In case you are living under a rock (or maybe other people whose lives aren’t touched by autism didn’t have their news feed and inbox blowing up today with this) I need you to know that the CDC released their newest prevalence rates of autism today.
1 in 68.
In the 1980s the number was 1 in 10,000.
Let that sink in.
This isn’t just better diagnosing and more awareness like some public figures like to spout. Just in my 8 years of working in the special needs field I have watched my population of clients go from 10 percent of the kids I saw on the spectrum to now having half of my caseload on the spectrum. When my son entered public school there was one other child in his school with autism. There are now 10 (that I know of). The last change in diagnostic criteria was 16 years ago. There hasn’t been any changes in that time to the time of this data collection that could even account for a minuscule raise of the autism rates, let alone this giant of a leap.
The federal government’s response to this ever climbing rate of autism is disgusting. Plain and simple. Where is the outrage? Where is the concern? Autism isn’t just those feel-good stories we always hear in the news- the kid who makes a ton of shots in his first basketball game, the amazing artists, the savants who can play any instrument the first time they touch it. Autism is middle school kids still working on potty training, children who elope and drown (one study shows that nearly 1/2 of children with autism have or will run away at some point, drowning is the leading cause of death among children with autism), children hurting themselves, caregiver fatigue, children with comorbid health issues, children aging out of school services and facing the reality that there are not enough adult services for people with autism.
There is a reason other than genetics for this sort of exponential growth in prevalence rates. And it is about time the government thought it was important to figure out what that is.
Autism needs to be a priority.
If you’d like to help make a difference please follow this link to the Autism Action Network and let our President know that we are listening and we are waiting for change.