Skip to comments.Autism rates hit 'epidemic increase' in N.J.
Posted on 11/26/2012 9:27:53 AM PST by Coleus
The rate of autism in New Jersey has doubled in six years to one in 49 children — and one in 29 boys — an “epidemic increase” in a disorder that has confounded researchers for decades. Two percent of children in the state are now identified with autism by their eighth birthday.
“The change was overwhelming in magnitude,” said Walter Zahorodny, the principal researcher in New Jersey for the federal study released Thursday. “Now it’s beyond an emergency.” Nationally, one in 88 children now has autism, a jump of 78 percent between 2002 and 2008, the new study found.
While at least part of the increase is attributed to enhanced awareness and better detection, the root causes of the escalation remain as mysterious as the disorder itself. Few in New Jersey are impervious to its effects, from the public expense of educating so many children to the private struggles of families whose children may never become fully independent adults.
New Jersey’s rate, as in the past, is among the highest in the nation. It is now second only to Utah’s, based on the 2008 data for 14 states reported Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But Zahorodny said children here do not face a greater risk of developing the disorder. Rather, he said, health professionals and educators “are more attuned than elsewhere to the signs of autism.” It is the increasing rate of diagnosis in New Jersey and across the nation that has advocates concerned.
Autism New Jersey, a statewide advocacy organization, termed the rise “extremely alarming.” More resources are needed to train teachers and other professionals who work with people with autism, from diagnosis through adulthood, said Linda Meyer, its executive director. A Bergen County private school for children with autism, the Reed Academy in Oakland, enrolls 31 students but has a waiting list of more than 300, said its executive director, H. Todd Eachus.
One mother said she was beyond worrying about the causes of autism now that her daughter is 16. “When my daughter was diagnosed, it was one in 150 nationally. Now it’s one in 88,” said Barbara Strate, who manages an Internet community for families affected by autism that has 2,000 members.
Her greatest concern: “What happens to those one in 88 nationally when they become adults? What will happen to my daughter in five years when that yellow school bus no longer stops at our house?” Autism is a complex disorder that affects the brain’s development early in life, and is believed to have genetic and environmental causes. It interferes with a person’s ability to communicate, learn and form relationships. Behavior is often focused and repetitive.
The symptoms vary in combination and intensity. While some people with autism have normal or higher-than-normal intelligence and are seen as quirky and socially inept, others are unable to speak, sometimes bite, hit and scratch themselves, and require constant supervision. Clinicians refer to an “autism spectrum.”
Eighty percent of the children with autism in the New Jersey study were identified as having the most severe form of the disorder, said Zahorodny, who is an assistant professor at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. They weren’t “borderline” cases. Boys were more than five times as likely to be diagnosed with autism as girls, both in New Jersey and in the rest of the country. Differences among racial and ethnic groups were not significant in the state, he said.
“People want answers to what’s causing autism and why we’re seeing such an increase in autism diagnoses,” Dr. Thomas Frieden, the CDC director, said in a telephone news conference from Atlanta. “So do we.” There was some good news in the study: The age at diagnosis has dropped to 4 years nationally, and 3 years and 2 months in New Jersey. Early intervention holds the most hope of enabling children to reach their fullest potential. Researchers say the goal is to lower the age of diagnosis to 18 months.
“It’s critical to ask quickly” if parents have a concern about their child’s development, said Dr. Colleen Boyle, director of the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. “Don’t wait.” Frieden cautioned that the rise in rates “may be entirely the result of better detection.” But others said that could explain only part of it.
“We know that the increase is partially due to increased awareness,” said Susanne Buchanan, Autism New Jersey’s clinical director. “Probably some is due to increased parental age. There’s some increased risk due to premature births.” But that accounts for only half of it, she said.
The study was based on a survey of educational and medical records for the more than 7,000 children who turned 8 in Union County in 2008. Previous studies, in 2000, 2002 and 2006 in New Jersey, included children who turned 8 in four counties. Zahorodny said he was confident the 2008 data represented a “true rate.” New Jersey had an average of eight to 10 records for each child, compared with three or four in other states, the study said. That may indicate that children here are evaluated more thoroughly and are more likely to be identified with an autism disorder.
“Better detection, particularly among children who may not have come to attention in the past, including girls and minorities,” may have contributed to the higher rates here, said state Health Commissioner Mary E. O’Dowd. The state’s high rate does not reflect a migration of families from other states to take advantage of the services provided here, Zahorodny said. More than 80 percent of the children identified with autism were born in New Jersey, a higher rate of in-state births than other states in the study.
The tracking studies are useful to policymakers as they allocate state and federal resources to autism diagnosis and treatment. A full report of 2006 New Jersey data is expected to be published shortly. Researchers are currently analyzing 2010 data and beginning to collect 2012 data.
