In the last few weeks, new autism figures have created widespread controversy among American parents. In early April, the CDC released its latest, shocking report on the disorder, which showed a massive uptick in the number of diagnoses — according to the numbers, one in 88 children and one in 54 boys are now on the autism spectrum. That’s an astonishing 78 percent increase since 2002. In the weeks since, pundits and doctors have spent a lot of time debating what these changes actually mean: Are they due to increased detection, loosened definitions of autism or are we in the middle of a genuine upsurge in autism among American children? As Dr. Thomas Frieden, the director of the CDC, told reporters, this change may “entirely the result of better detection. We don’t know whether or not that is the case.”
For Temple Grandin, the country’s most high-profile autistic person, this news is a source of both relief and concern.