Tag Archives | number of cases

How Old is Autism? Is It a New Thing or Has it Been Around a Long Time?

I’ve seen this question asked a lot around the internet, and have been asked by a lot of people “Why is there so many people getting Autism these days?”

Keep in mind, I’m in no way telling you that this is how it is, it’s just my take on what I know based on what I’ve read and come to my own conclusions…

A lot of people blame vaccines, if not for actually causing Autism in their child, then for at least triggering it or being the final straw that allows it to manifest and steal their child away from them. The reason I bring this up is that it, in my mind, distorts their perception of the origins of Autism. Naturally, no one knows what causes it exactly or how long it’s been around, but I’d venture a guess to say that it’s been around a lot longer than our vaccinations.

For example, just yesterday I was discussing with someone how, when we were children, we had a lot less vaccinations than kids do today. Which is true, but then I think to people like Temple Grandin who is now 60, which is near twice as old as I am and how little she must have had to endure in the way of vaccinations. Also, I know some people that are Autistic and never once been vaccinated. And Autism happens in countries where vaccination isn’t even available! So, perhaps it’s a reason for the spike in occurrences but certainly not the cause. So it’s safe to assume that Autism was around before vaccines became a big money grab for pharmaceutical companies.

My grandmother, who is 75, asked me why there seems to be so much Autism these days, to which my reply was… are you sure there’s more now? It was in that instant, as she asked me, that I started to really contemplate it. My first question back to her was “when you were in school, was there a ‘special education’ class where the ‘slower’ kids were put?” and she said yes, there in fact was. I think most of us can remember such a class or classes in our school.. some had a trailer which separated them from the building. She said that those children didn’t talk, or would scream a lot, or needed a lot of extra help in learning things. Hmm… that sounds familiar.

The whole notion of Autism wasn’t even around until 1910, and even then it was used to describe schizophrenia, until 1938 when Dr Asperger used it to describe a much more specific disorder, the one we know today. That seems far enough back but in fact, even then it was still considered just to be an anti-social thing that children had due to “refrigerator moms” not loving them enough.

In the meantime, people have said that Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Mozart, Van Gogh and more quite likely had some form of Autism… it’s impossible to be certain obviously, but if true, then Autism could date back hundreds of years.

Now, we come back to present day and ask, why is there more now? Well, I’m no scientist so I can’t tell you for sure that there is or isn’t more cases today just that, in my opinion, I think it’s mostly a matter of people becoming more aware. I know people right now who’s children are obviously Autistic, but they’ve never been diagnosed. The parents either are clueless, simply not aware of Autism at all or are in denial. I read all the time of children being diagnosed at 2, 5, 9… even 15 years of age.

Remember, the doctors give the official diagnosis that gets counted but it’s the parents that have to make the initial diagnosis. They’re the ones that have to recognize, accept and seek out the diagnosis from a specialist before their child is counted.

Going back 5, 10, 20 years ago, there were very very few doctors that could make that diagnosis, much less parents that could recognize it. I mean, it wasn’t that long ago that moms were told they were crappy parents and therefore the cause of it. Why would they go to a doctor to hear that?

Do I think that there are more cases now than 100 years ago? Sure, it sure seems like it. Do I think that there’s some force causing a huge fluctuation in the numbers? Not so much, and I’m probably mostly alone in this thinking but I think given it’s long history, given how parents are becoming more aware and seeking diagnosis more now than ever before, given that there are more doctors and facilities to make a diagnosis… the numbers will just naturally go up all on their own even if the actual number of Autistic children don’t.

The question is, if we could have every single Autistic person counted now, and count every single one 5 years from now, taking out all the variables such as parents who don’t know, the ones that have no way to get a diagnosis, the ones that are simply getting a diagnosis later in life…  would the numbers be that much different? And if so, how different?

I would love to hear what you think… did you have a special ed class where “slow” children were placed even though they were never “diagnosed” with anything? Do you believe that Autism is a new thing that’s just coming on due to vaccines or pollution in the air?

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