What exactly is autism? Why have the rates increased rapidly to one in 44 children?
When I ask “what exactly is autism?” I do so because autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is exactly that, an extremely wide spectrum.
On one end of the spectrum you have people and children nobody would ever guess would be on the spectrum. And on the other end you have people and children who cannot speak or have very limited speech and social communication skills. These people and children may have severe sensory processing issues and extreme difficulty with changes in routine.
But there are other issues regarding autism, what it is and its causes that are not being discussed. We will get to that later in the article.
According to the CDC,
“Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain. People with ASD often have problems with social communication and interaction, and restricted or repetitive behaviors or interests. People with ASD may also have different ways of learning, moving, or paying attention.”
In some cases, I believe many children who are diagnosed with ASD don’t even have these differences in the brain, and have been misdiagnosed for simply having certain behaviours and tendencies as a child.
The pharmaceutical industry has definitely taken advantage of this label, as have many others. Psychiatry has become a proving ground for outrageous manipulations of science in the service of profit.
Furthermore, I have issues looking at all people and kids on the spectrum as having a ‘disability.’ I just don’t like that word. Perhaps, maybe, because it implies some sort of intellectual disability. But let me be clear, autism is NOT an intellectual disability. Deficits in intellectual ability are not a part of the criteria for diagnosis of autism. But this is changing.
“Intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder frequently co-occur” according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Definitions of mental disorders are constantly changing, and as a result, the incidents of “false positives” are increasing as more criteria for a diagnosis are added to the list.
“[DSM-V] is a wholesale imperial medicalization of normality that will trivialize mental disorder and lead to a deluge of unneeded medication treatment – a bonanza for the pharmaceutical industry but at a huge cost to the new false positive patients caught in the excessively wide DSM-V net.” – Allen Frances, DSMIV Taskforce Chair, Professor and Chairman Emeritus of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences at Duke University School of Medicine
A child with severe autism may be unable make eye contact and communicate the way most humans do, but they may also very well be extremely bright with an intelligence and intellect beyond anything we are capable of understanding.
Many of these autistic people and children may go their entire lives not being recognized as ‘intelligent,’ despite the fact that they are indeed “all there.” On the other hand, many are recognized, these are referred to as autistic savants.
Autistic savants are capable of extraordinary and unexplainable phenomenon. For example, autistic twins studied by Oliver Sacks could provide prime numbers in up to 20 digits, without knowing basic math.
There are other phenomena that have been observed as well.
“Being incapable of speech from an early age increases their motivation to find alternative means of communication with their caregivers but that isn’t all. Autism expert Bernard Rimland, PhD reported “ESP” as existing in a small percentage of his patients, and considered it to be a savant skill.” — Dr. Diane Hennacy Powell, MD, Neuroscientist and Psychotherapist
In September 2015, Powell published a paper in Edge Science, a publication put out by the Journal of Scientific Exploration titled “Autistics, Savants, and Psi: A Radical Theory of Mind.”
In it she provides multiple examples of autistic savants she has investigated over the years, including some interesting cases of telepathic ones. One in particular, written about in the paper linked above, is the case of a little girl nicknamed Haley. She was referred to Powell by Dr. Darold A. Treffert, a psychiatrist and research director who specialized in the epidemiology of autism spectrum disorders and savant syndrome. Hayley showed remarkable telepathic abilities.
It reminds me a little bit of the “ADHD” label. How often do you hear that cognitive neuroscience shows that people with an ADHD diagnosis are very creative thinkers that have difficulty suppressing brain activity that comes from the “imagination network?”
This suggests people with ADHD might have differences in parts of the brain that actually makes them highly skilled in certain regards, yet we are defining them as only having a problem.
Some say ASD should be described as Always Unique Totally Intelligent Sometimes Mysterious.
Something to think about it.
Also on the spectrum are people who clearly have brain damage and abnormalities that, in my opinion, does qualify them as having a disability.
These differences in the brain are, at least we’ve been made to believe, a result of genetic factors. But it’s now being discovered that in these cases, many environmental factors are probably at play.
“Although the involvement of genetic abnormalities in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is well-accepted, recent studies point to an equal contribution by environmental factors, particularly environmental toxicants.” – Environmental toxicants and autism spectrum disorders: a systematic review
Based on my research and opinion, environmental toxins are now the leading cause of what we consider to be ASD. In other cases, genetics may play a factor. Some people may have genetic susceptibilities to certain environmental toxins compared to others, and what one person on the spectrum has, be it enhanced capabilities and superior abilities in some areas, may be completely different from someone on the other end of the spectrum who is suffering from brain damage as a result of environmental pesticides, for example. What causes one may have nothing to do others who are on a different end the spectrum.
This brings me to my next discussion.
Why Have The Rates Gone From 3 per 10,000 to 1 per 4 Kids? What’s Going On?
ASD prevalence among children aged 6 to 11 years increased from 3 per 10,000 in 1991-1992 to 52 per 10,000 in 2001-2002.
A new study published in Autism Research shows that about 100 in 10,000 (or 1 in 100) children around the world are diagnosed with ASD. According to the CDC, 1 in 44 children will be diagnosed with ASD.
