By Lisa Ackerman
The CDC recently announced: they are stepping up autism monitoring (1.) At first, I got excited:
Researchers at 10 sites across the country will comb data from 2014 to determine up-to-date autism rates in their communities, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced this month.
Then I read further:
As in the past, the 10 sites selected for the 2014 data collection will scrutinize medical and educational records for 8-year-old children in their area to determine how many fall on the autism spectrum. Meanwhile, six of the sites will also assess records for 4-year-old children.
Well, there are still a lot of individuals with autism missing from this survey– including adults and anyone who is not 4 or 8 years old. Wait a minute? Did you know autism rates are still calculated via a survey? Here is a handy graphic for how the 2014 prevalence rates were calculated. These methods are similar to the previous rate collection years.
Dr Bob Sears and I have written about this topic for years. With each announcement of an even higher prevalence, autism is not getting attention, support or resources (2.) Families are left alone. Support dwindles.
Recently, a MIT Researcher rang the alarm bell of concern. Her ominous prediction states that 1 in 2 children will have autism in 2025 (3.) Here is an excerpt:
Dr. Stephanie Seneff, research scientist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), made a dire prediction earlier this month during an event sponsored by the Groton Wellness organization. She said,
“At today’s rate, by 2025, one in two children will be autistic. “
This is a sobering prediction. If you have children, are pregnant or are expecting grandchildren this should be a wake up call. Let’s just look at the past four CDC surveys on autism prevalence.
Let’s break this down to something everyone understands: money. U.S. Autism costs are currently $137 billion annually (4.) Back in a 2012 blog I wrote:
It is important to note that an estimated 80% of those living with autism are ages 22 years or younger. We don’t have enough data to calculate the lifetime costs of autism. Based on what we know today, it is estimated that these costs are $3-5 million per affected individual. Sadly, with articles highlighting the tripling of costs, we don’t see this trend slowing down anytime soon.
With the recent downturn in the economy, special needs families are being hit hard; support services are drying up. Assistance for families is dwindling while the pool for those needing help is soaring. Supporting families living with autism has become harder. At TACA, we have fewer tools to assist these families than we had just a few years ago.
Here is an excerpt from a recent article featured in the Disability Scoop online news site highlighting the soaring costs of autism:
“We are paying for the costs of inaction and the costs of ‘inappropriate action,’” said David Mandell of the University of Pennsylvania, who is behind the research. “Social exclusion of individuals with autism and intellectual disability, and exclusion of higher-functioning individuals from employment opportunities are increasing the burden not only on these individuals and their families, but on society as a whole.”
At TACA, we agree. What can’t be measured is the hardship endured by families and individuals living with autism. Those costs are much higher.
What we don’t know about the next generation of autism prevalence coming up is– how will the new way autism is diagnosed affect prevalence AND how long the shift will take in the prevalence figures? The DSM 5 has now eliminated Aspergers and PDD-NOS as a diagnosis (5.)
The biggest question is this: What constitutes an emergency?? When 1 in 68 children are being diagnosed with autism and it doesn’t appear there is much concern for families and their children .What number does prevalence need to be (6?) The potential answer to this question really scares me.
Because if you don’t know someone with autism yet, just wait. You soon will.