Good article about autism in the LA Times

From the LA Times, finally, a sensible and extensive article by Alan Zarembo about the apparent rise in autism: Unraveling an epidemic.

Not once did the author use the word “vaccine.”

That’s good to know.

If the 1% estimates are true, that’s about the same prevalence as schizophrenia. And nobody’s getting all bent out of shape about there being an “epidemic” of schizophrenia.

True, but schizophrenia appears to be on the decrease, although that statistic may be subject to similar errors and biases in reverse (if no one is looking for it, it tends to not be found).

True. My point was simply that there seems to be a hysteria around autism that isn’t found with any of the other mental illnesses. I am aware of the reasons for that (thank you, Wakefield and McCarthy), but it still strikes me as ironic.

Please read this first.

This is the doctor we are currently taking our “autistic” son to. Our first visit was this last August. Since then, we submit weekly reports to Dr. Goldberg (dietary and behavioral journals) with blood work done every other month. There are small but perceptible improvements in our son’s language, gross & fine motor skills and school work. So far, so good.

Dr. Goldberg has been pushing for the therapy he has been doing for over a decade now, and to me, it makes sense that kids are being misdiagnosed purely as “Autistic” even though there are a lot of symptoms that match Autism with NIDS, that without a lengthy explanation, sometimes it easier to label the kids autistic rather than taking the time to explain the difference of the two disorders. One of the main difference between the two disorders is something easy to recognize though, Autistic children do not want to be held and are not affectionate, although children with NIDS are normally affectionate and liked to be held under normal situations. My son falls in the later category.

This doctor seems to be on to something, and for quite a while now…so why has he not been more successful with his testimonies? The CDC is quite content on the ASD label and definitions as they are now. In a way, this is quite tragic, because this means that government research money will not be approved to be sent to pharm companies to perform the research and development of medicine to relieve or even cure NIDS. The very governmental agency that shot down Dr. Wakefield (and rightly so) is now a hindrance to addressing this “epidemic” of misdiagnosed generation of kids.

Yes, my kid is “autistic” with the current CDC definition, but is more likely suffering from NIDS, which the CDC is currently not accepting.

Dr. Goldberg’s site.
His book.

Let me also add something regarding the thread I started asking for help to get a smart board in our class; it is still the right step to take for that class to help the kids in that class learn through visualization. That class is a special education class where the kids have been diagnosed on the spectrum, my son included. Right now, with what’s available, that’s the best fit for my kid right now.

Yeticus Rex, thanks for your info. I have only examined it superficially, but some parts raise some red flags. To quote Dr. Goldberg’s book site:

No, science does NOT say that, and the article I linked to in the OP flatly contradicts that statement. While a disease may be the cause, it’s entirely possible that the syndrome is a fabrication of statistics and not real.

If that is the way your links begin, I am reluctant to continue, as the prognosis is not good. I urge you to expand your horizons and consider all possibilities, not just those from one – possibly biased, and pseudo-medical – source.

Best wishes for your son. :slight_smile:

Wow, that Goldberg site is REALLY poorly written. At least he does reject the vaccine-autism link, but much of his research seems to mention case studies and small sample sizes.

I do wish you the best of luck in finding something that works for your son, Yeticus Rex.

Autism diagnosis depends on behavioral tests. It’s really as straightforward as going down a checklist of behavioral tests, and if check the yes box enough times you’re on the spectrum. Seattle Children’s Hospital Austism Clinic believes that in about 15% of the cases, they can pinpoint the autism cause. the rest is a mystery.

To the OP, yes I would agree that the definition of autism has expanded greatly and alone could explain the rise. For example, aspergers is now considered on the spectrum. When I was a child, many of the kids labeled as “mute” or “retarded” could easily have been non-verbal autistic. I do know that the team at the public school where my daughter attended kindergarten was “relieved” when we came in part way through the year with an official autism diagnosis because there were new autism budget buckets that they could tap into.

