Let's talk about the autism "epidemic"
Shortly after my son was diagnosed with autism, my grandmother, in her 70's, asked me why "there seems to be so much more autism now."
I said "Grandma, when you were a little girl in school, do you remember if there was a 'special ed' class where they put all the slow kids?"
She said yes, in fact, they had a whole trailer separate from the building.
I said to her "Grandma, those kids weren't 'slow.' They just didn't know what to diagnose them with. A whole trailer full of kids separate from the rest of the school, how many of them do you think might have had autism?"
Since having been diagnosed as an adult, I've talked to countless others who have also done the same or at the very least, wonder if it's worth being assessed. Even more still feel they are likely on the spectrum but don't think it's worth going for an assessment.
Well, consider this... the number of people being diagnosed with autism went up by one the day that I was diagnosed. What would the number go up by if all those people who are simply curious were to go in for an assessment? None of those people were assessed as a child, when they probably should have been.
Have you seen more and more articles about girls on the spectrum lately? How they exhibit different symptoms and behaviours than boys? How doctors often miss the signs in girls?
It's my theory, and I'm no doctor or scientist or researcher, that girls are born with autism just as frequently as boys are only, most people just never notice. But as we all learn more and more and figure out the signs, more and more girls will be diagnosed.
Let's not even begin to discuss just how few doctors really are qualified enough to make a diagnosis, much less the family doctors that continue to tell us "Einstein talked later too, I'm sure your child is fine". Or the doctors that refuse to diagnose anyone with anything for fear of "over diagnosis" or the doctors that diagnose everyone with everything as a "favour" to help them get better services.
Then there's you and me, the teachers, the child care workers and all those others that are able to recognize the signs earlier thanks to all these years of autism awareness that we work so hard for.
What will happen to the autism rates when girls are diagnosed just as much as boys? What will happen to autism rates when all those adults that were missed as children are counted now?
Is the number of people being diagnosed with autism going to continue going up? Well, yes, it will.
But it's not a bad thing.
We're not calling people "slow" anymore. We're not missing it in girls as much. Adults that were missed when they were younger are figuring out who they really are, finally. Doctors are learning, people everywhere are learning!
This is all good news.
We need to stop being so afraid of these numbers.