The recent announcement regarding the new CDC study does not tell those of us in the autism community anything we do not already know. As of today, we can now affirmatively say autism affects 1 in 88 children born 12 years ago, a 23 percent increase since the CDC last released numbers in 2009.
We have been sounding the alarm bells for years to this glaring epidemic.
All that these new numbers indicate is the fact that we are continuing to lose children at an alarmingly rapid pace. The current emphasis on awareness and genetic research has not brought us any closer to a cause. We need to focus our efforts as a global community on prevention and providing treatment and life care services for those currently affected.
The dialogue today, in the aftermath of the CDC's release with regard to what these new numbers indicate, completely misses the point. The new numbers have been equally attributed to better diagnosis, higher incidence and unknown factors. What is missing from today's dialogue is the effect autism is having on families, our society and what the unknown factors are.
The 300lb. gorilla in the room is that our children with autism today will soon become adults with autism.
We can either continue to collectively stand on the sidelines and debate what is causing autism and if it is an epidemic or we can get on the field and start addressing the real problem -- a generation of children with autism. We are not focusing enough on prevention, treatments and support services.
As long as the powers that be continue to keep their head in the sand with regard to treatment and services, there is little in the way of progress that can be made. Families need resources for early intervention, treatment opportunities, support, safety measures, educational tools and housing and employment opportunities. Only through direct support and intervention will we be able to ease the burden.
If we fail to take action, in four more years we can look forward to the CDC revising the numbers down again and we will witness a further increase in the need for prevention, treatment and support.
As we continue to lose yet another generation of our children, families will continue to struggle and power on. Thankfully there are organizations helping autism families.
Those outside of autism need to understand this is an epidemic and we need more government funding, insurance coverage and education reform. Without intervention today, the cost of care for adults with autism will be significantly greater and the burden will no longer lie with the parents, but on our entire society.
In the words of Margaret Meade "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. "
Please take action today by supporting a family in your community and urge others to learn more about autism at www.generationrescue.org.
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