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Gedrene
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04 Sep 2011, 3:10 am

http://www.scientificamerican.com/artic ... m-epidemic

Here I think is where the whole shabang begins. When scientific american talks about it then bang, it becomes worldwide news for scientists and science buffs. Note the 1/166 number, lower than the current number of 1/100.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/artic ... nosed.html

Looking back at adults we see that... ooh many now actually fit under the terms of the new diagnoses.

http://pipeline.corante.com/archives/20 ... idemic.php

This guy cleverly points out the actual point it makes, that there is an increase in diagnosis not an epidemic

http://www.science20.com/rogue_neuron/b ... p_insanity

Again another study, over two years old now, saying the epidemic is rubbish.

http://www.care2.com/causes/a-new-theor ... demic.html

And most revealingly of all we have increased awareness.

According to one website this is the origin: http://www.pediatricservices.com/parents/pc-15.htm
A Los Angeles news article on the local government not knowing what is going on.

This is the short of quack page that supports the epidemic hypothesis: http://www.drlwilson.com/articles/AUTISM.htm
Note the words Centre for Development in the top right? Development of what? That's an association fallacy.

This is another page http://www.autism-end-it-now.org/ Again we have quack theories that may be dangerous

Ohoho vaccines and autism epidemic: http://johnwollerjrontheautismepidemic.wordpress.com/

More stuff saying the epidemic is rubbish:
http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/ ... XC20110502
www.autcom.org/pdf/Epidemic.pdf
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/artic ... 29,00.html
http://www.autismtoday.com/articles/Aut ... .asp?cat=1
http://www.unstrange.com/essay.html

And then The Times here says epidemic but celebrates it because now people can have suitable treatment, which suggests they are only celebrating the better capability to detect it: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_a ... 079455.ece

To put it bluntly, epidemic is a scare story used by snake-oil salesmen.



CockneyRebel
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04 Sep 2011, 4:16 am

There isn't an epidemic. ASDs are just better recognized these days and I don't care what those people say, because they're wrong. I'm also not sick or diseased either.


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oceandrop
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04 Sep 2011, 7:25 am

80% of people with autism are under the age of 18. Maybe it is an epidemic.



Gedrene
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04 Sep 2011, 8:07 am

oceandrop wrote:
80% of people with autism are under the age of 18. Maybe it is an epidemic.

Where's your source? I have sources above me that mark what you just said as being untrue. Can you provide actual evidence for your claim?



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04 Sep 2011, 9:16 am

Gedrene, I haven't had the chance to see all the links you posted.

The 80% under 18 statistic has been in the media the last couple of weeks. I believe this statistic was mentioned by Dr. Thomas Insel, head of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) created by Congress to deal with autism.

I'm not sure if autism really is on the rise as I haven't studied the evidence. I do believe that technological advances and other factors are removing negative selective pressures on autism that likely existed in the past; a rise in autism rates would not be surprising.



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04 Sep 2011, 9:59 am

The "80%" remark can only be found in articles connected to "Age of Autism" and a woman called Anne Dachel:
http://www.ageofautism.com/2011/08/clev ... g-why.html
http://annedachel.com/2011/06/11/thomas ... r-worried/

Age of Autism always comes across as a cult set up specifically for the worship of Andrew Wakefield (struck off by the British General Medical Council as "unfit to practice" last May http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Wakefield ).

The members tend to be completely ridiculous and can be found all over facebook swooning over Wakefield as though he were some kind of boy band...and this is not hyperbole, it is simply embarassing, they are the same gender and species as me and they really do that. :oops:

I very much doubt if Dr Thomas Insell is even aware that he has ever "said" anything of the kind.



Gedrene
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04 Sep 2011, 10:04 am

oceandrop wrote:
Gedrene, I haven't had the chance to see all the links you posted.

The 80% under 18 statistic has been in the media the last couple of weeks. I believe this statistic was mentioned by Dr. Thomas Insel, head of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) created by Congress to deal with autism.

I'm not sure if autism really is on the rise as I haven't studied the evidence. I do believe that technological advances and other factors are removing negative selective pressures on autism that likely existed in the past; a rise in autism rates would not be surprising.

Thanks. Study what I have put first though before putting up a counterclaim first though.
I don't exactly know why exactly something being part of Congress needs to be added. Evidence should stand on its own feet, not be judged according to its collator.
Also given how autism actually works I doubt we occured in fewer numbers in the past. We weren't just abandoned on the doorsteps you know. Despite all their 'knowledge' we are just as downtrodden as we always were.



