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The Big Lie About Autism & Adulthood

Kids grow up
This is a big lie.

Spoiler alert!  They're in our homes.


By Anne Dachel

Sixteen years ago I wrote a piece called, The Really Big Lie About Autism,  which was about how officials always report that they are not sure if any particular increase in the autism rate represents a true increase in the number of affected children.

I updated that piece repeatedly after 2006 because the really big lie about autism has never gone away. (Just search Google for my past stories.) Over the years whenever the autism numbers took another leap upward, there was always someone from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or a uniformed public health official assuring us that that more autism was nothing to worry about because doctors were finally recognizing it in children, something they hadn’t been able to do in the past. Autism has always been around; we just called it something else.

This has been the standard everywhere in the world. No one in charge cares what percentage of kids has autism. No one is worried.

Back in 2009 a report from Britain claimed to have found the same autism rate we see in children among adults. Prof. Simon Baron-Cohen at Cambridge said he found a comparable rate of autism among adults by asking questions using a phone survey, something which would make it impossible to assess who might be on the severe end of the autism spectrum.

I had several exchanges with Baron-Cohen about the results of this “study” and he did tell me that he believed there were “environmental as well as genetic factors” involved in autism and at the same time saying, “We have year by year simply become better at detection.”

I wrote about it on Age of Autism:

Jun 9, 2009 Dear Professor Baron-Cohen

Jun 11, 2009   Thank You Dr. Baron-Cohen for Responding

We can delude ourselves into thinking that autism has always been here; we just didn’t recognize it, which is what health officials keep telling us, OR we can seriously consider that for some reason, we have an ever-increasing number of neurologically impaired children who never used to be here at the rate we see today.

Of course health officials prefer the former explanation. I’ve long called for finding a comparable rate among adults. (And I don’t mean the adults who prefer to sit home and read a book rather than go to a party with friends.)

Where are the non-verbal 40, 50 and 60 year olds who are still in diapers and have to be protected from harming themselves and others? Where are the middle aged/elderly Americans who were normally developing as babies and who inexplicably lost learned skills and regressed into autism?

Still waiting for that science to come out

Meanwhile I’m currently seeing stories that claim adults have autism at the same rate we see in our children.

April 21, 2022, East Setauket, NY TBR News Media: Autism Awareness Month Championed by Small Business

 An estimated 5,437,988 or 2.21% of adults and 1 in 44 children in the United States have autism and are somewhere on the spectrum, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

April 22, 2022, KTVH, Helena, MT: Townsend Many Abilities Fun Run is "already a success"

“It's important to raise awareness for Neurodiversity and autism because it's becoming more and more commonplace in society. The latest numbers from the CDC are one in 44 children, ages eight and over, have been diagnosed. In 2020, they released a report that stated 2.21% of American adults are autistic. And that doesn't sound like a lot, but it's actually over 5 million people. So the autism and neurodiversity is here.

April 22, 2022, Pace University: Assemblymember Tom Abinanti Joins Pace University to Discuss Solutions to Educating Neurodiverse Students   

About 1 in 44 children have been identified with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and more than 2% of adults in the U.S. are estimated to have ASD, the CDC estimates.

So, according to the CDC, autism is endemic across the population. It’s nothing new. We finally need to accept and accommodate this neurodiverse population.

Back in 2020 the CDC reported that they knew the autism rate among adults. A CNN story had the headline, First US study of autism in adults estimates 2.2% have autism spectrum disorder, which sounded pretty convincing until a person really got into the piece.

…The first US study of autism in adults estimates that 2.2% of Americans adults have an autism spectrum condition.

That adds up to 5.4 million people age 18 and older, or about 1 in 45 people, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday.

Incredibly, CNN next admitted that the CDC really didn’t have scientific proof, all they did was apply the childhood rate across the adult population.

