Thank you to our Anne Dachel who is one of the few people in media asking why no one seems alarmed by the ever increasing autism rates everywhere, and especially in New Jersey, where experts have been studying for decades. The fiddling has only grown louder over the last twenty five years, as families, school districts, services burn to the ground. It's a travesty. We matter. Our kids matter. Their futures matter. Life is more than Covid and identity politics or pitting American against American for $omeone'$ agenda. There are countless people with autism who will be LOST when their parents are gone, because no one seems to give a sh*t. Money and funding has gone to genetics and disability advocates have willfully shunned severe autism while fighting for pie in the sky methods that simply DO NOT WORK for much of the autism population. Here's a filthy secret - ABA is a nightmare come adulthood. It ends with school. Day program staff have no training. Job coaches and employers don't know what ABA is. The grocery clerk has no training. Dentists have no training. ABA lives in a tiny exclusive school based bubble. Once you age out? 80% accuracy isn't enough. ABA is a liability at age 22. Prompting ceases to exist. Community based living? An apartment? A condo? Ha! My daughters have no voice control. NONE. They weigh 120 pounds and walk like beautiful mastodons. They melt down. They scream. They sing Sesame Street at the top of their lungs. One says HELLOOOOOOO over and over because it is ALL she can say. They wake up every - single - day - at 4:30am and begin their raucous joy. My kids. My 3. Multiply that by your kids, your grandkids, all the kids. We need to be less polite about all of this. Rattle cages. Maybe even pick up pitchforks.
By Anne Dachel
Twelve percent of boys in Toms River, NJ have autism and no one can figure out why
More on the 200 percent increase in autism in New Jersey.
Listen to this 3 minute video on autism in New Jersey, featuring Dr. Walter Zahorodny, who casually cites horrific autism rates among boys and says it’s all a mystery.
New Jersey, where autism has been on the rise for decades, the rate is now the highest in the nation. New research from Rutgers University pinpoints the startling increase. It climbed from roughly 1% in 2000 up to 3% and even 5% today in some parts of the state, prompting questions about whether there will be enough resources and services to keep up with demand.
In May, First Children Services opened a new center in Roselle Park to provide a continuum of services starting with diagnosis. Matt Hess, CEO of First Children Services, said the goal is to continue opening such centers as the demand in New Jersey continues to increase.
REPORTER: The goal at …First Children Services ...is to do activities in a natural group setting while being paired with individual behavior technicians providing Applied Behavioral Analysis or ABA services. …
This center …opened in May and CEO Matt Hess says it provides a continuum of services starting with diagnosis. …
Hess says the plan is to open more centers as the demand in New Jersey continues to increase.
WALTER ZAHORODNY: It’s very unusual to find a disorder, a disability, some health problem increasing so dramatically in a brief period of time.
REPORTER: Associate professor of pediatrics, Walter Zahorodny, has been tracking autism in school districts in four New Jersey counties since 2000
ZAHORADNY: Autism has increased from about one percent to this new range which is somewhere between three and five percent, in some districts.
REPORTER: Ocean County, for example, had an overall rate of five percent.
ZAHORODNY: Boys are much more likely to have autism than girls, so when you’re talking about a five percent rate overall, what you’re really revealing is a prevalence of autism among boys of eight percent.
Newark has that. Toms River has a rate among boys approaching twelve percent.
REPORTER: Reasons are still unclear as to what may be causing these spikes, but Zahoradny’s research shows New Jersey’s rate of autism is higher than anywhere else in the U.S. where it’s tracked by the CDC.
ZAHORODNY:Maternal age, paternal age, prematurity, ow birth weight, prenatal exposure to certain drugs [has been shown] to affect autism prevalence, that is to increase the risk at little bit.
But none of those little changes are enough to explain a 200 percent increase.
So I think we still have some important risk factor, trigger or triggers left to discover.
MATT HESS: Some will say it’s due to the fact that we’re better at diagnosing it and treating it and kind of identifying children that are on the spectrum. …
Let me add…
I have written about Walter Zahorodny a number of times over the years. He has looked on with amazement at the stunning increases in New Jersey. Today he’s talking about a 200 percent increase in autism. Back in 2014, it was a 43 percent increase.
Back in April, 2012, Zahorodny was featured on the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC radio. During the interview, the host brought up research on the possible causes for autism and he made this comment: "I guess we know what they aren't, for instance, childhood vaccines, right?"
This was Zahorodny's stunning response: "Vaccines don't play a significant role in autism increasing. Some small number of children probably do have autism because of an adverse vaccine reaction, but they don't make for the overall rise. …
So a "small number of children" have autism because of their vaccines. Shouldn't we all be concerned?
While Zahorondny's claim that thimerosal was removed by 2000 is clearly wrong, his admission that yes, some kids really do become autistic after vaccinations, was alarming.
So how much of the rate increase is because of the vaccines children receive?
More from Walter Zahorodny:
In this current publication Zahorodny, the autism expert from Rutgers University, warns us that the horrible numbers from New Jersey are probably the same all over the country, and we should expect things to get worse. He adds that we should do something.
This from a man who has been monitoring autism in New Jersey since 2000.
June 18, 2021, NJ.com: More N.J. kids are being diagnosed with autism. That will likely strain schools
…The rate was much higher in some districts. In the Toms River Regional School District, the autism rate was more than 7%, the highest in the state, the research shows. Newark’s rate was about 5%. NorthJersey.com was the first to publish the findings.
Walter Zahorodny, the researcher who conducted the study, said larger communities — Toms River being the largest suburban school district in the state — could see higher rates because their school districts have better resources for kids with autism….
The New Jersey Department of Education did not answer specific questions about its plans to address this growing need. In an emailed statement, spokesman Shaheed Morris said, “The NJDOE and its sister agencies have also made a variety of resources available to support families of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.”…
But as autism cases rise — Zahorodny expects the trend to continue — the state Department of Education and school districts will have to figure out how to meet the complex and unique needs of more kids.
Buchanan said districts in the state are generally equipped to handle the majority of kids with autism who do not have intellectual disabilities, but that those who do require more care and resources. She also said the ability of districts to meet educational needs varies wildly….
Zahorodny said his research has long indicated that New Jersey has the highest prevalence of autism in the U.S. But he said the state likely doesn’t have a significantly higher autism rate than other densely populated areas of the country. New Jersey is just better at identifying cases.
In fact, he added that the autism rate across the country is probably more like New Jersey’s 3.6% and less like the CDC’s national average of 1.9%.
“The rate in New Jersey is based on our ability to identify true cases, based on true quality information from educational and clinical sources,” Zahorodny said. “In reality, I suspect that the rate of autism is higher in places with lower estimates. That’s an underestimate of autism prevalence.”
Statistics from the state Department of Education show that just 1.7% of students — 23,369 students in total — were classified as having autism in 2019, meaning there could be thousands of kids not getting the education they require.
Regardless of the precise autism numbers, Zahorodny said his research makes one thing clear.
“The alarming signal is that we need to do something ... pay attention and consider this a real phenomenon and make plans to serve the children,” he said.
Eileen Shaklee said she feels the state’s system does well when kids with autism are young, but starts to falter as they get older.
“It seems to me once they start aging out of elementary and they’re not cute anymore” they don’t get the services they need, she said. “We have a huge problem on our hands when these kids get older.”
Anne Dachel is media editor for Age of Autism.