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04 Sep 2011, 1:58 pm

clearly diagnostic criteria doesnt cause and epidemic.that would be like saying whether or whether not buebonic plague caused the great black death of the 1340's is relivent to the spread of the virus.over dx has nothing do with this at all.the only diference is that classic autistic disorder will be ove dx as opposed to AS,PDD-NOS or non verbal ld's.its 6 of one and a half dozen of another


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raisedbyignorance
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04 Sep 2011, 2:49 pm

I do believe that autism and asperger's (just like a vast majority of other conditions) have been around for centuries, long before Hans Asperger or anyone else gave it a name. There is no epidemic...just doctors who are either getting better (or worst depending) at diagnosing it.



Janissy
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04 Sep 2011, 3:36 pm

I am absolutely torn on this. On the one hand, the articles Gedrene linked (and similar I have read) make compelling arguments that the diagnosis has just become broader and more pervasive, reflecting a change in diagnostic numbers only. On the other hand, the whole talk of epidemic was originally raised because of the burden on school systems' special ed departments. The number of kids with autism-based IEPs and needing services really has gone up.

This raises a question for me. If the actual ratio of autistic people has stayed constant and only the diagnosis has gone up, what was happening with those kids before? Many of the posters on WP seemed to have been educated without special services so of course there was that. But the increase isn't all Aspie and HFA kids who in the past just slogged their way through the system (per poster anecdotes). There is also an increase in MFA and LFA kids who truly couldn't have gone unnoticed before.

The DSM changed. The school systems changed (around the world, apparently). But are those two changes enough to explain the increase? Maybe they are. But I have long wondered if there is an enviromental trigger and if it is in part the age of the parents, particularly the mother. This has been brought up in many threads in the past as posters tried to compile WP statistics on the age of their own parents (or their age of becoming parents, if they have AS kids). No firm conclusions. But it is worth noting that Leo Kanner himself noticed that the parents of the kids he treated tended towards older than the norm. It really jumped out at him back then because it was so outside the norm. That observation became part of the Refrigerator Mother theory: the idea being that older women delayed childbirth because they didn't ever want kids and continued not wanting them after they had them anyway due to accident or social pressure.

Older parents and particularly older mothers have become very common. I was older. All the moms of autistic kids I know personally are older. Maybe the correlation is slight (the correlation between maternal age and Down's Syndrome is far stronger and more noticeable) but enough to drive an increase as more women delay childbearing. Or maybe- in a spinoff of Kanners original observation- BAP women (such as myself) are likely to frequently delay childbearing and very unlikely to become pregnant at 15-25 and so a purely genetic phenomenon winds up looking like an enviromental one.



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04 Sep 2011, 4:19 pm

i went through school without dx or services.unless you call juvenille delinquent homes and state hospitals services.i could not make it in pubic school at all.when i came on this forum i was shocked at how many people did go to school and even college.people who think its easy to have AS and not dx,never had AS undx in the early 1980's.services for people with asd's is good


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04 Sep 2011, 4:21 pm

i went through school without dx or services.unless you call juvenille delinquent homes and state hospitals services.i could not make it in pubic school at all.when i came on this forum i was shocked at how many people did go to school and even college.people who think its easy to have AS and not dx,never had AS undx in the early 1980's.services for people with asd's is good


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aghogday
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04 Sep 2011, 5:47 pm

Janissy wrote:
I am absolutely torn on this. On the one hand, the articles Gedrene linked (and similar I have read) make compelling arguments that the diagnosis has just become broader and more pervasive, reflecting a change in diagnostic numbers only. On the other hand, the whole talk of epidemic was originally raised because of the burden on school systems' special ed departments. The number of kids with autism-based IEPs and needing services really has gone up.

This raises a question for me. If the actual ratio of autistic people has stayed constant and only the diagnosis has gone up, what was happening with those kids before? Many of the posters on WP seemed to have been educated without special services so of course there was that. But the increase isn't all Aspie and HFA kids who in the past just slogged their way through the system (per poster anecdotes). There is also an increase in MFA and LFA kids who truly couldn't have gone unnoticed before.

