Skip to comments.The Autism Wars
Posted on 04/08/2012 6:22:16 PM PDT by neverdem
THE report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that one in 88 American children have an autism spectrum disorder has stoked a debate about why the conditions prevalence continues to rise. The C.D.C. said it was possible that the increase could be entirely attributed to better detection by teachers and doctors, while holding out the possibility of unknown environmental factors.
But the report, released last month, also appears to be serving as a lightning rod for those who question the legitimacy of a diagnosis whose estimated prevalence has nearly doubled since 2007.
As one person commenting on The New York Timess online article about it put it, parents want an out for why little Johnny is a little hard to control. Or, as another skeptic posted on a different Web site, Just like how all of a sudden everyone had A.D.H.D. in the 90s, now everyone has autism.
The diagnosis criteria for autism spectrum disorders were broadened in the 1990s to encompass not just the most severely affected children, who might be intellectually disabled, nonverbal or prone to self-injury, but those with widely varying symptoms and intellectual abilities who shared a fundamental difficulty with social interaction. As a result, the makeup of the autism population has shifted: only about a third of those identified by the C.D.C. as autistic last month had an intellectual disability, compared...
But whether the diagnosis is now too broad is a subject of dispute even among mental health professionals. The group in charge of autism criteria for the new version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has proposed changes that would exclude some who currently qualify, reducing the combination of behavioral traits through which the diagnosis can be reached from a mind-boggling 2,027 to 11, according to one estimate...
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
I realize now after posting that remark that I should have clarified. I am not blaming parents as other posters have. But I do know that the Autism spectrum now contains 20,000+ diagnoses - far more than even 20 years ago. If a child has a serious problem, then parents should get all the help they need. My point, very poorly made, is that this is resulting in some serious abuses and more big-daddy govt. intervention. I truly want to know what is behind the increase of serious Autism. What is the impact on babies with all the immunizations they get - Way more than when my kids were born more than 30 years ago. If I were having babies these days, I would be in big trouble - I wouldn’t allow any more than the basic MMR — we’d have to be homeschooling because they wouldn’t be allowed in public school.
Actually, when you get the diagnosis you are just stunned even though you instinctively know something is different. You wonder about everything. Did I forget to take my prenatal vitamin on a critical day? You question everything and wonder how you failed your child.
Then you get scared. Will my child ever be “normal”? Are all my hopes and wishes for my child dashed?
The anger comes when you realize that the medical community does not have many answers for you.
You say you won’t do drugs, then you get a dose of reality and learn that your kid functions and is happier with the help. You wouldn’t deny a diabetic child insulin would you? Well, many of them are lacking serotonin or other normal brain chemicals. To deny the child this medication would be cruelty. It is NOT noble to let your child suffer because of some stupid high horse about drugs. We learned this as well. So have all the other families we know. Again it is different when it is your reality.
It sounds like you are a wonderful mother and that you and your family are doing everything possible to help your son develop into a healthy young man.
Sadly, those who have not worked with youngsters who have difficulties like those seen on the autism-spectrum are quick to speculate and make uneducated judgments.
Thank you for your patience on this thread as you work to educate others on the issue and its impact on families.
Absolutely agree! My son is Aspergers.
These people posting have no idea! But they don’t mind sharing...
To every one here doing an armchair confirmation of the CDC BS explanation that it is simply better detection, try taking care of an autistic child for a day or a week. You will change your thinking in less than an hour. It is not bad parenting or difficult to control children. To suggest so shows stunning ignorance. Once you have spent any time with an autistic child you will understand that there is no way your explanation works. You also just might finally begin to get what an ever growing % of the population is dealing with.
I have two brothers both with autistic children (boys). Neither one is in public school. Neither one means more government money for anyone. Not to mention there are NO funds available for my family to “take advantage of the system.” They pay for outrageous medical and schooling costs all out of pocket. The idea that this is a scam is beyond insulting.
I would be angry because I know my child functions normally.
