Dr. Allen Frances is Sorry, Sorry, Sorry
Thirteen years ago, Aug 9, 2011, I wrote the piece, Allen Frances, Thomas Insel and the Black & White Rise of Autism (It's Fashionable?) for Age of Autism. It was all about how Dr. Allen Frances regretted being the chairman of the committee that added Asperger's to the DSM IV in 1994. He claimed that broadening the definition for autism is what’s behind the “epidemic” increase in Autism. In his exact words, “There is no epidemic.”
Here’s what I wrote in 2011:
…Recently a story also appeared in the Gulf Times, Qatar’s only English language newspaper, titled, The real reasons for the autism 'epidemic.’
It was written by Allen Frances, MD. Frances was chair of the DSM-IV Task Force and he’s with the department of psychiatry at Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, NC.
DSM stands for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and while many of us wonder why our children’s neurological problem, namely autism, is in a manual about mental illness, that’s where the criteria for diagnosing autism is found.
Frances was in charge of the DSM 4 that came out in 1994. This is important because that’s when the diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome was officially added as a form of autism. In his Qatar piece, Frances went into great detail about why he’s not worried about all the children everywhere with autism. There is no epidemic. We’ve just expanded the definition of autism so much that many more people now qualify. He’s convinced that adding Asperger’s in 1994 is the reason the current autism rate is one in 110 and he’s sure that when the DSM 5 comes out in May 2013, the autism rate will soar even higher—because they’re going to drop Asperger’s as a separate category. If that really doesn’t make sense to you, I’m sure you’re not alone. All that’s clear to me is that if they keep playing with the definition of autism, the term itself will lose all meaning. The spectrum will include so many atypical behaviors that on a bad day, anyone could be labeled “autistic.”
Frances wrote, “Not long ago, autism was among the rarest of disorders, afflicting only one child in every 2,000-5,000. This changed dramatically with the publication in 1994 of DSM IV (the manual of psychiatric diagnosis widely used around the world). Soon, rates exploded to about 1 per 100.”
All the autism makes perfect sense to Frances but the epidemic rate has caused parents to be scared. “The natural reaction to any plague is panic. Parents are now fearful that every delay in speech or socialisation presages autism. Childless couples decide to avoid having kids. Parents with autistic children are desolate and desperate to determine its cause.”…
Well, Dr. Frances is back in the news with the same lame claim. It seems it is his permanent assignment to deny, deny, deny that autism, whatever the rate, is anything to worry about.
On April 24, 2023, the New York Post once again gave the floor to Frances: Doctor who helped broaden autism spectrum ‘very sorry’ for over-diagnosis
Reporter John Mac Ghlionn made the case for AUTISM OVER-DIAGNOSING. (So much for all the doctors taking bows for two decades of “better diagnosing.” Now we’re told they really didn’t know what they were doing after all.)
Mac Ghlionn writes:
According to a Rutgers study published earlier this year, autism rates in the US have increased some 500% over the past 16 years.
And “profound autism” cases — those who are likely to need around-the clock care for the rest of their lives — now make up one in four diagnoses, according to a recent paper published by researchers at the CDC.
But is the rise in autism really the result of better screening, or are we over-diagnosing regular behavior?
Dr. Allen Frances told The Post that he is “very sorry for helping to lower the diagnosis bar.”
In the early 1990s, Frances spearheaded the task force that, in his own words, “loosened the definition of autism” for the DSM-4, the so-called bible of psychiatry.
Now, Frances said, he fears his work “contributed to the creation of diagnostic fads that resulted in the massive over-diagnosis of autistic disorders in children and adults.”
Ten years ago, Frances, a world-renowned psychiatrist, wrote “Saving Normal: An Insider’s Revolt Against Out-of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis, DSM-5, Big Pharma, and the Medicalization of Ordinary Life,” which explored how the medicalization of behaviors once deemed normal has become common practice.
Autism rates in the US have increased some 500% over the past 16 years.Getty Images/iStockphoto
More specifically, he took aim at the DSM for turning millions of healthy Americans into what he called “mental patients.” The first DSM, published back in 1962, contained about 60 mental disorders. The current edition has more than 300.
And Dr. Frances finds himself in a rather unique position. Although the prominent psychiatrist has played a key role in highlighting various deficiencies in the DSM, he has also, he said, “partly caused the problem” of autism over-diagnosis.
“Careful field testing suggested the new definition would just triple the rate,” he said of the research for DSM-4. “Instead it quickly multiplied almost 100 fold. More clinicians began labeling both normal diversity and a variety of other psychological problems as autistic.”
