Autism cases are on the rise again, largely due to wider screening and better diagnosis, federal health officials said Thursday.
The rate of U.S. cases rose to about 1 in 88 children, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The previous estimate was 1 in 110 two years ago.
The CDC study released Thursday is considered the most comprehensive U.S. investigation of autism prevalence to date. Researcher gathered data from areas in 14 states -- Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin.
What does this mean for families with children on the spectrum, and for the kids themselves?
Roy Richard Grinker, professor of anthropology, international affairs, and human sciences at George Washington University, will join The Daily Circuit Monday to talk about the latest numbers. He's the author of "Unstrange Minds: Remapping the World of Autism."
Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp and Colleen Boyle of the CDC will also join the discussion.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
The New York Times calls the new numbers "a puzzle."
From an email we just received through the Public Insight Network:
My name is Christopher Astacio, I am the father of Cristina, the beautiful little girl in the picture.
First, she is my world and I will go to the ends of the earth for her. I did not want to believe that my daughter was autistic rather I felt that maybe this was a phase that she will grow out of eventually. When she was born at just only 4lbs, Cristina failed to gain weight and bled internally from her intestines for the first 3 months of her life. After repeated tests, Cristina was found to be suffering from a severe milk allergy.
I thought the worst was over but I was wrong. At a year old, I would call her name repeatedly and she would never respond. She would cover her ears after hearing a loud sound and she could care less for interacting with her older brother as well as her mother and me. Once I came home from shopping for groceries and placed a 24-pack of water bottles on the floor. I opened the pack to drink one and as I turned my back, Cristina slowly crept up behind me and began to take the bottle out the package.
What she did next startled me.
She lined the bottles perfectly and just sat and stared at them. I wanted to encourage her creation so I gave her praise and told her that it was not time to clean up. As soon as I touched one bottle, she reacted as if I was hurting her, screaming as if something catastrophic had just occurred. She cried for an hour, flinging her arms and legs. I wanted to believe that it was just a mere temper tantrum but her behavior got worst.
Around 1 year and a half, Cristina barely had 5 words in her vocabulary. It was usually a guessing game with her when trying to calm her down during her tantrums. She began to hit, bite, and throw things out of frustrating, mainly because she could not communicate what she wanted.
I felt as if I was losing my daughter slowly.
I thank God for my wife who got her an appointment to be evaluated. Since I am a teacher and could not attend the evaluation, I eagerly waited for my wife's call for the results. Being in the field of special education, I was expecting some sort of behavioral problem or speech delay and never autism even though in my gut, I knew that was the case.
My wife, Charisse, finally called, barely able to speak, she confirmed my fears.... my daughter was autistic. While standing my classroom, my knees became week and I slowly feel to the ground. My daughter's life and the struggles she now faced flashed before my eyes. I felt like someone just cheated my daughter out of having a normal life... I was wrong... my daughter is the most special little girl in the world. We rearranged our lives to accommodate her 6 days a week intensive therapy. My wife was forced to take a pay cut to work from home 2 days out of the we ek. I took over my son's therapy visits since he suffers from anxiety disorder. After 4 months of therapy, my daughter called me papi and even gave me a hug. Something I thought she would never do. I thank God for getting me through stomach cancer and for giving my daughter back to me. My wife and I thank everyone who has supported and continues to support us.
Christopher Astacio reads with his daughter Cristina, 2, recently diagnosed with a mild form of autism, in her bedroom on Wednesday, March 28, 2012 in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
An MSNBC story about a study that examines why some kids with autism "bloom.":
Advice on what to do after your kid is diagnosed with autism:
#9: "Two words: Common sense. You will meet all manner of quacks, charlatans and idiots on your journey through the world of autism therapy. You will meet many people who will tell you, "I can cure your child." Remember, be skeptical. "
Guest Colleen Boyle: There is an increase of diagnosis in African Americans and Latinos. Children are being diagnosed earlier.
Only 18% of autistic children identified before age 3.
Why are more kids getting diagnosed? The CDC's Colleen Boyle says there is more awareness. better screening tools.
Screening information from the CDC.
Marshalyn Yeargin-Alsopp: Chief of the developmental disabilities branch of the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities at the Centers for Disease Control says we need to have regular screening at all well child check ups. Doctors need to listen to parents.
Boys have 5 times the prevalence of autism as girls. We don't know why.
Dr. Yeargin-Alsopp: Genetics are important. We know this from twins studies.
Is autism really a manifestation of poisoning from the environment?
Is autism being seen of as a whole body issue now or still as a brain issue?
Tony Atwood was a big help for one of our callers.
At what age do you start looking?
Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp says look at the milestones.
Co-morbidities with autism from Autism Help.
You should try to get Martha Herbert if you'd like to learn more about a whole body approach to autism. She is also coming out with a new book. I hope she will hit the trail with it and that you will get her to speak to the new paradigm of autism being a whole body disorder:-)
Here's Dr. Herbert's webpage.
If there is a genetic component, can couples use any information predict risk. For example, I read an article by Simon Baron-Cohen in Time about autism and marriage patterns, saying risks increase when both parents are engineers?
The better diagnosis and screening excuse by the CDC is laughable. It still takes anywhere from 6 months to a year for a child to get a diagnosis.
And you can walk into any public school in America and ask about the growing need for funding and teachers in the ESE (special needs) department. This is NOT better screening. This is an explosion of rates. Where is the urgency by our government to stop this?
Where is the reporting about the high incidence of seizures once these 1 IN 54 BOYS hit puberty?
Joe in Minneapolis from our Send Us a Question page:
"Isn't autism related to an overactivation of testosterone? If so that would seem to have something to do with its greater prevalence among boys."
