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    Talk About Autism Now

    April 2, 2013 •  7 comments.

     •  Blog, News

    Written by Dr. Bob Sears  of www.askdrsears.com, Pediatrician and TACA Physician Advisory Member, as originally seen on Talk About Curing Autism Now (TACANow)

    Dr Bob: Welcome to my series of blogs that will continue to be written until someone at the Centers for Disease Control and PREVENTION gets on the ball and says “Yes, we have an autism epidemic! We are now very concerned and will do something about it.”

    The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics just released a study entitled “Changes in Prevalence of Parent-Reported Autism Spectrum Disorder in School-aged U.S. Children: 2007 to 2011-2012.” (1) Their findings:  1 in 50 children ages 6-17 have autism.

    I will ask again: Why is nobody alarmed? Why is nobody at the CDC issuing a press release saying, “Parents, we hear you, we are just as concerned as you are. We now realize there is an epidemic that continues to worsen year after year and we are dedicated to determining the cause.”

    Here is why – you can read it in the conclusion of the study: “much of the prevalence increase from 2007 [which was 1 in 86 school-age children] to 2011-2012 [1 in 50 children] was the result of diagnoses of children with previously unrecognized ASD.”

    Translation: “Don’t worry. Sure, autism is common, but it’s no more common now than it used to be, so there’s no need to panic.”

    Well, I’ll tell you that as a pediatrician and a parent, I am in a panic. Partly because I continue to see patients in my own office develop autism at an alarming rate. Partly because I continue to see the children of friends and relatives develop autism spectrum disorders. On a very personal level, my own older children who are now 17 and 20, will probably start having kids of their own soon,  and I can’t yet tell them what causes autism and how to completely prevent it. Back when my kids were young, I thought we would surely get to the bottom of this before they would be grown up and start having kids of their own. Well, now we are here, and we still aren’t getting any closer to an answer. Why? “Because there isn’t an epidemic.”

    If I told you, “Hey – there’s a new infectious disease that will strike 2% of all children that will significantly impair them for their entire life,” wouldn’t you expect the CDC to jump all over this and get to the bottom of it quickly? If we have a sudden epidemic, the CDC jumps all over it to avoid a panic. The swine flu comes to mind. But if there’s a disease that is very slowly making its way through our population with only a very gradual, but questionable increase, then there’s no reason to panic. We’ll get to the bottom of it someday. That’s how I think the CDC is looking at this. They certainly want to help. They are good people who do good work. I know they’ll find the answer some day. But they are trying to portray autism as something that has always been around and is barely increasing. They don’t want parents to panic. They don’t want people to stop having children. They don’t want people to start making up reasons why autism is increasing. They don’t want parents to look for answers on their own.

    The problem with this approach is that it leaves the million or more children with autism and their families out in the cold, feeling alone,like victims of an epidemic that no one will admit is happening. And it means that another million children will develop autism over the next ten years.

    Back in medical school, I rarely heard the word autism.  Now, not a day goes by without autism being discussed in my practice.  We must have answers now. We need to have this epidemic acknowledged by the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics. We need to know why autism is happening, and how to more effectively treat it and help children recover. We are doing fairly well at this for some kids. We do bring some children to recovery, but not enough. For every child that does recover, several more are being diagnosed to take his or her place.

    We need to be concerned. We need to act with a sense of urgency. We have to care more about autism and do something about it. Parents and the future generation of children are counting on us. And I will keep raising concern in hopes that someday this message will be heard and action will be taken.

    Dr. Bob Sears

    TACA Physician Advisory Member

    1) http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr065.pdf


    Pediatrician and author of The Autism Book: What Every Parent Needs to Know about Early Detection, Treatment, Recovery and Prevention


    For more information about Dr. Bob, please see www.askdrsears.com

      7 Responses to “Talk About Autism Now”

      1. Many doctors have cited the use of GMO foods and harmful chemical food additives such as preservatives (sodium nitrates etc.) and harmful coloring agents and mercury and heavy metals and harmful chemical sprays (pesticides) and defolients; acid rain etc. Another probelm is pharmaceducals; Both prescription and non prescription that the Mother’s take and that are even in the drinking water. There is a battle on for the life of the planet. Our precious children are our unchosen guinea pigs. Who will listen? The government just signed the bill to allow all GMO seeds to be planted. I am giving up hope!

