Groundhog Year? Autism and The New York Times: 2003
Posted Jan 01 2012 12:00am
By Anne Dachel
In Nov 2003 the New York Times published an interesting article titled, Government Mapping Out A Strategy to Fight Autism by Jane Gross. HERE
It was about a government plan to deal with autism. It had a lot of familiar details: autism is on the rise, we need to find the cause, and early intervention is best.
Gross reported, “Nobody knows the cause of the surge, although epidemiologists suspect it is largely a result of refined diagnosis and public awareness. That does not change the dimensions of a problem that strains schools, medical services and families. Nor does it affect forecasts of growing caseloads for decades to come.”
Not bad coverage for something from almost a decade ago. We would expect that after millions of dollars of research and all the efforts of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee created by Congress to deal with autism there would be definite answers and we’d have great success stories about programs for affected children and the progress being made. Sadly, it’s not happening.
WNDU-TV in South Bend, IN just published a story about autism on Jan 3, 2012 called, Doctors working on ways to better diagnose children with autism.HERE
WNDU announced, “The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children be screened for autism twice before age 2. However, only between 5 and 7 percent of pediatricians perform a formal screening.
“The average age of diagnosis for a child with autism is about 5 and a half, and experts say that’s way too late.”
In addition they reported, “The number of children diagnosed with autism appears to be rising. It’s not clear whether this is due to better detection and reporting of autism, a real increase in the number of cases, or both.”
What the South Bend story reveals is that we are basically where we were at in 2003 when it comes to autism. Autism is still a medical mystery that doctors and health officials scratch their heads over. There is still no alarm over autism. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics didn’t call autism a crisis in 2003 and they still don’t call it one today.
Back in 2003 it seemed like a real effort was going to be made and I might have been a little hopeful. The Times told us, “Propelled by the skyrocketing number of diagnoses of the perplexing brain disorder autism in children, federal officials have for the first time mapped out a long-term, interagency plan to deal with the problem.
“The plan includes objectives like the development of teaching methods that will allow 90 percent of autistic children to speak; the identification of genetic and nongenetic causes of the condition; and adequate services for all afflicted children in the next 7 to 10 years.”
The Times also included Dr. Fred R. Volkmar from Yale who has long blamed bad genes and credited doctors for the explosion in autism. Volkmar is still in the news regularly trying to convince us that there’s been no real increase in autism.
The strategy mapped out in 2003 set definite goals. “The plan lays out a timeline, in increments of 1 to 3 years, 4 to 6 years and 7 to 10 years and then ranks goals according to the likelihood of achieving them. Realistic goals in each of the three stages include the development, evaluation and institution of effective treatments, in collaboration with the Department of Education.”
”’The idea is to be challenging everyone in the field to be reaching for the best we can possibly do,’ said Dr. Steve Foote, the director of neuroscience at the National Institute of Mental Health, which was designated the lead agency by the Child Health Act.”
The Times did warn, “Some parents are likely to be frustrated by the plan’s suggestion that it will take at least seven years to provide treatment for all who need it.”
“Reaching for the best we can possibly do”
Dr. Foote’s goal of challenging everyone in the field to do their best for autism seems comical today. The truth is the science is nowhere when it comes to autism. The epidemic now affects one in 110 children in the U.S. and almost two percent of just boys according to outdated statistics from the CDC. (We don’t even know what the real numbers currently are.) Back in 2003 when the Times story was written, the autism rate was officially one in 250 children.
‘The Times told us that the plan mapped out by the government “was drafted by scientists to assess the state of autism research and identify the roadblocks that might be hindering progress in understanding the cause and the best treatment options.”
Of course that has never come to pass. The cause of autism paralyzes officials because if they honestly looked into what’s happening to a generation of children they’d have to admit that most of it points to their out-of-control vaccination schedule.
Robert L. Beck of the Autism Society of America lamented the lack of funding in 2003. ”And there’s no money on the services and treatment side. What do we do with the kids for the next 7 to 10 years? We have to do both. You cannot just throw away a generation of children.”
Little has come from all the official attention autism received back in 2000 when the IACC was established and in 2003 when the Strategic Plan was announced. The nightmare only gets worse for families caught up in the epidemic as their children struggle with the lack of services, endless waiting lists, enormous out-of-pocket costs, and growing fears about what the future holds.
We constantly see stories in the press about charges of abuse in schools unprepared for the onslaught of autistic children. We read about parents who can’t find a place for their young adult children aging out of the public school system. And officials and mainstream medicine continue to close their eyes to what autism is doing to America. Experts have quietly surrendered to autism. I can only guess at what it will be like in another nine years of doing nothing as autism conquers the U.S.
Anne Dachel is media editor for Age of Autism. Subscribe to her active news site AnneDachel.com today.
Posted by Age of Autism at January 06, 2012 at 5:47 AM