I thought Anne Dachel's response to this piece deserved a good read.
Autism Center Helping Families Cope With Disorder
WISC, WI - Oct 11, 2007
The story on the new autism school called Common Threads gave us some disturbing information. We're told that one in every
150 children in the U.S. now has autism. WISC-TV calls autism "a crisis" yet they can give us no reason why so many children
are affected with this devastating disorder.
Associate Dean of Research for the Waisman Center Dr. Susan Ellis Weismerm tells us that "in the past 10 years, there has been
an explosion in autism research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and much of it is being done at the Waisman Center.
Actually, there's been an explosion in the number of children with autism from one in 10,000 in the 1970s to one in every one
150 kids today, including one in every 94 boys, but the Waisman Center has long told us that there is no "crisis" or any
increase in autism.
A Spectrum of Disputes - New York Times
What's happened according to the Waisman Center is "better diagnosing" by doctors and an expanded spectrum of autism disorders. In other words, we've always had so many kids with autism, they were mislabeled. The problem with that claim is that no one asks people who make that claim to prove it. Why isn't there even one study that can find the misdiagnosed/undiagnosed adults with autism at a rate of one in 150?
When we talk about autism, we're talking about kids with autism. The rate of one in 150 came from studies of eight year olds, not eighty year olds. That simple fact should be scaring us all. Most adults never knew anyone labeled autistic or who displayed autistic behavior when they were young, but anywhere you bring up the subject, people start talking about kids they know with autism.
Research has shown that eighty percent of Americans with autism are under the age of eighteen. That means that within the next five to ten years these autistic kids will be adults dependent on the taxpayers for their support and care. Imagine what it will be like when one in every 150 eighteen year olds isn't going to work, or to school, or into the military, but applying for Social Security Disability for life with autism.
Right now the impact of the autism epidemic is being felt in our schools. Boston Globe reporter Carey Goldberg for example, wrote the story on July 5th, With rise in autism, programs strained - The Boston Globe in which we were told, "Statewide, the number of schoolchildren diagnosed with autism has nearly doubled over the last five years, from 4,080 to 7,521, according to soon-to-be-published data from the Department of Education."
In Massachusetts, one in every 130 kids has autism officially. Goldberg wrote, "Autism programs are faced with enormous needs and no one feels like we have enough programs to meet the up-and-coming numbers of children," said Rita Gardner, executive director of Melmark, in Andover, which serves children in its school, in their homes, and in public schools. "I would argue that this is one of our biggest public health crises in this country.
"A few years ago, when state public health authorities began providing autism services to children under 3, they expected about 500 children to enroll. At last count, they are serving more than 1,100.
Goldberg also reported that educating all these disabled children costs the state over $3 million dollars a year. Does anyone seriously think that this is happening merely because doctors are better at diagnosing? The same autistic children who are bankrupting school districts and on endless waiting lists for services will be overwhelming Social Security in the next five to ten year.
These are the current statistics on autism in the U.S. based on Dept. Education figures. http://www.vaprojec t.org/autismasds tatistics. html The explosion in the autism rate is clearly evident. Now imagine a similar increase in the number of young adults applying for Social Security Disability. This is also a double blow. These disabled young people are meant to be the replacement work force to help support the retiring post WWII generation. Not only won't they be paying into Social Security, they'll be living off of it for the rest of their long lives.
Findings by Michael Ganz at Harvard makes a chilling prediction of the future cost to our society as more and more autistic kids become autistic adults. His findings are felt by others to be a gross underestimate of the eventual autism price tag.Autism Has High Costs to U.S. Society, press release of Tuesday ....
It can cost about $3.2 million to take care of an autistic person over his or her lifetime. Caring for all people with autism over their lifetimes costs an estimated $35 billion per year.
See other figures from Lifespire: http://www.a-champ.org/documents/Lifespire%20Costs%20rev.2-23-06.ppt.pdf
Lifespire puts lifetime cost for a single autistic person at $10.125 million.
For more information on the cost of autism, contact Robert Krakow <firstname.lastname@example.org>
At the height of the polio epidemic in the 1950s, one in 3,000 Americans was affected. That was a national crisis. A major effort was made to address it. Autism affects far more people, but no one seems concerned about what's going to happen to all these children. The most important comparison to be made with polio is the fact that most of the victims of polio recovered and went on to lead productive lives. The same won't be said about the victims of the autism epidemic. They will need support and care for life.
The words of Laura Bono of the National Autism Association are a grim forecast for the future: "As those children reach adulthood, the U.S. is ill-equipped to care for them. Not only do we not have enough services for adults now, the light at the end of the tunnel is a train. Frankly, we don't know what we're going to do."
Anne McElroy Dachel
Chippewa Falls, WI USA