Child Autism Increased 850% in Missouri

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Puritan Board Freshman
Cases of Child Autism Have Increased 850 Percent in Missouri

[Last Friday we posted some numbers on the increase of autism in
Missouri. Here is an article that expands on the implications. By Callie
Clark for the Southeast Missourian.]$rec=136164

The smell of burning flesh made Tammila Miller turn around. The Grassy,
Mo., mom was on the phone in the kitchen waiting for her oven to preheat.
She whirled around to find her autistic son, Michael, gripping the hot
baking rack in the oven.
Michael, now 7 years old, suffered third-degree burns on his palms but
never cried or showed any sign of pain during the ordeal.
There are more than 2,800 children in Missouri diagnosed by schools as
autistic, an 850 percent increase since 1991. That's 2,800 children who may,
for no apparent reason, bolt toward a busy highway. That's 2,800 children
who may get so frustrated at their inability to communicate that they punch
themselves in the face or bang their heads against a wall.
The skyrocketing numbers of autistic children across the United States
are starting to test society's ability to treat them. The demand for
services has outpaced the supply of therapists as parents waste critical
months on a waiting list just to get diagnosed.
Autistic children wait a year to have their first music therapy lesson
because there is only one part-time music therapist in a 100-mile region.
Schools are having to pay more to educate autistic children. Parents are
going broke because insurance companies refuse to pay for services.
The United States spends $90 billion per year to provide care for the
country's 1.5 million autistic children and adults. The Autism Society of
America estimates that cost could balloon to $200 billion to $400 billion by
To make matters worse, scientific research offers conflicting and
inconclusive explanations as to why autism is growing more like an
infectious disease than a genetic neurological disorder.
The rate of children being diagnosed with autism is now as high as one
in 166. Ten years ago it was one in 2,500, according to the American Academy
of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The actual number of autistic Missourians -- children and adults -- is
unknown because some children diagnosed by medical authorities as autistic
aren't recognized as such by the Missouri Department of Elementary and
Secondary Education -- the only government-sanctioned census of autistic
children in the state.
DESE currently identifies 2,801 children between the ages of 3 and 21
as autistic, up from 294 children in 1991. Some parents believe there are
actually many more.
Whatever the numbers are, the medical establishment hasn't been able
to agree on the cause of the huge increase over the past decade.
"Before too long it's going to become a public health issue," said Dr.
David Crowe, a Cape Girardeau orthodontist whose son was diagnosed with
autism in 1985. "It's like a ticking time bomb, because the cost of
providing the needed care and therapy is astronomical."
National explosion Other states are seeing similar explosions in the
number of children diagnosed as autistic. The Autism Society of America, an
advocacy organization in Bethesda, Md., estimates that every day 50 children
in the United States are diagnosed with a form of autism.
"We are seeing more diagnoses, and there doesn't seem to be one good
reason why," said Julia Kaufmann, director of children's services with the
Missouri Department of Mental Health. "It could be a number of things. We're
open to looking at all causes."
The Department of Mental Health, in conjunction with lawmakers, state
agencies and universities, has formed the Missouri Autism Research and
Response Agenda to look at the possible causes of autism and improve support
services for individuals with the disorder. The agenda group is putting
together a statewide database with information on autism to aid research in
the growing field.
The words "epidemic" and "autism" are being paired in hushed tones in
the country's medical community.
Dr. Mark Geier, a Maryland geneticist and vaccinologist, and his
research partner and son, David Geier, estimate the lifetime cost of caring
for an autistic person at between $5 million and $10 million.
"It's the greatest catastrophe to fall on this country," said David
Geier. "We've looked at it backwards, forwards, upside down. It won't go
away. This thing is absolutely going to damage the country."
The father-son team are part of a growing number of scientists,
physicians and parents who believe the increase in autism during the 1990s
was caused by the mercury-containing preservative thimerosal, which was
added to vaccines 70 years ago.
During the past decade, the amount of thimerosal children received
increased as the United States expanded its immunization program. At the
same time, the country's autism population began to grow significantly.
Autism origins The word autism is derived from the Greek word "autos,"
which means self. It was first defined as a specific condition in 1943.
Originally, the medical community believed autism to be a
psychological disturbance caused by uncaring, detached mothers. Those
suffering from it often were institutionalized. In the 1960s, a new theory
developed that labeled autism as a biological problem. Recent research
classifies it as a genetic disorder.
Autism is referred to as a spectrum disorder because of the wide range
of characteristics and effects it can have on people. Signs usually appear
by age 3. It's more prevalent in boys than girls.
Although diagnoses and definitions may vary from one physician to
another, the autism spectrum is generally broken down into five different
categories, which all fall under the general term pervasive developmental
disorder: · autism · Asperger's syndrome · childhood disintegrative
disorder · Rett's disorder · pervasive developmental disorder -- not
otherwise specified The "not otherwise specified" category includes those
with autism symptoms that do not fall clearly into the other four
Autism's only predictable symptom is unpredictability. Symptoms are
different with every child.
Autistic children often have a high tolerance for pain but can be
overly sensitive to certain lights, odors, sounds and textures. These
sensitivities have been a big adjustment for Karen Manning of Perryville,
Mo., whose son, Darin, was diagnosed as autistic at age 4.
The Mannings no longer take family photos. To Darin, the camera's
flash looks more like the first daylight after a long stay in a black room.
Karen Manning no longer dresses her son in blue jeans. To Darin, the
denim feels like coarse sandpaper, causing him to curl up and cry.
"It's a feeling like you've been burglarized, like somebody came in
and stole my son's mind," Manning said.
In addition to sensory sensitivity, autistic children may not have a
sense of danger or feel pain. They may have a hard time staying focused and
may flap their hands or engage in other repetitive movements.
Communication block But the lack of communication and social skills
are perhaps the most telltale characteristics of autism.
Some autistic children, like Nicholas Clark of Parma, Mo., stop
speaking entirely.
Nicholas, now 7 years old, developed normally until age 2, when he
began losing his vocabulary and exhibiting other signs of autism.
Eventually, he regressed into complete silence.
"We didn't know if he would ever talk," said Melinda Clark, Nicholas'
mother. "He's in his own world, and we have to give him as much incentive as
possible to come into our world."
Poor voluntary control of speech muscles, a condition called verbal
apraxia, is common among autistic children, says Dr. Carol Ludwig, a Jackson
speech pathologist.
"Being autistic is like hearing a foreign language," Ludwig said. "The
words don't make any sense."
Within each of the autism disorders, symptoms and degree can range
from mild to severe. Doctors look for specific symptoms in communication and
social impairments to diagnose autism. Doctors look for an inability to make
friends, a lack of eye contact, an inability to express spontaneous joy and
a failure to connect emotionally with others.
Autism is widely regarded as a genetic disorder because of its
heritability; however, most researchers agree that there is no single cause.
Many autistic people also have genetic syndromes or chromosome disorders,
but there's little scientific explanation for how or why autism occurs.
The April issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry includes a new
study identifying two variants of a single gene that may raise a child's
risk of autism by twofold or more, the Associated Press reported.
Those variants, however, aren't enough to cause autism by themselves.
Researchers involved in the new study believe it takes between five and 10
genes working together to produce autism.
Similar genetic research is taking place at the Autism Center and
Clinic at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Dr. Judith Miles, a
geneticist and director of the autism center, has been bombarded by an
increase in patients.
"Certainly we're seeing an explosion in the number of cases," Miles
said. "We know that autism is highly genetic, but genes don't have
epidemics, so that's why people are looking at environmental factors, such
as vaccines."


