I was 28 before I ever even heard of autism. It showed up in a 60 minutes article as a very rare childhood development illness. I did not yet have children though my first was coming soon at the time. My parents had not heard of autism until I told them that my son had autism. Yet autism is so hard to miss. It is hard to miss the touch sensitivity, the sound sensitivity, the need for routine, the rocking, the stimming, the ritualistic and repetitive behaviors, the aphasia which scream autism and nothing else. When I was 28 the autism rate was said to be 1/10000. So if the autism rate was really 1/68 then we missed 146 out of 147 autistic children. Seriously?
I watched as the CDC changed the autism rate from 1/10000 to 1/2500 to 1500 to 1/166 to 1/88 to 1/68 and this is not an autism epidemic? I looked at the California school statistics and saw the rates rise year by year and this is not an autism epidemic?
The Somalis came to Minnesota as refugees. If you watch the Minnesota news reports, the Minnesota school districts show that the autism rate among the Somali population is 1/32 children. But the autism population among the children born in Somalia is zero. How does this square with the idea that there is no autism epidemic? Did the Somalis callously leave their autistic children back in Somalia? This would mean that they were able to diagnose their autistic children while we medically sophistical westerners could not tell the difference between autistic children and other children. It would mean that the Somali mothers and fathers were able to overcome their conscience and en masse leave their autistic children behind. The only way to dismiss the Somali experience is to simply dismiss it.
But look at the papers saying that there is no autism epidemic.
There are others, but I will not belabor this blog with it. So the question is why. The medical community did not accept the idea of an autism epidemic in 1999. Many in the medical community still do not accept the idea of an autism epidemic. What is going on in the medical minds? I cannot claim to be able to read the minds of the medical community. Nevertheless here is what I see.
First, the medical community has maintained that autism and vaccines are not related. There is no causal link. When parents reported that their child was progressing normally right up until they had their ____ vaccine, the medical community dismissed every one of these claims as anecdotal. Without controlled studies, it is not possible to simply accept the idea that there were children who regressed into autism after vaccination. Then when other parents produced video evidence belying the medical community's idea that they could dismiss the parents' claims as anecdotal, it became a matter of simply being post hoc events. Autism regression occurs at these ages. Just because the child regresses after a vaccination does not mean that the vaccination caused the autistic regression. Fair enough, but for vaccination to cause autistic regression, it has to occur prior to the autistic regression. The video evidence and the parents' testimony all say the same thing, vaccine followed by autistic regression. While you can't prove vaccines caused autistic regression simply by proving that the regression happened after the vaccination, you can prove that the vaccine had nothing to do with it if the autistic regression happened before the vaccine. So far, no such proof has been forthcoming.
Second, the medical community regards vaccination as a pillar of modern health. How will they answer the question, "If 1/68 children become autistic then how is the vaccination program worth this sacrifice?" This is countered with exaggeration and scare tactics. Look at the measles:
The CDC claims that:
- About 1 in 4 people in the U.S. who get measles will be hospitalized
- 1 out of every 1,000 people with measles will develop brain swelling, which could lead to brain damage
- 1 or 2 out of 1,000 people with measles will die, even with the best care
Here is the real problem of an autism epidemic. Autism is not communicable. There is no such thing as a genetic epidemic. People's genes do not change that quickly and they do not change all over the world among different populations spontaneously. It requires an environmental cause. That cause has to correlate with the autism epidemic.
It has to grow up in the last three decades. There was no epidemic in the 50's and 60's. There is now.
It has to be world wide.
It has to affect infants and toddlers.
It has to have access to the brain.
It has to be able to cause inflammation since autistic autopsies consistently show inflammation markers in the brains of autistic children.
Vaccines correlate as a possible environmental cause. So far, nobody has come up with another serious contender. Proof? A good lawyer can get them off the hook for beyond any reasonable doubt. On the other hand, vaccines are still the number one suspect in the autism epidemic. If doctors believed that vaccines caused autism then they would know that all of these cases of autism were done by their hands. That is a good reason for not wanting to believe that there is an autism epidemic.