In the new DSM V that is coming out, they have combined Asperger’s Syndrome with autism in what they now call Autism Spectrum disorders. Without this separation in diagnoses the rate will go even higher.
No, you’re not dealing with the real issues, you’re running away from them with ineffective hocus-pocus, as usual. And it isn’t you that pays the price of that, but your child.
It was never, NEVER brought up that we could get a ‘crazy check’ for our son. We’ve spent thousands on therapy and specialty diet foods for him. My husband and I went broke paying for our son’s disabilities and working him out of them.
KIDS ARE SICK, DAMNIT.
Would you care to tell me how a parent makes a 2 year old child act "crazy" so they can get a DX of autism. My grandson is now 2.5 years old. He may never learn to talk, may never be potty trained, may never overcome the sensory issues that will not allow him to enter a store, may never make a friend because he may never learn social skills. Why the hell would my son and DIL want that for their only child? Why would they want to worry about what is going to happen to their son when they are gone and won't be there to care for him. Why would they want to have to think about group homes. Oh, and by the way, they don't get a "crazy check" for their son.
“If you give Social Security to a child for having autism, you will find a lot more of it!”
You’re right; it has become quite the “white welfare scam”. While autism certainly exists and is a serious matter, the sudden “rise” is absurd (and coincides with the rise of adult disability claims). Knowing a couple that claims to have a child on the “autism spectrum”, I can tell you what is “wrong” with their child: He is an only child, and raised by strangers while his parents work. When you see him interact with other children, there is NOTHING wrong with him; he is completely normal.
Mommy & Daddy just wanna get paid!
My grandson has severe autism. His mom is physically disabled. My husband and I care for our grandson nearly every evening for 2-4 hours, It is physically and emotionally exhausting but also very rewarding. He is the love of our lives.
I have no expertise in Autism, but Thomas Sowell (I guy I respect) has an interesting article that comments on the epidemic of autism.
When all the food was produced 'naturally' more than 30% of the population worked on farms. Most people are fat, today, because they eat prepackaged foods, don't get enough exercise. If they work, their jobs are extremely sedentary. I could go on. In addition, prior to the proliferation factory canned foods, at least 50000 people died each year from salmonella poisoning due to home canned products not being sanitary.
I know my dear girl, I have been wiped out by the little guy, well not so little anymore, he can exhaust me completely.. LOL
Four years ago, I had an operation, and had to use those electric carts in the grocery store, and I let him ride on my lap while I drove.. That started something big between us, so the story goes, they know me well enough, with him, that they let me do it every Saturday morning to this day..
He is so much bigger now but they don’t mind as long as he doesn’t jump off and turn off all of the store lights, which he has done on more than one occasion.. LOL
It happens all the time. It is so prevalent here that a local news organization investigated and found lots of people encouraging their children in school to act up so they could get a supplement. The news media are the ones who came up with the name “Crazy checks”.
My Sister-in-law works for an agency that helps people get government assistance and she sees this all the time, normal kids and young adults used as excuses to get more money from the government.
A hundred years ago, obesity was basically unheard of, even among the sedentary. There’s an image of people getting off a barge in 1910 NY, and there’s not a single fat person to be seen, even among your white collar workers.
In fact, the obsession with exercise is something new...
It’s the food, salmonella aside.
I was a Kindergarten teacher for 20 years and now volunteer here:
Welcome to Jill’s House...
Autism is real. Very real and is increasing at an alarming rate.
Bless your heart, and thanks for the help with these little darlings.. I am really impressed with the Jill’s House, it looks like a wholesome place for the children, with a really good program.. Here is where my little guy goes..
Looks wonderful! Is it overnight? Jill’s House keeps the children for the weekend to try and save marriages and families.
He lives there now, and has for the past year, and we get him every weekend and holidays, and all summer.. When it is longer than a day or two, he gets fidgety.. He loves the House it is his home now, and has his friends, that are his special buddies..
We have lunch with him a couple of times a week, and Wednesday we take him out to his favorite place for dinner and the store..
You are obviously good and honest people but there are plenty of people abusing the autism classification trying to get SSI checks for their child. This cannot be denied. In fact I have a relative who is in the biz so to speak. A child psychiatrist in the autism field. Parents ask him all the time to help out with SS disability applications
” - - - Far too many people see their beautiful normal children change suddenly at about age 2 - within days or weeks of multiple vaccines now required. “
I have heard that COURT CASES HAVE BEEN WON claiming the vaccines did it IIRC.
Absolutely! I work with high functioning Autistic children and love it!
I hope one day my grandson will be able to go into a store again. Right now it's just too overwhelming for him, not sure if it is the sounds, the lighting, the smells, or what. He completely changed around 18 months of age.