A big belief out there seems to be that the increase in autism prevalence around the world reflects in part the impact of public health efforts to raise global awareness of autism spectrum disorder.
According to Autism Speaks, an organization raising awareness about autism to help autistic people reach their full potential,
“The global increase in autism prevalence reflects major improvements in public awareness and public health response to autism. Children are now more likely to be diagnosed earlier, and even underrepresented regions like Africa and the Middle East have been advancing their ability to measure autism prevalence. Future research will need to focus on the factors causing differences in autism prevalence around the world.”
But how come federal health authorities and “mainstream” autism organizations never seem to mention other factors that have been linked to ASD that might be responsible for the increasing prevalence we are seeing all over the world?
The literature is abundant when it comes to environmental toxins like prescription drugs during pregnancy and fetal development, unnatural sources of electromagnetic radiation, prenatal and infant pesticide exposure, phthalates, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), solvents, toxic waste sites, air pollutants and heavy metals.
A favourite quote of mine that highlights the sharp contrast between science and industry ‘science’ below,
“It is commonly believed that Roundup is among the safest pesticides. This idea is spread by manufacturers, mostly in the reviews they promote, which are often cited in toxicological evaluations of glyphosate-based herbicides. However, Roundup was found in this experiment to be 125 times more toxic than glyphosate. Moreover, despite its reputation, Roundup was by far the most toxic among the herbicides and insecticides tested. This inconsistency between scientific fact and industrial claim may be attributed to huge economic interests, which have been found to falsify health risk assessments and delay health policy decisions” — R. Mesnage et al., Biomed Research International, Volume 2014 (2014) article ID 179691
Keep in mind that the use of glyphosate and other pesticides rose 1500% from 1995 to 2005, and that 100 million pounds of glyphosate are used every year on more than a billion acres. Only now are some countries banning its use.
The tobacco companies denied the link between smoking and cancer, and took decades to recognize the truth. The biotech and agrochemical corporations are the same as the tobacco industry; they lie and favor their business over the health of the population.
According to a 2019 study published in Pediatric Health Medicine and Therapeutics , there is “a significant relationship between mercury concentration and autism. Thus, the concentration of mercury can be listed as a pathogenic cause (disease-causing) for autism.”
The study also found significant amounts of lead exist within the brains of people with autism.
As the study explains:
“In this study, searching Scopus, PubMed, and Science Direct databases, 18 articles conducted in different countries from 1982 to 2019 were collected. Studies’ heterogeneity was investigated using the I2 index. The data were analyzed using R and STATA software.
In these 18 studies, 1797 patients (981 cases and 816 controls) aged 2 to 16 years were examined. Concentration of the samples (blood, hair, and nails) for both case and control groups was evaluated. There was no significant relationship between copper concentration and autism (SMD (95% CI): 0.02 (− 1.16,1.20); I2=97.7%; P=0.972); there was a significant relationship between mercury concentration and autism (SMD (95% CI): 1.96 (0.56,3.35); I2=98.6%; P=0.006); there was also a significant relationship between lead concentration and autism (SMD (95% CI): 2.81 (1.64,3.98); I2=97.8%; P=0.000).”
This is quite a significant finding, and complements other large studies previously done. A 2013 meta-analysis published in the Journal Bio Med Research International found that,
“The studies upon which the CDC relies and over which it exerted some level of control report that there is no increased risk of autism from exposure to organic Hg in vaccines, and some of these studies even reported that exposure to Thimerosal appeared to decrease the risk of autism. These six studies are in sharp contrast to research conducted by independent researchers over the past 75+ years that have consistently found Thimerosal to be harmful. As mentioned in the Introduction section, many studies conducted by independent investigators have found Thimerosal to be associated with neurodevelopmental disorders. Considering that there are many studies conducted by independent researchers which show a relationship between Thimerosal and neurodevelopmental disorders, the results of the six studies examined in this review, particularly those showing the protective effects of Thimerosal, should bring into question the validity of the methodology used in the studies.”
In nature, toxic metals generally are bound with other elements rather than being present in their pure form. However, with the advent of large-scale industrial processes to extract metals from naturally occurring compounds, humans are contributing significantly to the distribution of mercury, aluminum and other heavy metals in the environment.
When released from nature’s semi-protective hold, these “invariably toxic” metals wreak havoc on living systems, including humans, animals and all other living systems.
A 2020 study published found that the aluminum content in brain tissue of people with Alzheimer’s disease, familial Alzheimer’s disease, autism spectrum disorder, and multiple sclerosis is significantly higher compared to tissues used in the study as controls.
The research group that conducted that study has looked at more than 100 brains, and has emphasized multiple times that what has been seen in these autistic and Alzheimer’s brains is clearly and obviously not normal. What’s also interesting to note from this research is the difference between injected and ingested aluminum. You can read more about that, in depth, here.
At the end of the day, when it comes to autism awareness there seems to be no effort on the part of major organizations, like Autism Speaks, to discuss the problem of environmental factors that are most likely contributing to rising rates across the world. It just seems like there is no discussion at all.
Sure, these organizations are satisfactory when it comes to helping people with an ASD diagnosis, and in helping people understand and recognize the signs of people and children with ASD, but there is still a big elephant in the room that’s not being addressed. Why? Is “autism awareness” really happening the way it should be?