Frances, who contributed to DSM-4 has also been extremely critical of DSM-5, which melded autism, Asperger’s and Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified into one spectrum….
Frances echoed the criticism: “The DSM-5 loosened the diagnosis of autism even more by introducing the concept of autistic spectrum, thus further obscuring the boundary between mental disorder and normal diversity.”
DSM-5 “worsened everything by melting three conditions” — autism, Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) diagnosis and the Asperger diagnosis — “together and by de-specifying the autism diagnosis even more,” Mottron said.
“Ironically,” added Mottron, “although the DSM-5 initially devised to make the diagnosis more specific, it actually had the reverse effect.”
According to Mottron, the skyrocketing rates of autism in America are also tied to sociological reasons.
For one thing, there is a considerably “less discriminative image” of autism than before.
Furthermore, the “self-amplifying circle of autism is more known, more searched for, and more institutionally supported than is the case for other completive diagnoses.”…
Both Mottron and Frances stress that autism is a very real condition that affects many Americans.
However, Mottron said, the condition is being diagnosed at a rate that’s simply not consistent with reality. Frances agrees.
“Although people often benefit from an accurate diagnosis of autism, an inaccurate diagnosis can cause harmful stigma, hopelessness, reduced expectations, and misdirected treatment,” Frances said. “Because the diagnosis of autism is so consequential and so frequently carelessly done, parents and adult patients should always get a second opinion whenever possible.”
Trying desperately to make autism go away
Frances may sound reasonable to someone not connected to schools or children everywhere, but those of us living in the real world know that kids with an autism diagnosis aren’t displaying behavior that was once considered “normal.”
Just look at the stories I post everyday on my website, Loss of Brain Trust.
Here we read about the collapse of education.
Over 95% of school districts in the U.S. don’t have enough special ed teachers, and there are huge shortages of classroom aides.
Schools in the U.K. and Ireland are expanding special education services, especially adding autism classrooms. Across the country whole schools for autism are being built to accommodate students whose condition is so severe they can’t be helped in regular special ed rooms.
Percentages of kids with special needs are over 25 percent in many places across the U.S. These kids have real needs that have to be met.
There are now so many kids in regular ed classrooms who are can only be there with a one-on-one aide beside them.
If Mac Ghlionn really wanted to report the truth about autism he would have asked Frances why the autism rate continues to get worse.
IF Frances blames the 1994 DSM-IV for the explosion in autism, exacerbated by the updated DSM 5 in 2013, why doesn’t autism ever level off?
JUST visit any school and talk to teachers and administrators. Our schools are filled with kids who can’t behave or learn like kids have traditionally been expected to.
Classrooms have evacuation plans in case a particular student has a meltdown and is a danger to other kids. There are now many disabled students with autism who are classified as “nonverbal.”
It’s now common for schools to have sensory rooms where at-risk kids can de-escalate and seclusion rooms for students whose behavior is out-of-control. Restraint is now used as a last resort for a violent students.
Even if the student’s diagnosis isn’t AUTISM, there are now so many kids with a myriad of neurological labels and behavioral/developmental problems that impair their ability to learn.
Individual education plans (IEPS) are regularly used for students who have to have a modified curriculum in order to survive in a mainstream.classroom.
Does Mac Ghlionn seriously think that schools around the world would be spending millions more on special education if there wasn’t a clear need?
According to the National Autism Association,
“About 40% of children with autism do not speak.”
Mac Ghlionn should research Frances’ history of denial. Declaring that autism hasn’t increased has been his mantra for years for a good reason. IF all the autism is nothing new, then the claim that the dramatic increase in the childhood vaccine schedule is behind the soaring rates of autism is merely coincidental.
In 2011 Frances had an opinion piece in Al Jazeera. In it he wrote about vaccines and autism.
The British physician Andrew Wakefield’s vaccine theory became wildly popular among parents, many of whom began to withhold vaccination (thus subjecting their own and other children to the risk of entirely preventable, and sometimes serious, illnesses).
Vaccination seemed a plausible cause because of the fortuitous correlation between getting shots and the onset of symptoms. Wakefield’s work has now been thoroughly discredited as incorrect and dishonest science. But fear of autism is so great, and the reactions to it so irrational, that in some circles Wakefield continues to be revered as a prophet.
Of course Frances can cite the numerous pharma-funded population studies showing no link between the industry’s products and autism. He goes further and denies that there is any environmental toxin connected to autism.