I have taken both ritalin and adderall (recreationally and to study for tests in college). These are not drugs for kids. I am sure they help them perform better, but they are mind altering. Insulin is not mind altering, apples and oranges. I was very wild back in the day and I will tell you ritalin and adderall are worse than most illegal drugs. I certainly wouldn’t put my child on anything without trying it myself first.
the libbies really want to find upper level autism such as Aspergers Syndrome, my son has it, I have it. usually these individuals are above average intelligence but with lacking of social skills, and are usually victimized by persons of authority.
But they also make excellent poster kids for funding, so the more they can corral the more funding they can get, and the more that can be converted.
I have no love for those that have an agenda to seek out those that are different, I have seen what has happened.
A family that has an autistic child should be very aware that if given the opportunity these child care expert agencies WILL take your child away, they will find any reason to ascertain you cannot take care of them, they did to my son.
Adderall affects those without ADD/ADHD very differently than it does those of us with a true diagnosis.
Same can be said with marijuana, cocaine or even alcohol. All affect people differently.
Years ago, Thomas Sowell wrote a book about children like your neighbors’. It was called “The Einstein Syndrome,” and dealt with late talking children who often showed signs of what many would consider autism.
The gist of the book was that there is a whole population of kids who are NOT autistic but seem to develop later than others, and who have exhibited some odd behaviors in early childhood. Many of these children spend years being misdiagnosed and medicated before finally being properly diagnosed.
I read the book when my own son was about 2 or so. Sadly, Johnny was not among those who would be classified as having “Einstein Syndrome.” Turns out he’d had a stroke in infancy and the delays he exhibited were the results of that event. Those delays were signs of the damage done to his brain — he’s 14 now, six feet tall, and terribly
handsome. If you saw him, you’d never know something was wrong. Until he spoke. THEN you’d know. While he shows no signs of autism, there is a definite intellectual deficiency.
Anyway, your neighbors might be interested in the book even though their son is grown — just to see if his symptoms matched Dr. Sowell’s theory.
Interesting. Albert Einstein was a very late talker. His brain formed heightened analysis to compensate for his late verbal skill development.
I have a close friend and her oldest son has Aspergers. Like you, she is/was a stay at home Mom. She also knew something wasn’t “right” when he was a small baby. She did everything “right”... ate well, took vitamins, etc... and loved that baby in utero and the day he was born. Wonderful home, no domestic issues, great pediatricians... you name it. I don’t see Autism and the spectrum as parenting issues. What it is from.. I have no idea but in my personal experience... it isn’t the parents.
From the article:
"In South Korea, a recent study found a prevalence rate of one in 38 children, and a study in England found autism at roughly the same rate 1 percent in adults as in children, implying that the condition had gone unidentified previously, rather than an actual increase in its incidence."
That's the best I can do about other countries.
Thanks for the links!
My granddaughter also has Asberger’s. She sounds a bit like your son. She’s now in first grade and doing pretty well. She dances, tap and ballet, she sings and does variety show type dance, and she has an orange belt, with stripes, in Tong So Do, a form of Karate similar to Tae Qwon Do. She can break boards with hand, foot and elbow. She spars with others her size/age (And likes it!) . But she still has some issues. She turns out to have lots of food and chemical allergies. Gluten, dairy, soy plus artificial dyes. She also takes anti-virals. But it’s all helping her a lot. She’s now more spontaneous with her talking for example. Instead of her usual “meltdown” today, she just got mad and stomped off,slammed a door, etc, just like any other first grade girl.
Or even plasic surgery, for extreme cases.
I’ve worked with autistic children, one in particular named Dominique. Although it was many yrs ago, during my senior yr as an undergraduate studying psychology. I don’t specialise in Clinical Psychology, but know that:
It is a Neuro-Developmental Disorder which affects social interaction & communication, but also delays cognitive development, as well as how information is processed in the brain. The latter may partly explain the examples (jail & Ten Commandments, animals & rain) you gave of your son in post 18.
You’re correct, it has a strong genetic basis, sometimes environmental factors can contribute or cause it. Factors such as toxins, heavy metals, pesticides, even childhood vaccines.
Unfortunately, what exactly causes autism is still not completely clear, even its genetic basis is very complex.
