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Is the rate of autism recovery going down with time?

Posted Sep 01 2009 10:35pm

There is evidence that autism recovery is real. At least that is what we are being told on blogs based on data from the latest “ National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) “.

We’ve already discussed some of the misinterpretations of the NSCH dataset on this site. I had a long post about this question prepared, but let’s just cut to the chase. If biomedical interventions are resulting in more kids recovering from autism, the “recovery rate” would go up with time. Kids born in the early 1990’s, before ideas like chelation and special diets were popular, wouldn’t be recovered at the same rate as kids born in, say, the last 10 years.

This just isn’t the case.  I graphed the “recovery rate”.  Take the number of kids whose parents were told that the kid had autism minus the number where the parents are reporting the child does not presently have autism.  Divide by the total number of kids whose parents were told the kid had autism.  Show as a percentage (click on graph below).

The “recovery rate” is going down. The rate was about 40% for kids born in 1990 but has dropped to below 30% for kids born in 2004.

Note that there is a high “recovery” rate datapoint for birth year 2005. Those kids were 2 years old for the survey and there were very few of them (only 15 kids total compared to about 90 for most birth years). I wouldn’t try to draw any conclusions from that point.

But, what’s the bottom line? The NSCH data don’t support the concept that introduction of “biomedical interventions” are “recovering” kids with autism. If you really wanted to take the data at face value, you would have to say exactly the opposite: the recovery rate has gone down with the growth of “biomed”. I don’t buy that. The easiest explanation is this: older kids have had more time for some medical person to say, “he/she might be autistic”.

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