Another factor that seems to be studied a lot (but I’m not sure if any valid conclusions have been made) is that if both parents exhibit autistic traits, then the children are much more likely to be diagnosed. Eg, take two computer programmer “nerds” and their off spring have a greater chance of being autistic. This could explain why the silicon valley has a higher than average percentage. Of course, the high tech industry also tends to have good benefits so if you had an autistic child then there is an incentive to find a job with a company with good autism benefits. a kind of confirmation bias if you will.

Yeticus Rex, I hope that the approach helps your son.

To be charitable, the jury is out as to whether NIDS has any validity. The “hug” test is simplistic in the extreme and alone would raise flags.

I work for a big multinational with probably the best austism benefits in the US. There is an extremely large and active parents group. A small percentage follow a very strict diet for their kids and seems to think that helps.

Yeticus Rex, I respectfully disagree that autistic children “do not want to be held and are not affectionate.” While some may be like that, I know quite a few children (and adults, too) with autism who are affectionate and do like to be held.

There is a saying, “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.”

Please read this next.

It’s probably due to the age of onset. Most toddlers have parents who are absolutely devoted to them and full of dreams for their future. An autism diagnosis is very personal and becomes a big part of family life, and crushes a lot of the “this kid could be president one day” dreaming that parents of very young children indulge in.

Schizophrenia, for comparison, typically sets in during your mid-20s to early 30s. People that age are likely to be living independently, and so their diagnosis doesn’t really affect a family’s day-to-day life, and you are already well on your path to wherever you are going, which for most people isn’t that spectacular.

And a significant factor is the inability to definitively diagnose the situation. There is no test that can detect or confirm autism in a patient; it is a subjective analysis and open to interpretation.

Schizophrenia is treatable with drugs, and new ones come out all the time.

There is no pharmaceutical treatment for autism, unfortunately.

I am well aware of all of that, since clinical psychology is my specialty. I am simply making the statement that for the past decade or more, people have been shrieking about the autism “epidemic” while at the same time much more serious mental illnesses have continued to be ignored. Like I said before, I understand the reasons for the difference, but I like bringing it up whenever someone talks about the autism epidemic in order to provide a bit of perspective.

Musicat - wow, I didn’t even click on that first link, just the doctor’s. WHALE.TO??!?! REALLY? I can’t express in this forum the utter contempt and loathing I feel for that website, which I consider directly responsible for the ongoing spread of completely unsubstantiated health woo.

Then you may understand the reasons for the “shrieking” of parents of a 3 or 5 year old with an untreatable debilitating mental disease vs. parents of a 20 year old with a mental disease who can lead a productive life with the help of modern pharmaceuticals.

Please learn to read. I already stated, TWICE, in this thread, that I understand the reasons for the difference.

Your characterizing of it as “shrieking” says otherwise.

Think what you like.

Like autism, schizophrenia is a spectrum. 10 -15 percent of people with it will not respond to any treatment or medication, and will require ongoing hospitalization or group home residency. 10 percent of people will suicide. People with schizophrenia sometimes recover fully, sometimes recover somewhat, and sometimes don’t recover at all.

One of the reasons why the rates of autism are supposedly increasing is that a lot of the time when people talk about those rates, they include all of the autism spectrum disorders. Those including sensory integration disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, and full-blown “classic” autism. Given that most people with the first types of autism spectrum disorders are usually capable of independent living, and that the profound dysfunction is associated with the latter, it seems that the comparison of potential functioning between people with autism spectrum disorders and people with schizophrenia is apt.

I did not mean to hijack this discussion. I simply meant to offer the example of schizophrenia as another disorder that falls on a spectrum of dysfunction and response to treatment, about which we do not have a clear understanding of cause, and manifests in approximately the same rates. Autism manifests early, while most manifestations of schizophrenia are later in life (although childhood schizophrenia is possible, though rare).

My original point was simply to offer the rates of schizophrenia as perspective on the RATES of autism, not the age of manifestation or any other aspects.