Years ago, they also used to call autism “childhood schizophrenia”. And, even now most ordinary folks equate schizophrenia with multiple personality or think it is a personality disorder; it isn’t.
Also, Autism is not the same as Mental Retardation (MR) or Syndromic mental retardation, which are both, primarily, “intellectual disabilities”, coupled with 2 adaptive behaviour deficits.
I can fully appreciate that it can be stressful for parents to manage a child with autism. The best treatments and/or management is when related deficits & family stress are reduced. Mostly, a combination of behaviour & social skills therapy, structured learning/teaching, speech & language therapy, and sometimes occupational therapy - tailored to suit the child’s needs.
If it is hard to access suitable schools, it may be an idea to have your psychologist or physician tailor a management program, in conjunction with one or two qualified professionals (therapists) in above-mentioned fields, and for the therapist or qualified teacher to then work with your child at home. It can be done, for example, 3 days a week. If you network with other parents who have autistic kids with similar needs, then perhaps, the sessions can be shared.
They want kids to be factory robots.
Plenty of individual differences.
Don't know, but there seems to be a higher incidence when the father is older.
Don't know, but there seems to be a higher incidence when the father is older.
Don't know, but there seems to be a higher incidence when the father is older.
I hate opening threads on FR on Child Development topics because of all the insensitive responses from people that know nothing about the subject. The common answer is we are not spanking enough, or we are bad parents, or like one reply I read here, we caused it by our recreational drug use. I was one of those doubters myself once. My son now 10, made me a believer. If they could only walk in our shoes.
If autism is, indeed, a “spectrum disorder,” then we can forget this “1 in 88” nonsense: every last human being EXCEPT the one, ultimate person of the most pristine normalcy will, by definition, fall somewhere down the spectrum towards autism.
Dr. John Cannell of the VitaminDCouncil.org has published a theory regarding a possible cause for what he calls an epidemic of autism, and it’s a theory that makes a lot of sense.
Essentially, he believes that the 1989 recommendation by the pediatricians to avoid direct sunlight when pregnant, and in addition to shield babies from direct sunlight, has caused the epidemic by depriving babies of vitamin D3, the sunshine vitamin.
He theorizes that vitamin D3 is essential to brain development and that the vast majority of newborns in most northern climates are now being born with abnormally low levels of vitamin D3. Until fairly recently, the threshold level of vitamin D3 was set by doctors concerned about bone health and rickets in newborns, with a level of 15 ng/ml deemed sufficient to prevent rickets. This is why milk has has modest vitamin D fortification for decades.
However, since pregnant women (who are most likely to listen to their doctors of all patient groups) began following their pediatricians’ advice and avoiding direct sunlight, more and more babies have been born with low levels of vitamin D3 in their systems.
And it turns out that D3 is used by nearly every cellular system in the body, not just bones, and that it is essential for proper brain development. Dr. Cannell theorizes that the low level of D3 is capable of triggering neurological maldevelopment in children who are genetically predisposed to autism, or autism spectrum disorders.
I don’t do html links in here normally, but here’s one you can cut and paste that will get you to his paper eventually:
That page covers parallels between autism and dyslexia, but the first few paragraphs contain links to his paper and to an interesting exchange between Dr. Cannell and the parent of an autistic child.
They get the money, but the don't deliver an effective product. My oldest and youngest are classic ADD cases. The oldest also had heart problems that required 4 open heart surgeries to fix. He was so hyper that he was kicked out of kindergarten the first day...after they located him 3 blocks from the school campus. His IEP meetings produced "plans" that resulted in slightly better than "general population" efforts. There was always the pressure to "mainstream" even though the "mainstream" teachers weren't ready to handle it. The youngest was doing just "OK" in San Diego schools. We moved to Idaho and the wheels came off. The teachers were completely unprepared. I have an 8th grade dropout on my hands.