Puritan Board Freshman
Not to display my ignorance here, but do they even know what causes autism yet?



Puritan Board Doctor
My 6 year old son is autistic. There seems to be two main theories running. The first was mentioned in the article about the vaccinations. It could either be the mercury in the vaccines or just the fact that they give tiny children with newly maturing immune systems 4 different disease vaccines at one time. Another theory is that like people with Celiac disease some kids gastrointenstinal systems cannot properly digest the gluten in various grains nor the casein in dairy products. The result is that they are left with a byproduct in their systems called opoids that are like the drug opium that leaves them in a drugged state almost constantly thus they get lost within themselves and suffer more and more brain damage until they severely retarded. My son has not had those foods for 2 years except accidentally on occasion. We did notice some immediate changes. He slept through the night right away without waking up screaming and he quit doing this weird giggle at everything thing he used to do. In addition to this most autistic kids suffer a neurological issue called sensory disintegration where they are either hyper sensitive to sight, taste, touch, and sounds or they don't have hardly any sensitivity like the boy who touched the hot pan. So that they seem totally immune to all sensory input. So you have a child who either runs from all sensory input and closes in on himself or a child who longs for some kind of sensory input who hits thems or runs into things or screams to hear himself make a noise.

The lack of professionals in the area of helping these children is very true. Especially in the rural states. By the grace of God we live in an area with several but even then we were on waiting lists. Also by the grace of God our insurance covers the $1200 a week, yes a week, that it costs for his 12 hrs a week of therapy. The therapy if started young really saves these children. My son talks really well now and he communicates his thoughts and feeling really well now. He has to be taught everything in a special way to cut through the barriers in his mind. He will probably get to an almost normal level by the time he is in his teens and be seen as just very shy and a little strange. He still to this day doesn't like crowds and loud noises. He still won't socialize like most kids. Small talk is just not something that he is capable of and may never be. This is very long, sorry, its just a really in-depth type of subject. :)


Puritan Board Junior
My oldest son Soren has Sensory Integration Dysfunction which looked similar to Autism at first, but has been helped by much therapy. (Musical, Occupational, Physical)

We did not vaccinate any of our children.
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