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.
GMO foods are relatively new. What I’m referring to is the replacement of sugar with HFCS (due to sugar tariffs), the replacement of Saturated fats (eg coconut oil) with Unsaturated fats across the board (eg oreos). Also, the quality of chicken/pork is pretty crappy in the US.
It never ends.
I am not disagreeing with you, and that would have been my kneejerk reaction without my personal experiences with this affliction..
I have been in and out of hundreds of facilities that specialize in this particular problem, and I have not personally witnessed any philandering with government funding, unless it was underfunding for children of folks that were not as fortunate as we were..
This thing is horrid in it's demand on resources, personal and financially, and we are no closer to a cure, if that is even possible, than we were when I was shaken into it's dynamics 11 years ago..
I am in Texas, and cannot speak to any other states, although we, parents of the Autistic kids, talk often with parents and professionals all over the world..
Grandma, I would give up my right arm if my grandson could function enough to go to a class anywhere near his age group.. G_D bless your boy and your family, thank your stars that he is who he is.. :)
Care to elaborate?
At age 4, I visited his preschool and his teacher told me that he wrote them a note that said that he liked to play with trucks and puzzles, too. They said he spelled everything correctly and even put the comma in front of the "too". They were amazed.
We took him to the zoo at about the same age but it took one person always holding his hand because he would just take off, not knowing where he was. My daughter and her husband had to put a latch high up on the door to keep him from running away. He became lost more than once. He could read a newspaper by age 4 and it was evident he was reading it because he would babble out loud and if we could look at the paper, we could see he knew the words. Gradually, his speech improved.
He began entering spelling contests but later entered math contests where he almost always took first place. Some of the wins were quite impressive.
He was actually quite popular in HS as he was on the student council each year and a homecoming king candidate as a senior.
He is somewhat reclusive now but I think he's content with that. He's realizing that he will now have to go into the real world and earn a living. I think some professions gravitate to people with his "problem". It is likely he will end up in Silicon Valley much to his grandmother's dislike BUT we'll see. I just pray for he best for him but from what I read about Silicon Valley, there are many like him there.
Interestingly enough, it appears many of the highly educated folks in that area have many offspring with autistic spectrum disorders.
This just adds to the curiosity. Before the last election, he was home during Thanksgiving break and we were talking about the election. My buttons nearly popped when he announced that he had gotten all the propaganda about Obama, too but he decided to apply logic to his decision and he voted for McCain. At least he wasn't gullible. I pray for you and your family.
Chemical waste - yeah, that was it. Anyone who had to pass through the industrial area of Elizabeth, NJ loved that character!
But we also have exposure to a whole culture of kids like ours and the parents and caregivers and teachers who work with them.
You take an article like this and read (and spread) internet opinions that doctors teachers pharm companies welfare families researchers and others are “making up” an epidemic to defraud.
We get up everyday and give our kids meds and hope we can get them to school or to therapy sessons and hope they have a good enough day to learn at least one tiny little adaptive skill to function in a “normal” world.
You see doctors special ed teachers and pharm companies as greedy shysters. We see them as angels and our kids’ lifelines
Now, mighty I ask what is your “data point” for your assertion that the autism epidemic is really a giant misuse of medical diagnoses to defraud the US government? Internet articles you read? Anecdotes and opinions from people who post on the internet?
Now I have to get back to work- I've got my autistic young man next to me struggling through world geography on his computer. I am working real hard to get him through 6 high school subjects in homeschool this year!
My son was always ‘difficult’, but something happened when he turned nine.
Every night was a nightmare. We could not sit as a family and watch a cartoon with the kids. He was crawling up the walls.
I started noticing that he was very upset by noise. If I ran the vacuum, he’d run and hide under his bed or in his closet. Once he tried to crawl under a throw rug.
The best way I can describe his expression was a ‘mask’. An empty grin. He would hold his hands up to his shoulders and make a ‘flapping’ motion. He would be grinning, eyes empty, screaming ‘whoop! whoop!’ when you were talking to him. And his eyes ‘jittered’. One eye would be spasming very fast and the other would be staring at the wall.
As I said, he’d always had issues, but this was severe. I insisted that he see a pediatric neurologist.
The neuro saw everything that I saw within 15 minutes. He agreed that something was very wrong. This looked like brain damage.
He ran 35 pages of blood work. “First we look at the blood, then we look at the brain.”
Result? He had celiac disease and selective IGA deficiency.
We took him off gluten and two weeks later we had a normal child. He’s 19 and starting college now.
I’m not saying that every kid has a gluten problem, but I am saying that this epidemic is very real and very serious. Everyone here who’s blowing it off as an easy way to get money is an idiot.
