¬†I couldn’t possibly express this better than Steven Novella did over at Neurologica, so click the link and read about the new data. I do, however, think that it’s important to spread the word.
There is no data whatsoever to support a notion that autism is on the rise. New studies that are the topic of the above blog post in fact support the notion that it is not autism that is on the rise, but the diagnosis of autism. However, there is a huge movement that is trying to blame the so-called rise in autism on things like vaccinations.
The facts just do not support this argument. However, this movement is mostly championed by the parents of autistic children who wish very desperately to have a reason why their child has this disease. And of course there is a reason, we just don’t know it yet.
When you’re a parent, you don’t always react logically to the health and welfare of your children. I remember scaring the bejezus out of a kid who was being mean to my daughter. It was childish of me and totally a bad idea, but I have to say, it felt pretty good at the time. And these days, the source of truth in many people’s eyes is the internet. So your child has autism and you want to know more about it. So you hit the ‘net. Pretty soon you’re hearing about scary chemicals and Big Pharmaceutical and conspiracies in the medical community, and you’re knee deep in the Age Of Autism website (who lovingly provided me the picture of the whispering child to the left).
I get why this is such a compelling argument to believe. But it being compelling does not make it true. Truth is testable, predictable, and verifiable. There are lots of facts surrounding autism, but they do not in any way point us to the answer. Simply put, we do not know what causes autism. We shall figure it out one day, of that I am certain. But we won’t figure it out by chasing at windmills and drawing illogical conclusions. We’ll find it through further testing and further interpretation of the facts.