Friday, April 11, 2014

At What Age Is Accurate Autism Diagnosis Possible?

Rates of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are not creeping up so much as leaping up. New numbers just released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that one in 68 children now has a diagnosis of ASD—a 30 percent increase in just two years. In 2002, about one in 150 children was considered autistic and in 1991 the figure was one in 500.
A clinician observes a child with his
mother at the Marcus Autism Center.
The staggering increase in cases of ASD should raise more suspicion in the medical community about its misdiagnosis and overdiagnosis than it does. Promoting early screening for autism is imperative. But, is it possible that the younger in age a child is when professionals screen for ASD—especially its milder cases—the greater the risk that a slow-to-mature child will be misperceived as autistic, thus driving the numbers up?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Opinion: Seeking Better Explanation for the Surge in Autism

The latest numbers from the Center for Disease Control showing a steep rise in the number of children with autism are so off the charts that it’s hard not to come to one of two conclusions: There’s something wrong in the way that we measure the data or there’s something extraordinary going on. 1 in 68 American children now has autism, up from 1 in 88 children just two years ago, an increase of 30 percent. A decade ago, one in 166 children were diagnosed as having autism. In 1975, it was 1 in 5000. Plot this as a graph using CDC data and you get a hockey stick curve showing exponential growth in autism over just the past decade.If you accept the first conclusion – that we’re simply not measuring autism correctly – there’s actually a fair amount of evidence to suggest that as much as 53 percent of the variation in data can be explained away by factors such as better diagnosis, better detection and better awareness. And it’s true that the very definition of “autism” continues to change to include a much wider description of symptoms along a spectrum, so it’s only natural to expect an increase in the number of cases if we’re making it easier to define people as having autism. There’s even a growing consensus in the scientific community that the current numbers are “no cause for alarm” and may actually underestimate the incidence of autism in the population, due to problems in collecting information in more rural areas and among some demographic groups. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The True Impact of DOJ-R.I. Settlement

PROVIDENCE, R.I.  — After a federal investigation found disabled Rhode Islanders were working long hours for criminally low wages, a new settlement aims to get better jobs for those individuals.The Target 12 Investigators unveiled last year that the Birch Vocational School and a sheltered workshop called Training Thru Placement, or TTP, was being investigated for violating the rights of those with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

A Lesson in Autism

Last year, the Beckers celebrated Autism Awareness Month by decorating their home in blue lights.
They have known since he was in preschool that their son Sam has autism spectrum disorder.
“I’m like Dopey,” Sam’s mother, Molly Becker, said, remembering what her son once said while watching Snow White. “I’m happy and I’m quiet and I’m different.”
But it wasn’t until last year that Sam acknowledged and accepted his disorder.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Focus on Health Care Needs Lacking

"You can't compete if your feet hurt, if your teeth hurt or if your ears ache."This quote from a Special Olympics athlete correctly sums up the motivation behind the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes Program.

Autism Training for Florida Firemen

ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. — With the number of people identified as having autism growing, a Fire District firefighter is training others in his agency in recognizing and interacting better with those with the developmental disability.Firefighter/paramedic Pete Villasuso, 39, whose son was diagnosed in 2012, said that he, another firefighter who has a child with autism and two other fire district members attended training in Fort Lauderdale in February and are educating co-workers. They'll be the first countywide fire rescue agency on the Treasure Coast with such specialized training.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Editorial: Intensify Efforts to Combat Autism

The rate for childhood autism in the U.S. has risen to a stunning one in 68, according to statistics released last week by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In New Jersey the rate is even higher — one in 45. And the rate is four times higher among boys than girls.
What’s going on here? Why has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) become a worldwide pandemic? Why is the incidence growing? In 1980, only three out of 10,000 children were diagnosed with the condition. While heightened awareness and earlier diagnosis may account for some of the rise in autism cases, experts agree that is only a part of the reason.