        • atlatty

          Really, Edith? A) Proofread. B) “prescription and non prescription that the Mother’s take”? The battle of life on the planet is Darwinian. The strong survive. Medicine has kept the weak–the allergy-ridden, the sickly, the elderly, the ailing–alive. There’s a reason the word “autism” wasn’t heard when the author was in med school; it’s because every parent wasn’t looking for an excuse for a poorly behaved kid. If people didn’t spend all their time looking for grand conspiracy theories or other excuses, our culture would be a lot better off. It seems off to me that the poorer social classes aren’t riddled with autism; it’s the middle class and up…supposedly the ones who “know better”, according to all the anti-food-dye/anti-GMO/wholly organic folk out there. The middle class and up aren’t feeding their kids GMO’s or food dyes or McDonald’s or Hawaiian Punch or whatever the latest evil is, yet their kids are the ones on “the spectrum”. Enough. Enough, I say.

        • MsV

          Atlatty…a) The rich and upper middle classes so ‘riddled’ with autism diagnosis have the economic means to get a swift and hopefully accurate diagnosis. I’m not rich. Something is different, my child needs help and I’m still working on that diagnosis (ASD is frequently discussed but not yet dx–after years of frustrating back and forth.)
          b) It’s only recently that kids with unique needs needed a diagnosis to get what they need to succeed. Like, space to cool down. Permission to leave an overly stimulating environment. A small fidget to help them focus. Little things that adults use daily to compensate for whatever their personal needs are, kids need in writing accompanied by a dr’s note. Or they are considered ‘behavior problems’ rather than someone ‘needing space’ or ‘quiet kids who sit in the back’. A lot of high functioning individuals only need a dx for those times that society can’t accept their necessary adaptations. Just 30 years ago, I was allowed to sit out of an assembly if it gave me a headache. My sensory kid needs a dr note and an IEP for the same ‘accommodation’. (Or a really understanding teacher and principal.)
          While we seek a ‘cure’ I think we also need to address the problems we have accepting people who need accommodations.

      2. shannonfabulous

        I believe that Edith is right as well as the fact that we have an alarming rate of vaccines that we inject into our children yearly! And many at one time! Their poor little bodies can’t handle the amount of mercury and such in all those vaccines. We can’t eat too much fish because we may get mercury poisoning, but 4 vaccines at one time in a 6 month old? NO PROBLEM…. I tell ya, our CDC doesn’t care about us and neither does the government. Big pharma cares about their bottom line and nothing else. Our kids are paying the price… slowly but surely and it’s maddening!!!!!!!

      3. a

        ” There’s a reason the word “autism” wasn’t heard when the author was in med school; it’s because every parent wasn’t looking for an excuse for a poorly behaved kid”

        Dear ‘ATLATTY’, your ignorance is so offensive. When you don’t have an informed opinion you REALLY should just keep it to yourself. With 3 children, one on the spectrum, I can tell you we are fighting for our lives here to help our child. I feel sorry for your judgmental approach…it will be a person like you that will one day be effected by something as horrible as Autism and my dear you will be eating your words.

      4. Thank you Dr. Bob for highlighting the Epidemic our county is facing and the fearless conviction you have in asking for the answers now because tomorrow is too late.

      5. As I dietitian and mother of a 17 year old diagnosed with autism at 4 years of age, I have a few thoughts.

        The elephant in the room: 10,000+ chemicals spewed into our environment with little research to assess risk and less tracking. 95% of persistent organic pollutants enter our body via the food supply. Couple this toxic stew with ever increasing expectations and stress on both parents and children and you have a perfect storm of elements that drive more “autistic” behaviors. Fear and stress exacerbates problematic behavior. Maybe we should stop and consider the impact of overwhelming stress throughout the life cycle, especially during pregnancy. Poor diet and excessive refined and processed foods only make everything worse.

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