Autism rates in the US (ages 2 – 17) are now at 1 in 100. One percent.

It wasn’t very long ago it was 1 in 10,000. Or even 1 in 166. Or 1 in 150.

Actually, if you factor in the .6% that had a ASD at one time, but don’t now, we’re down to 1 in 58. Age of Autism has had some really great articles on the subject, but I feel like we’re all just shouting into a vacuum.

According to the NIH, whose studies can be found here, in 2007 that works out to: 1.7% of boys currently have an ASD diagnosis (and .9% used to have one). Girls are at .4% with ASD, and .3% for used to have an ASD.  (Just enter “autism” in the search box & follow the prompts)

Something is terribly wrong. It isn’t just better diagnosis.  It isn’t that parents want the new “cool” disorder labeled on their child.  I wrote a piece on my other blog It’s All About Potential on this same subject, but am repeating & expanding on some of it here too.

I am just SICK to find out that rates of Autism are this high.  Why is no one doing anything?  Why does my family continue to look at me like I grew a third eyeball when I say “my children will not be getting the H1N1 vaccine”?  (My children are not going to be guinea pigs, sorry.)  Why do I feel like the only thing I talk about these days is Autism?

Do you know what I think the real “problem” is?  People still see ASD as a death-sentence.  A death to all their dreams, goals and opportunities for their child.  They see Autism as a form of mental retardation or mental illness.  (The fact that it is considered “only” a pyschiatric disorder may help that perception)  And, what do we do about mental illness?

We shun it.  We ignore it.  We pretend that it doesn’t affect us or even exist outside our cozy little world.  We pretend that the only treatment is behavioural intervention and drugs.  Lots of drugs if possible.  Certainly that is better than finding the root cause of the problem?  If you have a headache, take a Tylenol.  (Don’t bother to turn down the music, that can’t be the problem)

But back to the statistics.  My son’s school has about 75 children enrolled.  Using the 1 in 100 stat, there should be 1 or less kids with ASD.  Using the 1 in 58, there should be 1 to 2 children.  Well, there are for sure 2.  (I think there is at least a third, but that’s just my own opinion)  So, even in that small population, the stats bear it out.

Here’s the thing.  Both the children with confirmed ASD were born in 2003.  Thimerosal has been removed from Canadian vaccines since long before 2003.  My son never received a flu shot either.  He didn’t get Hep B at birth but he did receive all his routine vaccines on time.

After the age of 6 months, he got most of them likely harboring an ear infection.  He was on many rounds of antibiotics and had general anesthesia at 16 months when he had ventilation tubes inserted in his ears.  His little body was just constantly assaulted with infection and trauma.

To me, any of those things could be the “trigger” for his autism.

Except.

I don’t believe that “having” an ASD is a problem.  It is simply a different way of looking at and relating to the world.   I believe that he was born this way and that is okay.

The problem is that he is not healthy.  The fact that he can’t eat gluten or casein foods without going into meltdown mode is Not Healthy.  The fact that he has consistently nasty BMs is Not Healthy.  The fact that he is chronically with a stuffy nose is Not Healthy. 

And, all those things contribute to him also having a global developmental delay.  How do you learn at 100% when you don’t feel 100%?  Short answer?  You can’t. 

Our goal is to make him healthy.  Happy.  Successful in whatever he chooses.  He can dig ditches or probe brains.  I don’t care.  Just as long as he’s healthy and happy.

After all, when I prayed for him, all I wanted was for him to be happy, healthy, compassionate, generous and kind.  Not a short order, but do you know the only part we’re struggling with is healthy.  We’ll get there, I have faith.

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