I mention the classic ADD diagnosis because they are both bright. The oldest has pursued a degree in geology and is better read than most literature grad students. He has a mind like a steel trap, but his "executive functioning" just isn't up to the level required to make good progress through his college curriculum. The youngest cut his first CD with a band as the drummer at age 15. Three weeks of time in the studio. He plays electric and acoustic guitar proficiently. He has been in the top 5 world wide in "guitar hero". When not playing or writing music, his amusements include writing new elements into first person graphical "shoot up" style games in Lua or Ruby. Very bright. I wish I could get him to settle down long enough to knock out his GED.
Check out the story at this link
You are 100% correct. It is a challenge to raise somebody that has not only a short-term memory loss, but, also a causal effect deficiency...add in fetal alcohol syndrome and life becomes a roller coaster ride. And the school districts willingness to apply the label to any child that acts out in a social situation only serves to muddy the waters. Parents have to become the childs advocate. And that is almost always against people who have a vested interest in advocating for the school district by forcing you to the fringes.
in my humble opinion, just like you, I am not convinced that Asperger’s/autism are caused by too little maternal attention.
My mother was a stay-at-home mom and she was devoted to me from the moment she knew that I had been conceived :-)
Hovewer, a difficult birth has been named as one of the risk factors (among others) for autism/Asperger’s.
If this hypothesis should turn out to be true, it definitely applies in my case.
All my life, I have been given hell for my behavior, until I was finally diagnosed with Asperger’s four years ago.
My youngest is that way - always has been. Highly intelligent, but limited “social” skills or “common sense”.
When he was young, I took him to every doctor, specialist, you name it. They said he had ADHD and nothing more. We ran the gambit of behavior modification, medications, etc. When he was entering 9th grade he refused to take any medication because it made him feel anxious. At the end of his junior year, he refused special education services and chose to get thru his senior year without any assistance (being pulled from class or voluntarily going to spec ed room to get back on task or out of a situation he couldn’t handle) - which was good because he learned if he didn’t do what he was supposed to do or figure out how to handle a situation, then he wouldn’t graduate.
By the grace of God he got through school - it was never the academics that were the problem, it was the social “cues” and not “fitting in”. But it was the “rule breakers” that was/is the worst. He got his driver license at 16 but wouldn’t drive until he was 18 because he said it aggravated him that so many drivers were driving unsafe and not following the laws. Now he only drives to/from work.
It was heartbreaking and still is sometimes, but we get thru it with lots of tears, hugs, faith, and LOTS of nights on my knees praying for us to get thru just one more day.
We watched a tv program a few years ago about a young man with Asperger’s and my husband and I looked at each other and said “OMG, that’s it!” He was never diagnosed with it, but everything we’ve learned about it says definitely to us... that’s what it is.
And you are correct... there’s not much help for kids like ours. A nurse once told me about her own son with a mental disability ... she said to me “I love him, now it’s up to me to get him to a place where others will love him too”. And that’s so true with these children.
My son will soon be 20 and is “un-loader” and night stocker at Walmart. He likes this job he says, cause he doesn’t have to deal with too many people. He has a set “routine”, he knows what he is supposed to do and does it. He’s making some friends/acquaintances with co-workers and that’s a HUGE improvement over his “just one friend” rule.
I don’t know what is in store for him on down the road. I still work with him daily - several times a day - on how to handle different situations, change his mindset with the “rules” he sets for himself, frustrations, etc. One day he’ll be able to be out on his own - but until that day, I’ll keep working with him so that he can become independent.
Right now, he’s learning to deal with having his brother, sister in law, and 5 month old niece in the house as they are staying with us to get back on their feet. And I have to say, he’s handling it very well and even opening up and and joining in with family time/conversations more instead of isolating himself.
I’ll never give up on him or lose hope that he too will someday have a family of his own.
Sorry for the long post/ramble... this issue is close to my heart as I’m sure it is to yours too. ((hugs))
I am so sorry if I offended you. Please let me explain my opinion better.
There are truly cases of autism, such as your child’s. I understand that I can’t imagine your pain and frustration. For your child and all of the other children who are truly autistic, the widespread misuse of the diagnosis to cover misbehavior and/or quirky behavior has caused a great deal of misunderstanding. It seems that autism spectrum is diagnosed in far too many cases just as ADD was in the 1980s. I know of a few cases in which the problem is clearly a lack of parental involvement and too much time spent by the kid in front of a TV or monitor.
