1 in 110? No, now 1 in 88…

30 Mar

Maybe you’ve heard, but in case you hadn’t, yesterday the CDC released its updated number in relation to autism prevalence. That 1 in 110 number you’ve gotten so used to is 1 in 88. You can read the official report here.

Some important things to remember:

1. While we hold these numbers up as Gospel, they are still inaccurate. For various reasons there are children counted who are mis-diagnosed or diagnosed at a young age PDD who later will be diagnosed off the spectrum (because PDD is such a broad diagnosis) and there are children and adults NOT being counted. What, how could that be? Well, there are places, including entire large states, in this country where individuals with certain diagnoses are not being counted for a variety of reasons. Look for Asperger’s Syndrome in Texas, you will find there is not a single case. That’s impossible based on their population, but it is listed as something else entirely. I found that out from renowned expert Dr James Ball at a recent talk of his I attended. So,  be wary, this is not the truth we seek it to be.

2. These numbers are highly political, but don’t expect that to mean big changes. You may hear senators, governors, congressmen etc quote these statistics in speeches but remember they cannot guarantee any  major changes on their own. They still have constituents not affected by autism to answer to and they have their party and to contend with other branches of government. Politicians are known for saying what they think people want to hear then doing other things entirely, so to get real change, they will need real pressure in the form of your presence in phone calls, letters and emails.

3. This statistic will most likely divide the autism community into two camps. Those that want more research into causes and those that want more funding to assist individuals already diagnoses. These fights in comment boxes and community groups will probably get ugly.  This will ultimately damage the community and our credibility if it gets out of hand. We need to realize that both causes are worthy and both deserve funding and research. And we need to do it charitably. If we can present a united front, we will be unstoppable.

4. Don’t expect this new statistic to immediately win over converts. Your child will still get stares if he or she melts down in public. People will still use the “r” word. And you will still find tons of people who believe that autism spectrum disorders are made up. This statistic should be one tool in the arsenal of education.

A lot of emotions are running high right now about the release of this number. If you love someone with an autism spectrum disorder, I advise you NOT to read the comment boxes on any of the cable news or major news sites about this. I also ask that you take a deep breath and relax and try to think logically about what this means for you. I know rational thought is not easy when it comes to subjects like this, but it will help you more than spouting off and lashing out in winning converts and in getting through your day.



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