We're approaching the second half of 2022. Another year races on, and real help for autism is at a low point. Go ahead and Google "Autism," just the word. Then look at the news features. Elizabeth Bonker is featured prominently, which is terrific. She's the college Valedictorian who uses spelling to communicate. I will note, and I mean no disrepect to Elizabeth's success, NPR and other news outlets have written that she lost her speech at 15 months. If she had lost her ability to walk, surely the reports would have said the reason. But regressive autism? Gloss over it and move on. The other news stories are all based on neurodiversity. I suppose we should be grateful there was not a drowning story. Mercury is in retrograde, I'm told. And the world seems to be as broken as can be. I think we should revisit Mark's work. And remember our roots. Deep and painful as they may be.
Mark Blaxill Autism Tsunami Part 1
Question 1: Tell us about your study, Autism Tsunami: the Impact of Rising Prevalence on the Societal Cost of Autism in the United States. What motivated you and the other authors to look into the future impact of autism?
Mark: My motivation has been 20 years long. (Inaudible)…and it was pretty obvious for too long, the numbers were exploding.
California and everywhere you looked, the numbers were going up, and that invalidated the orthodox story line.
(Inaudible) Mark dismissed the official claims of better diagnosing/diagnostic substitution.
And we’ve known that for a long time, Anne.
I first started writing about that in 2001, 2003, in that area. I started writing in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders when they started trying to blame it on diagnostic substitution.
It was obvious that the work that they were doing …(inaudible)
I wrote to them. I got some colleagues to write. …
The authors that argued that it was diagnostic substitution had to retract their findings because it was obvious that they were arithmetically wrong.
The rate of autism was going up, and the rate of intellectual disability was not declining.
Then I wrote a paper that was published in 2004, What’s going on? The question of time trends in autism.
I argued that the rates were going up and it was real, all over the world, particularly in the United States and the UK.
I know you focus very heavily on the United States and the UK both of which have rates that are going up.
And then I kept writing about it.
I wrote a book called The Age of Autism.
I wrote another book called Denial, both with Dan Olmsted.
One in 2010 and another in 2017.
You’re kind of screaming at the universe, please pay attention. This is a crisis.
Anne, you do this every day. I do this in longer cycle projects. We’re doing much of the same work.
One thing that happened is that Cindy Nevison, whom I’ve gotten to know pretty well, and she’s doing very good work. …on the environmental causes of autism.
She and I got together with a guy named Walter Zahorodny, who is the CDC’s man in New Jersey. And New Jersey has been reporting some of the highest rates of autism.
Walter, in his own way, is saying the same thing.
So we started writing a paper that was published in 2018. The three of us were co-authors.
I had been looking at the California numbers way back since 2001, some of the early days. Cindy had started looking at more recent numbers. We compiled our databases.
We got this article published that said, you know these rates are exploding and they’re real.
By the time we’re doing that in 2018, that’s 20 years after I first started looking. The numbers are scarily higher, and to your point, the increases have not slowed, if anything they look like they’re growing more rapidly. …
Cynthia and I wrote another paper called Diagnostic Substitution, again showing that there’s no case that the increases are due to substitutes of intellectual disability.
When they published the California paper in 2018, which surprised me honestly, I was surprised because it goes against the orthodox narrative.
Good for the journal. They’ve been a pleasure to deal with because they’re interested in good evidence and good science, and we’ve tried to write it very rigorously.
As soon as that paper in 2018, I wrote the idea to Cindy and some others—hey, let’s do a cost of disease paper, because there is a literature on the cost of disease.
Most and almost all of it, until very recently, almost all it has assumed that the rates of autism prevalence are constant, which is a spectacular error.
First of all, they tend the latest numbers so they underestimate the cost of autism in children, and then they assume that whatever rates we’re observing in children, we’re observing in the elderly. So they will assign all those costs, and they’ll put a model together that’ll say, this is the cost of autism in elderly.
And they’ll add all that up, and they’ll come up with a number that’s too high for the total cost, but that underestimates the cost in children and dramatically overstates—makes up fansome numbers for cost in the elderly that don’t exist.
So that’s an error, foundational error in most cost of disease study, and we sought to correct that. That was the idea.
Part 2 follows tomorrow.