Autism still shrouded in mystery

Autism still shrouded in mystery

I have been writing letters to the editor of The Vindicator about autism for a decade now. My own son was diagnosed in 1998 and at that time the numbers were something like 1 in somewhere between 5,000/10,000 to now, 1 in 50 children. That just sounds so insane. How could doctors have missed all that autism many years ago? Where are the 1 in 50 adults with autism?

“Autism” is hard to explain to people who are unaffected by it. I say this because there is such a range in autism symptoms. Some see it as sort of a “gift” if they encounter a kind that seems to display itself in quirky talents such as being gifted in music, or having a great capacity for remembering dates of events. Others may have a more profound form of autism that causes a great range of negative issues like self-injury, aggression, or elopement. And there are many who function somewhere in the middle of “not so bad” to “terrible” range. Add to this, many people with “autism” have serious ongoing medical issues that may contribute to their symptoms. My own son deals with medical issues that have been very hard to gather answers for. He also does not speak. When a person can’t describe symptoms or how they are “feeling” it is very difficult to understand what is going on. Many doctors tend to be dismissive of “problems” since things easily get written off to this invisible autism thing. It is a most frustrating existence watching your loved one suffer and not really knowing how to help or find someone who can help.

Over the years I have seen many societal issues crop up with all this “autism”. Safety issues such as wandering away from caregivers which sometimes has deadly outcomes like drowning, or being hit by cars, or freezing to death in the elements. Autistic individuals becoming victims or sadly even perpetrators of abuse which sometimes ends in people dying. Police and first responders need to be trained specifically on how to deal with these unique individuals and their issues. Bullying of autistic individuals is a big problem. An inability to “read” social cues makes these kids prime targets for bullies.

The Centers of Disease and Control released a study just this past Friday once again saying that vaccines don’t cause autism. This study does not prove that at all. But, as usual the press misleads to believe it does. I encourage people who want to know more about this particular study to read the actual study (“Increasing Exposure to Antibody-Stimulating Proteins and Polysaccharides in Vaccines Is Not Associated with Risk of Autism” by Destefano et al. 2013). I also recommend reading Dr. Brian Hooker PhD’s analysis of the study. Dr. Hooker has extensively reviewed all the CDC studies related to autism and vaccines.

Andrea Keller, Canfield