Something (or many things) are screwing with our kids’ brains and this is not being made up.
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.
I believe it's all of the above, our boy covers his ears when we are under the fluorescent tube lights.. I think he/they are sensitive to the humm of the Ballasts..
It might also be the ultraviolet light that fluorescent light throw off, that is nearly unnoticed to most people, then there is the humming of the freezers, and Refrigerator units.. Our little guy hates to go down the Refrigerator isle..
I think this has some merit, because he has no such reaction in department stores, although they have their own drawbacks, crowds, narrow isles, and noise.. etc.. Ha! I have an example that you might try.. One day a couple of years ago, on a very unusually cold day, I bought him a cheap pair of earmuffs and he wore them in the store, and didn't react as he usually did..
That day, I also gave him my lightly tinted sunglasses and that seemed to work as well.. I can't tell which was better, because he wore both, but you might give it a try..
The new thing he likes is to sit under a folding table with a blanket over it, draped completely to the floor. I think it helps him block out all the distractions. He seems more at peace under the table than at almost any other time.
I know how you feel.. I also know why others are making their assumptions with all of the fraud that the welfare state has encouraged, BUT, we know what we go through everyday..
This is a National Health Alert, and when it in your own home, it’s a family tragedy.. We never got any check, and never tried, because we didn’t need it, but it has cost us in excess of $50,000 a year for the past 11 years..
We have had our boy, my grandson, to every therapeutic advancement in ever corner of the globe, literally, and have had at least 2 professional teachers, morning and afternoon, in our own in home classroom 5 days a week, from age 3 until he was 9.. We finally found a group Autism program that he seems to respond to..
With all of that, my daughter, and son-in-law are getting a divorce because of the lasting strain that all of this has caused.. :(
Let these folks believe what they want, or need to believe.. We know the facts, and it isn’t in our imagination, it’s a living nightmare, but still a blessing in disguise.. %@%@^^..
As different as they are individually, they are all the same in some of the symptoms.. Andy, my grandson is now 12, and has done that since he was 2.. It's one of the games we play, that all of the grandkids play together with me.. We build tents all over the living room, covering the entire room, with tipped over chairs, blankets (especially bought for this purpose) to create tunnels and small rooms.. etc.. It takes up hours, and he just loves it, and all of the other kids do to..
Your assumption that your son is so unique in his disabilities fits well with your general dismissive attitude to all things that you don’t understand.
Many that have been even more limited than he have been healed; would you deny him that? Of course that would require putting down your own defense mechanisms long enough to receive information.
The link that I provided is to a book that is guaranteed to change your life and your son’s if you just put down your guard long enough to read it. It has done so for thousands that were equally burdened.
you are out of your mind, like I said.
Do you have the balls to say this nonsense to people to their face? To a parent of a Down’s kid? Tay-Sachs? Oh wait, you cure cancer through magic, so I guess you do.
Never write at me again and I promise to do you the same favor.
You must be an incredibly bitter fool.
It’s you and the rest of the sleep walkers that turn to the Med Mafia with your life that depend on magic.
My son takes no medication at all. None. Zero. There is no such thing as medication to replace missing genetic material.
If I felt like it, I’d search and find where you claimed you have seen a human being regenerate an arm (or eye, I forget.)
So why I continue to discuss chromosomal anomalies with you is beyond me.
Your willingness to fabricate lies to bolster your free-fall position is what I’d expect from you based on the flakeyness of your past performances.
BTW, I said nothing about drugs, or your son, but nice try on that too.
Stop trying to spread your self-induced pain.
Just fuck off.
If you are truly mentally ill as I suspect, I apologize for being mean. If you’re just an asshole, then my admonition stands.
Your language and attitude show who is mentally ill, and how deeply so. Some responsible parent you are.
Yup, my nonsense has kept my family among the very healthiest. No doctors, no drugs, no illness.
The Lord is still on the throne, and remains the only recourse.
Not scientific at all, but something that came into my mind... What if the increase in these new issues is the result of babies and children being separated from their mothers while riding in cars? They have to ride in a back seat facing away from their parents, don’t they? (I’m not a parent, so this is just what I’ve heard.) Not having that feeling of security, especially on long road trips, might lead to social dysfunction and emotional problems similar to separation anxiety. Probably crazy, but a thought. Seems that ADD, ADHD, Autism became more prevalent as laws to “protect” kids became more intrusive.
>> “Seems that ADD, ADHD, Autism became more prevalent as laws to protect kids became more intrusive.” <<
Could easily be a part; it dehumanizes the infant through reduced socialization.