Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Epidemic? What epidemic?

A study shows the rate of autism among adults is about the same as children, except most adults don't know about it:
University of Leicester researchers present further evidence from first ever general population survey of autism in adulthood (…)  There was no evidence of an 'autism epidemic' of marked increase in people with the condition.  [Dr Traolach Brugha, Professor of Psychiatry at the University] says "Overall our findings suggest that prevalence is neither rising nor falling significantly over time".

This is a bit of a fly in the ointment for anyone who asks the question:  "What is causing this recent explosion of cases of autism?"  Answer:  There is no explosion.  Diagnosis got better.  Instead of dismissing autistic children as "eccentric" (at one end of the spectrum) or "mentally retarded" (at the other end of the spectrum), the medical community got better at pinpointing the exact problem, and parents and teachers are more likely to give the diagnosed the help they need.

The article goes on to note that most of those diagnosed, being at the higher-functioning end of the spectrum, weren't even aware that they were autistic.  This lends credit to my own theory that, due to misdiagnoses, higher functioning autistic people tend to suffer more than the lower functioning ones (a fate, I'm glad to said, probably happens a lot less often in the 21st century).

There are still lots of questions around this mysterious thing called autism.  As an example, a recently released University of California study suggests children conceived in winter had a significantly higher risk of being diagnosed with autism than those conceived in summer:  http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/05/06/3209926.htm.  To which I say:  "What the ****?  It's a seasonal thing?"

1 comment:

  1. This is a great article and way to put it in perspective. Some people might not fathum that there wasn't at time too long ago that people have never heard of Autism. You now throw in that there is a spectrum and that Asperger is high functioning\verbal Autism than people are hearing and aware of the "tendencies" the "characteristics".

    When Michael was diagonsed almost 30 years ago with Autism it was very rare when people were told that they had heard of Autism and if they did they didn't know anything about it. Michael had a skin condition and was segregated from children his age in the community/church by their mothers because they were concerned that their child may "catch" Autism.

    Rainman wasn't out and although it many ways it did a diservice to Autism plight it in many way did as service as it allowed the doors to open for communication and conversation about Autism.

    We have Autism Awareness Campains. We do have Rainman. We have Jenny McCarthy (I know, I don't like her expertise on the matter anymore than you do). We have tons of litature. We have books written by adults whom has lived a life on the spectrum and tell about.

    It is true there is NO epidemic in cases of Autism. However there is an epidemic in media, a epidemic of misleading/wrong information about Autism. However, I am greatful for every since peice of it (ok, again back to Jenny McCarthy exception can be made however she does in fact have a child who is Autistic).