On April 4, 2013, I found a news report from WZZM 13, a TV station
in Grand Rapids, MI. The title of the story was " Autism by the
Numbers ." And the numbers are stunning in Michigan. I
read, "More than 15,000 children in Michigan are currently diagnosed with
Autism Spectrum Disorder.
actually has the fourth largest autistic population in the United States."
the report didn't have the rate update of one in every 50 children, there was
no real concern over one in 88.
one out of every 88 children has autism. The Centers for Disease Control
closely tracks the condition and says the number of cases has gone up 78
percent in the last five years.
couple of reasons for that are better screening processes and screening at
was a video from WZZM on the story that made it clear no one really cares what
autism is doing to our children.
reporter started by telling us that the Mackinac Bridge, which connects
upper and lower Michigan, is lit up in blue for April autism
awareness. She defined autism as something that
"affects people's ability to communicate and socialize."
Dr. Michael Wolff
was interviewed about autism and sadly, he pretty much typifies the attitude of
the medical profession when it comes to autism.
"Pediatricians do a good job at asking parents and looking at
told parents what signs to look for. He went on to talk about the loss of
skills as if it's a normal and acceptable part of childhood.
Reporter: "Is it true that in some cases children can be very
interactive and have language skills, and then they just shut down?"
Wolff: "That is seen sometimes. We'll see normal development
coming through that two year mark, and all of a sudden, everything that was
normal seems to change, like they regress a little bit. When they used to be
interacting and communicating, now they're not anymore. And that is a very big
risk factor to be watching for. But we'll also see that in other children, for
many other reasons, whether it's seizure onset or some other types of medical
Then the talk turned to treatment.
What was missing was any sense that this is a crisis and that
health officials have no answers. Dr. Wolff was smiling and casual as he
discussed children regressing into autism or seizures. The reporter
didn't ask about the cause and Wolff didn't offered any explanation. He
didn't tell us just how badly children can be affected or what autism costs
families. If I were an outsider viewing this report, I'd have to conclude
that autism's not really so bad. What are parents complaining
about? Aren't we doing enough with a whole month of awareness? The doctor
isn't worried. Everything seems to be under control. Obviously,
autism's no big deal.