadows.
Remnick writes, “About half a million people on the autism spectrum will legally become adults over the next decade, a swelling tide for which the country is unprepared. When they turn 21, these people leave behind all the programming and funding they received under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act and enter a labyrinth of government services that vary wildly from state to state. Although people with other disabilities face similar problems, the staggering rise in diagnoses of autism creates a distinctly troubling dilemma in how to ensure that these people are properly cared for.”
Remnick continues, “Amid this surge in diagnoses, many programs for people with autism are overcrowded and ill-equipped to handle the needs of their clients.”
AGAIN, Remnick asks us to leave logical thinking at the door. IF “the staggering rise in diagnoses of autism” is behind the“swelling tide for which the country is unprepared,” LET’S STOP CALLING IT AUTISM.
If the word AUTISM is the issue, we should go back to whatever we used to label the disorder. Problem solved.
What Noah Remnick reports on is an undeniable truth: America is facing a future of hundreds of thousands of dependent adults who aren’t here currently in any comparable numbers, only he doesn’t see this as the issue. He alludes to adults out there currently, but he fails to tell us that he’s talking about people in their twenties and early thirties.
What happens when people with autism age into adulthood remains understudied. Researchers predominantly focus on early intervention—less than 2 percent of all autism funding is directed to the experience of adulthood and aging—even though people with autism spend a vastly greater proportion of their life as adults. The existing findings are dismaying. About half of adults with autism continue to grapple with aggressive, self-injurious behaviors as they get older, and about half are also unemployed—the lowest employment rate among disability groups. Especially for those with greater challenges, it is more difficult to attain the basics necessary to live a comfortable life: housing, job training, and social opportunities.
To back up his disjointed claims, he cites an expert in the field, Dr. Paul Shattuck.
“It’s as though we never really considered the fact that all of these kids would eventually grow up,” says Paul Shattuck, a professor at Drexel University who studies autism. “Even compared to those with other disabilities, kids on the autism spectrum are having much worse long-term outcomes.”
Shattuck is someone familiar to parents active in the autism community. Nine years ago, autism advocate Katie Wright cited his denial that autism is a modern day epidemic. l She wrote about Shattuck’s appearance at a CDC meeting on autism prevalence: “Dr. Paul Shattuck and Dr. Peter Bearman gave their usual stump speeches about why the ASD increase is mainly due to greater awareness and parental age.” (At that same meeting there were scientists who were clear that there has been a real explosion in autism among children and it has nothing to do with better diagnosing, but Remnick clearly isn’t interested in their challenging views.)
Incredibly Remnick said he’d followed a family whose autistic son is aging out of school FOR MORE THAN A YEAR. He wrote about the enormous costs involved in providing adult services and the lack of appropriate resources.
The Solomoniks’ struggle to find a program for Anthony is mirrored in families and communities across the country. As the number of adults with autism surges, and as the research lags about how to help them achieve meaningful lives, the availability of affordable, quality programs cannot match the demand. The number of nonprofit programs like ELIJA that offer services tailored to people with autism, such as specialized job coaches, has recently increased. But even the most well-intentioned programs lack research—and therefore clarity—on how to best serve a population so diverse and so deprived. …
We’re left to ponder the facts presented here. Autism has always affected two percent of the human race, but we didn’t know what it was or address it until the last couple of decades. We have a long way to go, and it’s going to incur a big cost.
I’m sorry, but I’m sick of this kind of sloppy, illogical gibberish from the press. Members of the media have collectively turned their backs on the destruction of children around the world. And it isn’t just autism. It’s the myriad of childhood learning and behavioral disorders that have made our kids so dysfunctional.
I write about this disaster every day on LossOfBrainTrust.com. I have almost 4,000 stories compiled there from the last two years. They are not my words, but the routine coverage by the press. They casually tell us about the universal decline of education, and they do it with no concern about where all this is headed.
Just like Noah Remnick, they’re all in denial. Nothing is wrong here. What they see happening before their eyes is no big deal. Somehow we’ll all learn to adjust to the exploding numbers, the waiting lists, the gigantic costs. That’s what they tell us every day. Even from Oxford, no one can deal with reality.
FYI, this is the mission statement of The Atlantic:
The Atlantic is America’s leading destination for brave thinking and bold ideas that matter. The Atlantic engages its print, online, and live audiences with breakthrough insights into the worlds of politics, business, the arts, and culture. With exceptional talent deployed against the world’s most important and intriguing topics, The Atlantic is the source of opinion, commentary, and analysis for America’s most influential individuals who wish to be challenged, informed, and entertained.
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism.