Time.com is asking if the new autism numbers are real and there is certainly reason to be skeptical. Is it possible that the rates have jumped from 1 in 150 to 1 in 100 in two short years?
Some people are alarmed by the results of two recent studies, but a little collective common sense is countering the voices that are speaking of a rapidly growing “epidemic.” One of the studies, a telephone survey of parents conducted by the HRSA appears to be highly suspect. I’ve tried to find the methodology for the second study conducted by the CDC and have been unsuccessful.
The parent phone interviews suggest that nearly 40 percent of the children that received an ASD diagnosis didn’t currently have autism. Could it possibly be true that 40% of autistic children are now somehow cured of this disorder before becoming adults? Of course not. So what’s really happening? Why are doctors are diagnosing many more kids with autism then they were just a few years ago?
Isn’t it reasonable to assert that the increase in diagnoses is directly related to the increase in early intervention and ongoing services made available by school districts and insurance carriers? If your kid has developmental delays, you are now motivated to go out and get a label of autism. If the child doesn’t, in fact, have a pervasive development disorder, the services may effectively address the delays in a few short years.
A few years ago, I was fighting with my school district for increased services for my 3 year-old. He was in a pre-school disabled program but wasn’t getting the amount of speech-, occupational- and behavioral therapy that he needed. After he was diagnosed, everything changed for the better. He’s now in an autism program with a 2:1 student-teacher ratio and he is receiving the necessary therapies with promising results. In spite of this, it is abundantly clear that there will never be a time when I will say that “he no longer has autism.”