The DSM changed. The school systems changed (around the world, apparently). But are those two changes enough to explain the increase? Maybe they are. But I have long wondered if there is an enviromental trigger and if it is in part the age of the parents, particularly the mother. This has been brought up in many threads in the past as posters tried to compile WP statistics on the age of their own parents (or their age of becoming parents, if they have AS kids). No firm conclusions. But it is worth noting that Leo Kanner himself noticed that the parents of the kids he treated tended towards older than the norm. It really jumped out at him back then because it was so outside the norm. That observation became part of the Refrigerator Mother theory: the idea being that older women delayed childbirth because they didn't ever want kids and continued not wanting them after they had them anyway due to accident or social pressure.

Older parents and particularly older mothers have become very common. I was older. All the moms of autistic kids I know personally are older. Maybe the correlation is slight (the correlation between maternal age and Down's Syndrome is far stronger and more noticeable) but enough to drive an increase as more women delay childbearing. Or maybe- in a spinoff of Kanners original observation- BAP women (such as myself) are likely to frequently delay childbearing and very unlikely to become pregnant at 15-25 and so a purely genetic phenomenon winds up looking like an enviromental one.


I think the statistics provided at the bottom of this post puts the issue in perspective. Regardless of why, the numbers of children with Autism that are requiring disability services in schools in the US have risen exponentially in the last couple of decades.

I'm not surprised at all by the study in England on Autistic adults; these individuals are the ones that have adapted the best they can and have no idea that they have autism.

The methodology of the study though was not the same used to arrive at the 1 in 110 number in the US. It was done through a screening method and diagnosis for the adult population at large.

The study that was done in the US by the CDC from numbers that provided the 1 in 110 result, in 2006 were done on 8 year olds, largely in the special education system in the US, that already had a diagnosis; consistent with the previous study done in 2002. However, it does not accurately measure those that are higher functioning that do not require special education services.

There is absolutely no doubt that improved awareness and diagnosis makes a difference. It's common sense. However, the bottom line is there is a tremendous increase of children with Autism in the school system that are requiring special education services, many of which will likely need support into their adult years.

That is the crisis that the government in the US sees, and is trying to mitigate with the combatting Autism act. Regardless of why, it is reality, now. If there is no significant increase in actual prevalence, the individuals that needed help all along, are now getting the help they need.

If there is no true significant increase in prevalence, it's not likely that the survey in England is identifying many of these adult people that were more profoundly affected by the condition as children, before the diagnosis procedure was improved to accurately identify individuals with Autism, so they could receive the services during the school years that were necessary, to fulfill their potential.

Perhaps some were identified with other inaccurate diagnoses, received the wrong treatment, are in state institutions, or worse. Hopefully, some have adapted, and/or are receiving support from their families.

Vermont Savage may speak for a significant number of individuals in the past, that did not receive the same services that are available now, because of better diagnosis and understanding of Autism at a young age.

There is a link between older parents, down syndrome, schizophrenia, autism, among many other conditions, and statistically that demographic has changed significantly in the US, since women gained reproductive control in the 60's and 70's. There is no doubt that it has somekind of effect, but we don't know how much of an effect.

And, it is possible there are a thousand other factors in the environment that may play a role in the increased prevalence of Autism. The short answer is there is no way to separate the environmental factor of better diagnosis and other factors in the environment as to how much each effects the total numbers. I personally suspect improved diagnosis, is a significant factor; that's common sense.

The epidemic of Autism for the US government is the objective increase in numbers, and governmental support required to provide the help that is needed for the increases in the numbers of children that require that support.

That is the reality that there is no escape from. The CDC provides the statistics from research and then it becomes the US government's responsibility to plan and provide the needed support for those that are disabled to get the support they need in the future, both in the school systems and in society. That's part of the reason we have the Combatting Autism Act in the US.

The table provided in the link below is taken from the official State statistics produced by the Department of Education in the United States, for numbers of children aged 6-21 served by IDEA (Individuals With Disabilities Discrimination Act) who have autism. It compares the increase over the decade between 1992-93 and 2003-04; it shows a 1,055 percent average increase in total numbers over the decade:

http://www.nationalautismassociation.org/autismincreases.php



oceandrop
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04 Sep 2011, 7:28 pm

In favor of the possibility that autism is indeed on the rise, consider that many people on the autism spectrum need support. Today computers fulfill many of the autistic person's needs, while intervention programs and social security allowance helps them to survive and better fulfill their potential.

One hundred years ago, none of these things existed, and it's likely that life was more difficult for autistic people back then. It's not entirely implausible to suggest that Darwinian negative selective pressures for autism traits were greater back then, both in terms of natural selection (e.g. impaired social function would have meant less likely to have income, a good diet, good medicine, etc. that aids survival) and sexual selection (i.e. less attractive to the opposite sex); this would mean the frequency of autism in the gene pool would remain relatively low.