Perhaps, then, an environmental toxin is causing an epidemic outbreak of autism. This has been the most popular theory, but it, too, is a small factor, at best. There has been no sudden environmental change since 1994 to account for an explosion in rates.
“Experts” are now desperate to convince us that all the autism we’re seeing is a normal and acceptable part of childhood. It won’t work. Millions of disabled autistic young adults will be leaving school in the coming years. It will be up to the taxpayers to provide for and financially support them for the rest of their long lives.
When we’re all paying for this disaster, no one will believe that people have always been like this, we just didn’t notice.
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism.
The Vaccine Court 2.0: Revised and Updated: The Dark Truth of America's Vaccine Injury Compensation Program
By Wayne Rohde
The Vaccine Court looks at the mysterious and often unknown world of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP), the only recourse for seeking compensation for those who have been injured by a vaccine. The NVICP, better known as the ”Vaccine Court,” however, is not without controversy.
Established by Congress as a direct result of the passage of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, the NVICP was supposed to offer a no-fault alternative to the traditional injury claims filed in state or federal courts and was to provide quick, efficient, and fair compensation for those who have been injured by vaccines. The reality, however, is that many cases take several years or longer to complete and require tremendous commitment from families already pushed to the brink of bankruptcy caring for the vaccine-injured family member, only to discover that the end result is manipulated by the government in defense of the US vaccine policy.
A Letter to Liberals: Censorship and COVID: An Attack on Science and American Ideals
By Robert Kennedy Jr.
A leading Democrat challenges his party to return to liberal values and evidence-based science
Democrats were the party of intellectual curiosity, critical thinking, and faith in scientific and liberal empiricism. They once took pride in understanding how to read science critically, exercising healthy skepticism toward notoriously corrupt entities like the drug companies that brought us the opioid crisis, and were outraged by the phenomenon of “agency capture” and the pervasive control of private interests over Congress, the media, and the scientific journals.
A Letter to Liberals is Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s, challenge to “lockdown liberalism’s” embrace of policies that are an affront to once cherished precepts.
Denial: How Refusing to Face the Facts about Our Autism Epidemic Hurts Children, Families, and Our Future
By Mark Blaxill and Dan Olmsted
Even as the autism rate soars and the cost to our nation climbs well into the billions, a dangerous new idea is taking hold: There simply is no autism epidemic.
The question is stark: Is autism ancient, a genetic variation that demands acceptance and celebration? Or is it new and disabling, triggered by something in the environment that is damaging more children every day?
So sorry your son has suffered so long Kate C. What are/were his worst "neurodiversity" symptoms that nobody wants to talk about? Sad symptoms of "high functioning PDDs" in Australia: https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2010/192/1/high-functioning-pervasive-developmental-disorders-adults
Regressive "PDDs" without normal academic functions (ones not like HFA or Aspergers) or normal motor skills/ones that get worse as the victim ages, should be swiftly renamed to Childhood Onset Dementia/Alzheimer's as the anything-goes, broad-spectrum "PDDNOS" label does nothing for inreasing access to the serious occupational and other therapies these clients (not just children anymore) need as they regress and lose progress in skills they previously learned. Home education is the best for regressive "PDDNOS" and other regressive ASDs, especially those with impaired academic abilities and severe sensory issues.
Posted by: Anonymous | May 04, 2023 at 08:42 PM
The DSM was amended in the 90s because there were so many children who didn’t fall under the existing definitions, but were obviously unable to cope with life. In my city the leading paediatrician went back to med school in 1990 because he was seeing so many disabled kids who didn’t fit any of the categories he was used to. Teachers were seeing kids who couldn’t cope with school and demanding that parents “do something”. We took our son to multiple psychiatrists and psychologists in an effort to do something, finally getting a diagnosis of PDD-NOS at age 14, possibly the most useless diagnosis ever invented. However, the kids were real, and appropriately included in the DSM.
Posted by: Kate C | May 04, 2023 at 10:09 AM
Remove "autism" from the DSM 5 and put all the symptoms on the Vaccine Court table of injuries. BTW, does anyone know how much $$$$$$$$$$$$ is currently in the Treasury vaccine injury awards stockpile?
FDA Claims Licensed Vaccines Do Not Need to Prevent Infections or Transmission
They are CYA for licensing Covid 19 "Comirnaty". I've been posting about this for months. No "safe and effective" standards for CDC Childhood Vaccine recommended list.