Diet modification (gluten free, dairy free, soy free, egg free) has made a big difference for our child. Why do most doctors still dwell on behavioral modification and drugs as the only remediation factors worthy of insurance coverage? Nutrition and detoxification deserve more attention-since they make a profound difference for many children on the spectrum.
Carlos says diet made a difference for his family. How about your family?
Judy submitted a comment to our webpage:
"Like ADHD, it's overdiagnosed and, therefore, overprescribed in order to receive benefits and subsidies to schools and parents."
From Pete in Hutchinson:
"Isn't the dramatic increase in incidence rates of autism due to increasing diagnoses of the milder forms--aspergers, pdd-nos, etc.?"
Dr. Richard Grinker: It is verry difficult to determine environmental factors because we need to include every thing in our world. It is a fishing expedition. There was a correlation between rain and autism in one study. That is not a valid study.
Environmental factors worry all parents with children with autism.
Have there been any studies looking at increased antibiotic use and autism increasing?
Karen from Shoreview wrote in:
"What would explain why people my age (69) did not see or hear of anyone with autism, even symptoms associated with it, until I had children of my own."
Mercury is all over the place not just in fish or vaccines or dental amalgams and in rain from coal burning plants. Mercury is one of the "usual suspects" when it comes to obvious associations to human health (like lead). Reference Autism Overloaded study by EWG... kids with autism cannot detoxify heavy metals as readily as general public.
Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp: No studies show that gluten-free diets make a difference. But she does acknowledge that many parents say they see a difference.
Richard Grinker says that we have expanded what we think of as autism. There is a redefinition of the autism spectrum. This has brought about a decrease in stigma for the high functioning.
When the new DSM will be published there is going to be a re-grouping of autism spectrum disorders. It is going to be a big change. Will affect how people are diagnosed, categorized and help doctors see how their patients might change as they grow.
Antibiotics trash the gut and compromise the immune system. This is a huge problem when children go in for their "well" visits and are vaccinated shortly after being treated for sickness with antibiotics or Tylenol (which lowers methylation capacity in children).
Paul H. Patterson has written a book that discusses how infection may cause autism. The book is Infectious Behavior: Brain-Immune Connections in Autism, Schizophenia, and Depression. It is published by the MIT Press. Are today's guests aware of this book?
My sister-in-law got her 4 year old son diagnosed with a mild form of Autism.
I encouraged her to seek for other child psychologist's opinion. They found out that he was not an "autist", he needed more attention and encouragement from his parents to get him involved in activities and socialize with other kids. He is doing great mow and you would not even imagine that he got ever been diagnosed with that personality disorder.
Has there ever been a study looking at the nutrition of the mother during prenancy...seems obvious as our nation becomes more and more unhealthy
Parental contributions to the field should not be ignored. "Official Studies" showed smoking was safe too- beware of studies that seem to distract our attention from obvious connections. Diet makes a huge difference in diabetes but not autism? This thinking doesn't make any sense.
Richard Grinker says he is seeing more students with autism at his college than ever before.
An excellent movie on how humane autistics are treated in Scandinavian countries, "Elling", available online.....
Richatrd Grinker's daughter with autism went to a job interview last year and declared, "I am full of autism."
The CDC is studying the link between testosterone and autism.
Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp: The CDC, in their study of autism, is looking at nutritional patterns in pregnant women and babies. The link is unstudied at the moment.
We should all keep a nutrition diary. We are what we eat- right?
Ed note: I dread what it would tell me. I am Grand Old Creamery ice cream in that case.
did i actually see a post about mercury they took that out of vaccines years ago it has nothing to do with autism anyone claiming they know what causes it is lying.
diet is so different between families it is unlikely that is a cause.
has anyone thought to look at evolution trying to improve the way our brain works as a cause?
Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp: resources should be spent on studying which intervention works. We don't know which children respond to intervention.
@Carlos Grados Diversify and enjoy the healthy variety that exists. It's an adventure worth taking.
Ed Note: Will try. Just added harissa to the diet. Makes everything taste good.
I really do appreciate the comment on focusing on ability/strength of autistic child.
The problem I think is our current school curriculum does not offer sufficient support for their learning style. For example my autistic son is very good with figures and maths overall, but when math problem is presented to him in word form, he does not comprehend well and tends fail in regards
@sir3ron Mercury is still used in the flu vaccine according to my sources. Evolution is very important- the study is called epigenetics. Check it out!
Thanks for doing this program. It is worth your attention even when it isn't highlighted by a national awareness day.
Ed. note: Indeed. We always get a big reaction from the audience when we have shows on autism. What struck me with this conversation is how much the CDC guest said "yep, we're studying that."
There are so many unknowns out there. Too many.
Hi, I am wondering the prevalence of adults who may have some form of autism but have not ever been diagnosed at all, as I find several symptoms of it in myself.
@Carlos Grados mercury was taken out of children's vaccine's in 2003 just because of pressure from autism threat before any evidence was shown if it was a cause reports of autism would have dropped not increased. evidence and real science based studies show it has nothing to do with autism. if mercury is in flu vaccine it would have been taken out of the one they give you when your 6 months old due to political pressure.
Today is Autism Awareness Day. There is a new study from CDC saying that autism is more prevalent than we previously thought. Here's that report.
Should this increase in diagnosis change how we treat, identify and support children with autism?
i think 2003 is the correct year (to lazy to look up right now :P )
ok, so i looked it up thiomersal was removed from children's vaccines in 2001
I think that toxins shouldn't be in food or in our environment. There is NO healthy role for mercury to play in human beings- period. It doesn't belong in our bodies- and I am sure that science will agree with my controversial position. If you want mercury in your body there is nothing I can say to convince you- science or no science. Be healthy!