By Anne Dachel
Psychology Today just announced that having more kids with autism around doesn’t really mean there is more autism in the world.
Abigail Fagan, an associate editor at P.T., asked the question in the headline of her June 3rd story: Do Environmental Changes Explain the Rise in Autism Diagnoses?
The answer is a resounding NO! THERE HAVE BEEN NO ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGES.
Sure the numbers are up.
The rise in autism diagnoses has been steady and striking. In the 1960s, roughly 1 in 10,000 people was diagnosed with autism. Today, 1 in 54 children has the condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And the rise in the U.S. is mirrored in countries around the world.
Don’t worry, nothing is really wrong.
Anyone out there, like me, who’s been hanging around this issue for the last two decades knows exactly how Fagan proves her claim: More kids have an autism label because of better diagnosing, greater awareness, expanded spectrum.
That fact that there is no end in sight to the exponential autism increases doesn’t bother Fagan. More and more and more kids landing on the autism spectrum just means doctors continue to get better and better at recognizing the disorder, teachers and parents are more aware than previous teachers and parents were and changes in the official diagnosis which was expanded to include Aspergers Syndrome in 1994 and then narrowed in 2013 insures that everyone will be confused as to what exactly autism is.
What isn’t happening, according to Fagan:
There is no environmental factor contributing to kids developing autism. Mostly autism is genetic and it’s always been here and it always will be.
I won’t bother you with long quotations for her piece. Here are highlights.
“…some estimates place the heritability at 80 percent.” ,
“… genetic and environmental contributions did not significantly shift over time.”
“[Specific environmental factors] are not responsible for the surge in diagnoses.”
“…there was no significant difference in autism prevalence between children and adults.”
‘We’re diagnosing autism 10 to 50 times more now than we were 25 years ago.’
“If genetic and environmental factors have remained steady over time, cultural and diagnostic shifts must be responsible for the spike in prevalence, Taylor says.”
“Both families and clinicians today are likely more aware of autism and its symptoms than in past decades, making diagnosis more likely.
“Changes in diagnostic criteria also play a role.”
Of course Ms Fagan’s claims are idiotic and baseless. What she and all those in the media covering up the autism epidemic can never do is show us the one in 54 adults with autism—all those she assures us are out there somewhere. She doesn’t even bother to look.
I can go into any grade school in my town and find kids on the spectrum. I can easily pick out the characteristic symptoms. What I can’t do is go to a local nursing home and find the elderly residents with autism.
When we read about the latest autistic “man” who wanders off and drowns, the story usually reveals someone in their 20s.
The only hope for people like Fagan who fabricate the myth of autism always being with us, we just didn’t realize it—is that their ridiculous claim will hold up until the children and young adults with autism become middle aged and elderly and we don’t remember a world without a group home for autistic adults on every other street. And when that day comes we’ll have to convince ourselves that it’s always been like this.
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism.