The Rise of Autism
“In February 2007 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised the prevalence figures for ASD to one in every 150 individuals” (Richard, 2008, p. 26). There are many theories for this increased incidence. One factor discussed is the ability to finally fully diagnose the disorder. Since the increased awareness of autism, scientists have been busy researching and modifying the diagnostic criteria for autism. Correctly diagnosing is a very important step in helping children improve skills that are affected by autism. The other factors discussed are the general developmental disorders that take place during early childhood. There are many possible factors, such as vaccinations and genetics, that have led to the rise of autism and because of this rise funding for autism research has increased tremendously, as has the cost of treatments.
Autism used to be a low incidence disorder now it is one of the fastest growing developmental disabilities in the United States. There is still not one explanation for this sudden change in history, but scientists are getting closer and closer to the answer everyday. Since scientists have discovered a diagnosis for autism, they have been able to better understand autism and the possible causes for its existence. Proper diagnosis has been a huge factor in the rise of autism, but that still doesn’t mean the cause of autism is not important. There is a reason for this rise and finding the cause is the only way scientists are going to be able to prevent this increased incidence from growing in the future.
One possible factor that scientists are researching is environmental toxins. Evironmental toxins have been a long suspect for the cause of autism. There are many ways that children can be exposed to these toxins. Children could be exposed even before birth, during excessive ultrasounds and even electronic devices. One scientist conducted a study on the drug terbutaline, a drug used to stop pre-term labor in pregnant woman. He found a direct correlation in the continued use of terbutaline and the increased likelihood of autism among twins (Patel & Curtis, 2008, p. 83). This is just one study that has been proven to show a link between environmental toxins and autism. Mercury is another issue that has been researched. Mercury has been put in the air through coal-fired power plants, as well in vaccines. Mercury and other chemicals have been shown to alter the normal development of the brain during fetal development in the womb and during early childhood development (Kirby, 2005). Findings have indicated that many children have a metabolic impairment that reduces their ability to rid their bodies of heavy metals and other toxins (Wallis, 2008). This suggests that there is some link between the two, environmental toxins and autism, even if toxins are not the sole cause of the disorder.
Another possible factor is nutritional problems among autistic children. Autistic children have significantly low levels of nutrients in the hair, blood and other tissues. Along with the lack of nutrients, they usually have low levels of magnesium, zinc, selenium, vitamins A, B-complex, D and E, omega-3 fatty acids, and carnitine (Patel & Curtis, 2008, p. 82). Therefore, this proves that nutritional deficiencies is a common problem among autistic children and may link scientists to a possible cause. Another issue scientists have found in autistic children deals with the allergies towards gluten and casein. Gluten is a protein found in wheat and other grains and casein is a protein found in dairy products. Scientists have found that children who have allergies to gluten and casein experience odd behaviors. If an autistic child would eat either of these two substances it would send them into hours of disturbing behaviors (Simontacchi, 2008, p. 10). Scientists have found because of this study that children that are a gluten-free and casein-free diet, they do...