"This is the first CDC study to provide estimates of the number of U.S. adults with autism and fills a gap in data on adults living with autism spectrum disorder in the United States because there is no existing surveillance system to collect this information," the CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities said in a statement. …

"To date, an empirical study of adult ASD prevalence in the U.S. has not been accomplished, perhaps because any single approach to ascertain adult ASD has challenges," the CDC's Patricia Dietz and colleagues wrote in their report, published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

The 2020 CDC “study” is a way to allay fears about the future cost to society when all the autistic kids out there reach adulthood.

IF autism has always been here, then young adults with autism can go where autistic adults have always gone. We would have had established care programs for them even if we didn’t know their disability was really autism in the past.

Of course everything that’s gone on over the past 25 years shows just the opposite. We haven’t been prepared to educate and care for children with autism. We had to learn to accommodate a significant population of affected children we had never seen before in such skyrocketing numbers. And while we still struggle to deal with the children with autism, huge numbers will be aging out of school with nowhere to go.

A paper published in 2021 provides the cold, hard facts about where this is all headed and it’s well worth reading.

2021 Autism Tsunami: the Impact of Rising Prevalence on the Societal Cost of Autism in the United States

Mark Blaxill, Toby Rogers & Cynthia Nevison

The cost of ASD in the U.S. is estimated using a forecast model that for the first time accounts for the true historical increase in ASD. Model inputs include ASD prevalence, census population projections, six cost categories, ten age brackets, inflation projections, and three future prevalence scenarios. Future ASD costs increase dramatically: total base-case costs of $223 (175–271) billion/year are estimated in 2020; $589 billion/year in 2030, $1.36 trillion/year in 2040, and $5.54 (4.29–6.78) trillion/year by 2060, with substantial potential savings through ASD prevention. Rising prevalence, the shift from child to adult-dominated costs, the transfer of costs from parents onto government, and the soaring total costs raise pressing policy questions and demand an urgent focus on prevention strategies.

The eventual autism price tag is one that will overwhelm social services. Maybe when the COST of autism finally shuts down the system, we’ll honestly address the CAUSE of autism. We’ll have to or we won’t have a future. It’s that simple.

Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism.


Frederic Chopin

Bernadine went from head of the Red Cross to AoA’s 2008 Person of the Year.

Jeanne J


Since the Hannah Poling case first came to light, the question has always been what is the percentage of individuals with ASD who also have mitochondial disease/mitochondrial disorders. Many parents felt their children's story was being told as they saw Hannah's case unfolding. Subsequently, a number of studies have concluded that there are between 5% to 25% of children with ASD that show genetic markers for mitochondrial disease, but as high as 75% of children with ASD show features of neuro - biomarkers associated with mitochondrial disorders.

One such study is linked here:

This is why the late Dr. Bernadine Healy was so adamant that more studies were required of good science before one completely dismisses the observation that thousands of parents related concerning their children's regression following vaccination. The court knew not to dismiss the Polings' observations because of their medical and legal background, and the ramifications of Dr. Zimmerman's (a colleague of Dr. Poling) expert testimony for autism regression post vaccination in light of his previous Vaccine Court expert testimony against the same.

But, I suspect Fred, that you are very aware of all of this as well.

John Stone


What a splendid building - so sad.



@John Stone

Thank you for the clarification.
By the way, this estate belonged to Emma Philadelphia's father's first cousin:
Too bad it was taxed to death.

Ludwig van Beethoven


There really is no depth to the moral squalor of this hit and run game by public health but there is something particularly morbid and unpleasant in your voyeuristic preoccupation with this site.


@Piano man

I have read it. Do you have a handy link to it?
I guess that's why Hannah's parents won over $1 million settlement in vaccine court.
Of course, there has never been proof that any vaccine prevents one from getting a disease. Having elevated antibody counts is just coincidental. Covid 19 jabs have proven this. "Vaccines are safe and effective" is meaningless Pharma word salad.