You say that funds are not available. But, here in Maryland, there are all sorts of funds allocated for special education, and it has become a gravy train for our bloated public school system. So it benefits them to “diagnose” kids with autism.
I do not know what it is like to have a child with this disorder, but I know the pain of having “different” kid and worrying about him constantly. My bipolar son is now with the Lord.
Please forgive me for any hurt that I caused you. May God bless and keep you and your family.
I've noticed a familial relationship. I teach special ed, and when you've got one kid diagnosed with it, if you start looking for relatives you generally find them.
Thanks for the links, hadn't seen them before.
Asperger's very often goes hand in hand with ADD/ADHD. When they're not interested, they're not interested and it's very, very difficult to get them to focus or pay attention. When they're interested, they hit a hyper-focus function and you can't drag them away. They're research for 18 hrs straight, forgetting to eat and resenting bathroom breaks - and then they're DONE with the topic and simply walk away from it.
I think someone has confused genius with ADD. Extremely gifted people aren’t “normal” and cannot be expected to behave or perform like “normal”. The problem is, what do you do? All I can say is that they should be nudged to the degree possible toward something that will allow their genius to be come productive.
Why not have the 8th grader try his hand at some CLEP tests? It might appeal to him as a challenge (although he probably would not have much trouble with it).
Trying out things will have to wait until I can be home again. I only managed 3 visits home each year over the last 3 years. It's just too expensive to drive 925 miles only to have to return in short order. I have to work 2 weeks to earn 7.68 hours off. Work 11 weeks and have a week of paid time off. My company has left me dangling in the wind with no chargeable hours too many times. I accrue vacation hours as a hedge against being unemployed.
-—Again it is different when it is your reality.——
I have 3 nephews close in age, same family, same upbringing. All three have some form of ADD/autism. One functions pretty well, and is able to hold a job with a fair amount of responsibility. One worked briefly in an office environment, but can’t get past an interview now because of poor interpersonal skills. He has germ-phobia and sensitivity issues that have to be seen to be understood. The third brother will never hold a job with any responsibility. He can’t relate to other people in a normal way. But he thinks he’s normal, and as an adult, won’t pursue any therapy.
All three are very bright.
This disorder is obviously a huge cross for the heartbroken parents. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
I live with it too.
I appreciate all the postive comments and apologies. I am sorry because when it comes to my child I am a momma bear.
The truth is that while my son presents enormous challanges he also gives us many Blessings as well. He is kind. He loves children and small animals and protects them. He has stood up to other children who are fully functional when they tried to do the wrong thing. He has an innocence and ability to see things in a way we cannot. He has broaden my horizons and reminded me to be grateful for what we do have.
It also doesn’t hurt that he can argue Conservative viewpoints to his teachers and peers. He’s even converted a few. He points out what is Constitutional and what is not. A few liberal teachers have had their brains explode.
The point is we parents of special kids have a hard job like any parent. We are desparate for answers and celebrate little things that others may take for granted.
Thanks for the link!
As somebody's tagline that I used to read on here says: "I'm really getting sick and tired of being "sick and tired!" I think that tagline belonged to a much younger man than I... "ElkGroveDan" maybe, I'm not totally certain.
LOL. Yeah Walt that was me. Thanks for remembering.
Not unlike the “Special Needs” episode of King of the Hill. http://www.hulu.com/watch/43469/king-of-the-hill-special-needs
My husband’s CPS worker ex-wife has all three of his kids labeled “special needs” that way she can get out of parenting and just be a friend to the children.
The 13 year old daughter in particular has an IQ of 83 yet mommy had her tested UNTIL she got the ‘learning disabled-other’ *diagnosis* that she so desired. All three children are failing in school due to being raised on the “instant gratification” model and my husband being pushed out of their lives due to the vindictiveness of said ex-wife. Not just failing but Marianas Trench failing.
No doubt she gets an extra tax credit from Uncle Sam for having “special needs” children.
Here’s another appropriate URL http://www.hulu.com/watch/60401/king-of-the-hill-sweet-gig