Back when I penned “Asperger’s in Pink”, the rate of autism was thought to be 1:166. Before it went to the printer, it changed to 1:115. Beginning 2013, it was 1:88, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevent (CDC) now suggests it may be 1:50.
Yes, you read that right! The CDC now supposes that one out of every fifty Americans may be on the autism spectrum. So, what’s the truth? What’s behind the numbers? Is it that more and more children have autism? Is it because those with Asperger-type autism are now being counted where they weren’t before? Why the continued rise?
Honestly, we really don’t know, and those numbers are bound to change again. One of the contributing factors may be that some children (and adults) are just now being diagnosed due to increasing awareness of autism. Many people now being diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome sat in mainstream classrooms as children, went to college, married and now hold down careers as adults. Ten years ago, these individuals were not likely counted in the statistics.
But another reason for this number change is the increasing attention being given to females on the Autism spectrum. Autism tends to present itself differently in girls than boys, with many girls working to “mask” their quirks, leaving them undetected for years.
Regardless the statistics, one thing remains unchanged. Those who happen to be on the autism spectrum are people, just like you and me. They may communicate differently, but they love, they explore, they synthesize the world around them. They add depth of meaning where others may lack it. They challenge us to view the world on another level.
No, not all are verbal, but that hardly means they are not capable of depth of thought. Others are incredibly intelligent and they will go on to make an incredible mark on the world, as my daughter is in the process of doing. And some will simply make us smile, such as Dan Aykroyd has done for years. (Yes, he has Asperger’s!)
During Autism Awareness Month, let’s choose to take time to understand these amazing individuals, celebrate their differences and encourage understanding about what Autism is – and what it isn’t. Having an Autism Spectrum Disorder isn’t always easy – for the family or the person effected by it, but our lives would lack so much depth without its presence.
Daniele and Denine have an amazing heart for children and healthy living, and I’m happy to “meet” you here at We Know Stuff, and hope you will continue to stop by as we discuss Autism and Asperger’s throughout the year.
~ Julie Clark ~