Frederic Chopin

You should read about that case. She had preexisting mitochondrial disease from which fever of any cause can trigger encephalitis.

John Stone


The Baron-Cohens - I believe they are first cousins. I rather dislike Sacha BC’s line in racial/cultural stereotypes. Never watch.


"And vaccines don't cause ASD."

You are correct Piano Man.
The correct medical term is "vaccine induced encephalopathy."
Just ask Hannah Poling's parents.


Could this be Prof. Simon Baron-Cohen's brother?

Sacha Baron Cohen (Ali G) Class Day | Harvard Commencement 2004
A remarkable erudite speech.

Angus Files

As we all know on here if they slow down the dignosis they slow down the extra funding needed to support that child through school.

Autistic Tomorrow and Autistic Yesterday, but Never Autistic Today’

Thanks Anne

Pharma For Prison



With all the vitriol hurled at “anti-vaxxers” over the last two years I’m struck by the fact that we rarely heard the word autism. During measles mania one couldn’t read an article about we dreaded “anti-vaxxers” without also reading the words autism & often, for good measure, Dr Wakefield. Could better autism diagnosing be the reason so many people have refused the Covid vaccines? If autism is not a real epidemic, and only a better perceived reality of the human condition, would so many people have greater vaccine risk awareness?

susan welch

Back - just like a bad penny, Fred.

As for your '100% vaccines don't cause.....................' I'd love you to tell that to my son and his partner who,, nearly 3 decades ago, witnessed their previously progressing son reacting so severely to the MMR and his mother screamed at the doctor 'What have you done to my child?'. After that he regressed, lost his words and is now a very beautiful non verbal young adult who recquirees 24/7 care. You, as his doctor did, would call it a 'coincidence' but you would have a great deal of difficulty in convincing any of his family that the MMR did not cause his disability.

Why do you even bother?

John Stone


ASDs are costly disorders: local authorities have to respond in the UK but they do not screen. If we look at the last Northern Ireland figure for schools the overall rate was 4.5% with many more waiting for a diagnosis. Of these two-thirds or at least 3% of the child population were at the severest end of educational disability, so they could not possibly have been missed in the past.

Frederic Chopin

The more you screen for a common disorder the more cases you'll find. That's statistics 101. And vaccines don't cause ASD.

John Stone

Hi Anne

But just to recap Prof Baron-Cohen finally ducked out of signing the 2009 survey and it is perhaps not surprising as I wrote in 2015:

“UPDATE April 10, 2015 (corrected). Revisiting this article five and half years on there are a small number of additional points. For clarity the original survey of 2007 from which this data was derived was looking for instances of Asperger Syndrome only. No mention was made of "higher-functioning autism" until the Eurekalert Press Release in 2008 but by 2009 both the terms "Asperger" and "high-functioning autism" had disappeared to be replaced by "autism spectrum disorders" but it was the same data set re-labelled to give a false idea of what was being surveyed. It can also be pointed out that not only were the diagnostic tests non-standard, and diluted the criteria for diagnosis but also that the assessments were not carried out by people qualified to make a diagnosis of autism. In the end it is impossible to say that there were any real cases of Asperger Syndrome let alone autism in this survey. Finally, the survey, originally published as National Statistics, was re-published as a peer review study which came to be cited by Thomas Insel, Director of the National Institutes of Mental Health, and Chair of the Interagency Autism Coordinating committee (here , here and at IACC meetings) as if it was a credible source.”

For years as the number mounted I complained that National Autistic Society figure for autism prevalence in the UK (600-700k) was far too high and had been designed to mask the mounting rate among children. Well, today the rate among children could be around 6%

in which case projected onto the entire population this might on this basis be heading for about 4m.

Of course, in a week or two we may expect to see the new Northern Ireland figures which I take to be more complete than others published in the UK. This is another human catastrophe that Covid has distracted from - thank you so much in these difficult time for sticking with it.


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