Autism demands answers ... and fast

I believe that most of us either know of a child with autism, or may have a child or grandchild who is affected. The “Autism Spectrum” shows there could have a minimal deficit, what we used to refer to as “slow,” and at the opposite end, the child may be nonverbal and require constant care.

It is difficult to believe these numbers, but approximately 100 children per day are now diagnosed with autism. It effects boys more than girls and is likely to occur more than once in a family. It is considered the “fastest growing disorder in the United States.” That being said, I have many unanswered question about this disorder, as I am sure many other people do as well.

How did this happen? How can we fix it? Every day I see outraged parents who feel that their child needs only to be accepted with this illness and accommodations need to be made.

Special education teachers are expected to “care” for these children once they become school age. Parents often insist that their child be in a “regular” classroom in order not to feel different. Some will choose to home school, but most need the break that regular school offers. Every day we are learning more about how we are expected to react to kids with disabilities. I like to believe that most adults feel empathy for children with disabilities.

My biggest concern is what will happen when the 3 million children with autism are no longer children? If they remain in the care of their parents through adulthood, what happens when the parents can no longer care for them? They will grow old, get sick and eventually pass away. I think we can all agree on that one. This, of course, will leave the effected child, now adult, with no means to care for themselves. I already see that special education teachers are much more in demand. As the years pass, we may have as many children requiring special needs teachers as we do classroom teachers.

We are talking about a whole generation of special needs children here. I believe that acceptance is primary, but I feel strongly that figuring out what has happened is equally as important. Why does it affect boys more than girls? What are we doing different than we were doing 20 years ago? I do not want to get into the issue of immunization, even though I personally believe that to be a contributing factor at the very least. I get concerned when pregnant women are getting ultrasound X-rays month after month while they are pregnant. I am old enough to remember the babies born with the effects of thalidomide many years ago, while the doctors and drug companies assured everyone that the drug was safe.

Whatever amount of money is being spent to discover the cause of Autism Spectrum (or Asperger syndrome), it is not enough! If this defect continues at the current pace, we will soon have a whole generation of young adults who may not be able to have a “normal” life. We owe it to these children, and those to come, to end this now. Do not accept that your child just “has it.” Demand answers. More is needed than being an advocate for your child. Please do not sit still while these numbers continue to grow.

If you do not have a connection to autism yet, I can almost guarantee that you will.