World Autism “Awareness” Day 2012 and We Are Not Buying It Any More

Did you hear the crashing thud last week when the CDC announced that 1 out of every 88 children has Autism? That was the sound of the medical establishment losing its moral authority in the Autism conversation.   Despite Tom Insel, head of the IACC, spinning the message again as “better diagnosing”, the sharp reality of the rise of the Autism numbers cut through his assurances.

We are at a watershed moment much like a point in the television news coverage of the Vietnam War immediately following the Tet Offensive in January 1968. The horrific images caught on camera and the number of reported casualties was so grim they didn’t match the cheery sound bites fed to the media from the American military leadership.

In the Autism Crisis, you could see the beginning of a palpable shift last week. In the news coverage you glimpsed a bit of skepticism in the eyes of the reporters being fed the same lines, by the parade of frequent denialists, that were the mainstay of the conversation several years ago when the new number was 1 out of 150 children. Perhaps this is because Autistic children aren’t just statistics anymore; they belong to every one of us.  There isn’t anyone left who doesn’t have a connection to an Autistic child. The party line “better diagnostics” doesn’t fit with what every single one of us, including the camera man and reporter, is experiencing on the ground. We see Autistic children everywhere. And the second equally clear reality; we didn’t grow up with Autistic children.

People then say, “Well they were sent away.” Away where?  De-institutionalization began in 1963 so conservatively from 1970 forward 1 out of every 88 children would have been Autistic and living right in our communities. But they weren’t because they didn’t exist.  I am a clinical social worker and in the 1990’s I worked for a large public community mental health agency.  My patients were primarily chronically mentally ill adults, many of which lived in group homes we supervised. There were no Autistic adults. I saw Schizophrenia and trauma and clients dually diagnosed with psychiatric and substance abuse issues. Frankly I saw it all and it was pretty rough, but I never saw Autism.

Doctors aren’t, as a stereotype, known for their small egos, yet last week they allowed themselves to be blamed for misdiagnosing Autism since the 1940’s. With a small exception of subtle cases, Autism is not hard to diagnose. Granted as an Autism mom I’ve become more familiar than the average civilian, yet with no medical training, I can spot a kid on the Spectrum from three aisles away in Target on a busy Saturday morning. It’s mind boggling that as an entire profession doctors are letting themselves take the fall for missing thousands and thousands of children who would have been flapping, stimming, possibly nonverbal, in diapers at 10 years old, and in some occasions violent. Yet, we didn’t hear doctors utter a peep in defense of their profession last week. Are we really to believe they would take this level of criticism without firing back? If we are willing to accept that our physicians are that poorly trained and that incompetent aren’t we terrified as a nation about our medical care? For any other profession accused of this level of incompetence there would be Congressional Hearings!  They didn’t misdiagnose these children because they didn’t exist. “Better diagnosing” is bullshit.

Parents no longer believe what they are told about Autism or vaccine safety in the news because it is incongruous with what they are experiencing in their lives; we see more Autistic children every year and we hear vaccine injury stories far too frequently. The word ‘mystery’ doesn’t fit for Autism any more either and neither does saying “we have no idea”. Parents aren’t buying it. We have seen too many linear experiences of regression into Autism following vaccine injury.  Doctors cannot point to actual safety studies for the current vaccine schedule because they haven’t been done.  Because the medical establishment has refused to study vaccine safety with any credibility, parents are left with only one reasonable option given these soaring Autism numbers – to opt out of vaccination.


The toothpaste is out of the tube. Like Westmoreland during Vietnam, Insel can continue to spew platitudes, but public support is no longer with the ‘war on disease’ as it is being fought with the unwinnable strategy of the most aggressive vaccine schedule of any country on earth.  Parents are asking whose war is this anyway?  Why is the government more preoccupied with my child’s vaccination status than I am as the parent? Like the moms of Vietnam soldiers, we Autism moms have come to understand that our children were  considered necessary and acceptable collateral damage in the war on disease. I have never met a parent willing to sacrifice their child for the greater good of the herd.

Under the current administration we have seen a huge increase in Autism and no leadership to speak of. The people in charge don’t know what they’re doing and have proven they can’t be trusted. In a domineering relationship there comes a moment, as quick as the green flash as the sun sets at the horizons edge, where the submissive partner takes their power back for good. Parents are taking back control of their children’s health. This is the dawn of a new era in Autism leadership.


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