The improvement in the quality of life for autistic people due to modern technology, improved knowledge of the condition and intervention, and social infrastructure would suggest that these negative selective pressures are at least somewhat reduced today, which would result in an increase in the frequency of autism in the gene pool.

So according to evolutionary logic I would expect autism to be on the rise in absolute terms and not wholly due to greater diagnosis. The reality is that the autism spectrum did not officially exist a few decades ago and therefore there is absolutely no data to prove this conclusively (i.e. whatever the media or 'experts' are saying can be little more than informed speculation).



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04 Sep 2011, 8:03 pm

oceandrop wrote:
In favor of the possibility that autism is indeed on the rise, consider that many people on the autism spectrum need support. Today computers fulfill many of the autistic person's needs, while intervention programs and social security allowance helps them to survive and better fulfill their potential.

One hundred years ago, none of these things existed, and it's likely that life was more difficult for autistic people back then. It's not entirely implausible to suggest that Darwinian negative selective pressures for autism traits were greater back then, both in terms of natural selection (e.g. impaired social function would have meant less likely to have income, a good diet, good medicine, etc. that aids survival) and sexual selection (i.e. less attractive to the opposite sex); this would mean the frequency of autism in the gene pool would remain relatively low.

The improvement in the quality of life for autistic people due to modern technology, improved knowledge of the condition and intervention, and social infrastructure would suggest that these negative selective pressures are at least somewhat reduced today, which would result in an increase in the frequency of autism in the gene pool.

So according to evolutionary logic I would expect autism to be on the rise in absolute terms and not wholly due to greater diagnosis. The reality is that the autism spectrum did not officially exist a few decades ago and therefore there is absolutely no data to prove this conclusively (i.e. whatever the media or 'experts' are saying can be little more than informed speculation).


There is some research that suggests that autism prevalence is higher in tech rich areas. There is the suggestion of this in the MIT area in the Northeast and Silicon Valley on the West Coast. A recent study finds a correlation in a tech rich area in the Netherlands:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110620103937.htm

Quote:
The growth of the High Tech Campus Eindhoven has led to Eindhoven becoming a major technology and industrial hub: 30% of jobs in Eindhoven are now in technology or ICT, in Haarlem and Utrecht this is respectively 16 and 17%.

The two control regions were selected because they have similar size populations and a similar socioeconomic class. Schools in each region were asked to provide the number of children enrolled, the number having a clinical diagnosis of ASC and/or two control neurodevelopmental conditions (dyspraxia and ADHD). The participating schools in the three regions provided diagnostic information on a total of 62,505 children. The researchers found school-reported prevalence estimates of ASC in Eindhoven was 229 per 10,000, significantly higher than in Haarlem (84 per 10,000) and Utrecht (57 per 10,000), whilst the prevalence for the control conditions were similar in all regions.

Simon Baron-Cohen commented: "These results are in line with the idea that in regions where parents gravitate towards jobs that involve strong 'systemizing', such as the IT sector, there will be a higher rate of autism among their children, because the genes for autism may be expressed in first degree relatives as a talent in systemizing. The results also have implications for explaining how genes for autism may have persisted in the population gene pool, as some of these genes appear linked to adaptive, advantageous traits."


The study goes on to suggest that further research is needed to confirm the specific results to ensure other factors are not in play.

My understanding in Silicon Valley is that the numbers of classic autism reported are significantly higher there than the non-tech regions in the area.

It could be that we are seeing greater numbers of more debilitating forms of Autism, because of environmental factors in addition to genetic factors, along with better awareness and screening of the condition at an earlier age. There seems to be some evidence to support all three factors.

I suspect that autistic genetics have been in the gene pool for a long time; technology provides advantages for autistic traits, but there were probably advantages as well in the industrial revolution, and during the agricultural era, for some people with Autistic traits.



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05 Sep 2011, 2:23 am

aghogday wrote:
The study that was done in the US by the CDC from numbers that provided the 1 in 110 result, in 2006 were done on 8 year olds, largely in the special education system in the US, that already had a diagnosis; consistent with the previous study done in 2002. However, it does not accurately measure those that are higher functioning that do not require special education services.


Using only eight year olds does not accurately measure the level of autism in a country because it allows people to then make the conclusion there is an increase in child incedence without actually checking adult incedence!