Posts Tagged ‘autism’
originally posted on Oct 12, 2009
Reports released by the CDC on Oct 5 reveal what many parents and professionals have long been claiming – the rate of autism among American children is on a steep incline. While previous studies indicated that 1 in 150 children had been diagnosed with a disorder on the autism spectrum, two important new studies revealed that the current numbers are a whopping 1 in 91 children. These reports were conducted using the exact same methods as previous numbers, which eliminates the possibility that the numbers were distorted somehow during collection or compilation. In some European countries the rates are already even higher – as high as 1 in every 50 children – and even higher among young boys. This silent epidemic is sweeping our countries and dramatically affecting our most valued and vulnerable population – but why? And how?
Multiple theories exist – many of which should have been abandoned long ago. One common argument among some ill informed care providers is that the diagnostic criteria are slacker and the diagnosis is being handed out far too easily than in previous years. This notion is a convenient one, as it often follows a parent’s questioning of vaccine safety and allows the parent to be reassured of both vaccine safety and their child’s development in one fell swoop. Unfortunately, it is simply not true. Many parents of children on the autism spectrum have to wait years for a diagnosis and often have to advocate for their child to receive the help he or she needs. Many of the signs of autism spectrum disorders are blatantly obvious – even to the untrained eye – and could not have been merely overlooked years ago. When a three or four year old is non verbal or a two year old literally trembles with fear and runs to hide in the back of a dark closet when company comes over, parents notice. And they ask questions. These things were not simply missed 5 or 10 years ago.
To be fair – there is a small number of high functioning children (children with less noticeable signs of autism) that may have been considered to be simply uncooperative or strong willed a few years ago, but professionals estimate that these few children account for less than 30% of the overall increase in numbers – leaving little explanation for the rest of the cases.
Other old theories include the genetic argument. We have probably all heard that autism is a genetic disorder, which reassures those of us that don’t apparently have autism in our family. Yet, this theory is not at all plausible – especially in light of these new numbers. Genes simply cannot change that fast. Autism is epidemic, and there is no such thing as a genetic epidemic. It is not scientifically feasible. Furthermore, the massive amounts of money that have been spent by the National Institute of Health have revealed loose links with nearly every chromosome.
Yet, while the NIH may have been looking in the wrong place, researchers from other organizations, most notably the Autism Research Institute, have found other important factors that may largely explain this dramatic and downright scary increase: environmental factors. The CDC does acknowledge that environmental factors play a significant role in autism, but according to Cathy Rice, a CDC researcher (who also led the new study), “Our research tools just are not as good for understanding them.”
These factors include heavy metals, pesticides, flame retardants, vaccinations, pharmaceutical overuse, nutritional deficiencies, air pollutants and even medical interventions during pregnancy and childbirth. While environmentalism is often considered to be a luxurious worry of the wealthy with plenty of leisure time, the effects of ignoring environmental risks are affecting our children in measurable ways. The current evidence points to what has been termed the multiple trigger theory – which basically means that our individual bodies each have a predisposed tolerance point. When a combination of these factors (many of which are mentioned above) build up within our child’s body, they cross that line and begin to affect growth and development. Autism is a medical condition – not a psychological one, and the signs and symptoms include much more than the traditional social anxiety and lack of communication. Children on the spectrum often have decreased immunity, recurrent ear infections, leaky gut syndrome (which leads to decreased nutrient absorption and intestinal flora imbalances), and other very real physical manifestations.
Perhaps the most important aspect of this new information is that 38% of parents in one study revealed that their children no longer qualified for a diagnosis. Over 1/3 of the children initially diagnosed with autism overcame the disorder! This is incredibly significant, as it reveals that for some children, this situation is reversible. Since every single child on the spectrum battles a different set of signs and symptoms, and entered the spectrum due to a vastly different set of factors, this recovery is not possible for every single child. However, with treatment and interventions, many children can and do recover and with life long prevention, can return to their previous health. It also tells us that these treatments serve as very good prevention methods, potentially preventing a child from initially crossing this unknown tolerance limit.
These treatments and interventions are covered in many of the Vintage Remedies School of Natural Health’s distance learning courses, and a list of licensed care providers that offer individualized assistance for children on the spectrum can be found at www.Autism.com (As a side note: We also highly recommend the care providers on this list for anyone seeking a holistic family doctor as these providers are often trained in additional methods of integrative medicine and / or open to natural health options.)