I can hear the people screaming.... "Autism Epidemic!!! Run for the hills!!! Don't vaccinate your children!!! It is a government conspiracy!!!"
I am on the lookout for Jenny McCarthy, but so far, her mug has not found its way to the big news stations yet.
Here are some take-home points:
(to save some time here, I will be short and to the point)
1. Widened diagnostic criteria that now defines a Spectrum of Autism, not just "Autism" or "Aspergers". Very mild cases are included in these statistics.
2. Earlier diagnosis methods and early intervention is becoming better and better. We are able to identify children on the spectrum much earlier, which means in a population total, the numbers will be higher.
3. The stigma of having an Autism Spectrum Disorder is much less than in the past, and there are a plethora of services offered by the government to treat these disorders, so parents are more willing to "allow" their child to have that label after evaluation. In the past, I knew of parents who had a child on the spectrum but did not want their child to have that label, so they settled on "Learning Disabled" instead.
4. To play Devil's Advocate.... if vaccines are the Big Bad Wolf, then why has the prevalence increased? Fewer people are vaccinating their children, and we no longer use thimerosal, the proposed evil substance (not since around 2000), so shouldn't the numbers be decreasing if vaccines were the cause?
Just food for thought....