Posted by: Emmaphiladelphia | May 04, 2023 at 12:23 AM
I thing repentance can happen, but first one would have to allow for enlightenment. Allen Frances, MD will not be one of them where repentance is possible. The MD behind his name forbids enlightenment. And I'm certain he does everything possible to make sure enlightenment will not occur in the profession he so admirably represents.
Posted by: michael | May 03, 2023 at 01:20 PM
“When we’re all paying for this disaster….”
Ah, people are. So the autism/Asperger’s rate is 1 in 36, according to the CDC. The CDC doesn’t distinguish between autism and Asperger’s, yet Asperger’s gets lumped in when determining the rate….. such a regret, if only I could afford some pearls to clutch. Elon Musk & Greata Thunberg are apparently on the spectrum, neither one of those individuals are going to claim disability in the US. Can we please look at the number of people in the US who will?! 64% of us live paycheck to paycheck & can’t afford a $400 emergency if (God forbid) one should happen. What’s the average cost of raising a profoundly autistic child over a lifetime? In for-profit healthcare America? I’m guessing no one here gives a shit about what exactly defines autism, but shit needs to be given to the landlord, & the car dealer, & the insurance company. So fuck off with your definitions and give these parents some justice.
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you AoA & RFK JR!!! RFK 2024!!!
Posted by: annie | May 03, 2023 at 02:00 AM
Well not like Bill to base the whole world on his one experience nothing like trying to be impartial.
Seen one case of autism youve seen one case of autism- repeat Bill.
Great article Ann thanks.The liars lie so much they believe it themselves.. but never so much as to take a vaccine themselves or for their families to have one. UK ex Prime Minster class example when the MMR vaccine was causing big damage. He refused to divulge whether his son Leo had been vaccinated or not.Why did anyone ask ?as he would have lied any way.The man who told the workd there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq just so that he could make out he was bigger cowboy than Bush.
Shadow health secretary Liam Fox, a former GP, urged the Prime Minister to send out a "strong signal" reinforcing the Government's insistence that MMR is safe.
Speculation over whether Leo has had the jab intensified after it emerged that Mrs Blair has responded to emails from mothers worried about the possible effects of the triple jab against measles, mumps and rubella.
Downing Street has refused to say whether Leo has had it, citing reasons of family privacy, but it is normally given to children between 12 and 18 months old.
Ms Kirkbride said today: "It is the Government's policy to refuse the right of parents to have single vaccinations. In those circumstances I believe the public should be told whether or not Leo Blair has received his MMR. This is an area where the realities of political life rub up against the understandable desire for a private family life."
Pharma For Prison
Posted by: Angus Files | May 02, 2023 at 06:00 PM
Autism is OVERDIAGNOSED!
Liberals love a victimhood culture and over diagnosis of autism politically benefits liberal political parties. Conservatives love privatization of healthcare and autism overdiagnosis financially benefits conservative politicians through this privatization. I was diagnosed at age 10 1/2 in 2001 a few years after when autism first started to become over-diagnosed. Now the Developmentally Disability Services of many states and provinces are with full waitlist. I am glad the United Brazilian States/United Argentine Provinces and more so the United Arab Emirates are more conservative when they diagnose mental illness and developmental disabilities. Those countries understand how to save taxpayer funds from waste and even more so how to save the dignity of the moderate to seriously disabled people from malingerers. Rare vaccine injuries are not related to autism being over-diagnosis. I hope these parents find impactful treatment for their children so as long as the treatment is safe and effective.
Posted by: Bill | May 02, 2023 at 09:12 AM
Imagine what might happen if Dr. Frances, and so many others, decided to repent, seek the Lord, and speak the truth. To that end, here are some Bible verses about repentance. May these verses change someone’s life today, perhaps even Dr. Frances’s.
Posted by: Laura Hayes | May 02, 2023 at 08:42 AM
Excellent article, Anne. I will write more later. I am really being shadowed lately.
Posted by: mauine Meleck | May 02, 2023 at 08:33 AM
Liars lie. What more can be said about someone who continues to deny the intentional, ongoing, increasing, and overtly obvious destruction of children? What kind of sick human being would not want to immediately get to the bottom of, and stop in its tracks, that which is destroying the health, development, minds, independence, fertility, longevity, and lives of children? What have these sick and evil people done in their business and private lives that can be used to blackmail them into aiding and abetting the decimation of children, their families, and in turn, schools, communities, nations, and humanity?
Anne, thank you for being a truth teller.
“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars - they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” Rev. 21:8
Posted by: Laura Hayes | May 02, 2023 at 07:57 AM