The “Autism Epidemic” doesn’t exist

I’m a member of the Ster-Kinekor Film Club. Members can watch films for half-price on Tuesdays, so on the 4th September I was up at Rosebank Mall to watch the documentary “Fuel” made by Josh Tickell.
Tickell is a green advocate and the film is very interesting. “Fuel” was fascinating and thought-provoking and I would urge everyone to watch it and incorporate some of the suggestions it makes with regards to saving energy.
Now on to the real subject of this post. On the way out to my car, I passed a smart screen. On the screen was an advert for the Ernie Els Autism Foundation (Side Note: Ernie Els is a South African golfer with an autistic son). The advert made reference to an “Autism Epidemic”. And that is where I got annoyed.
I have a problem with the very idea that there is an Epidemic of Autism. As I mentioned in my letter to The Star, which they very kindly published, the idea that the proportion of Autistics in the general population has skyrocketed since 1944 (when Autism was first described) is dubious in the extreme. I argued that broadened diagnostic criteria, diagnostic substitution, increased awareness of Autism and past under-diagnosis were what happened. In other words, the number of diagnoses of Autism is increasing, not the number of Autistics.
There is another issue about the phrase “Autism Epidemic”. Anti-vaccinationists latched on to the claim that the MMR Triple jab causes Autism and refuse to let it go despite Andrew Wakefield being exposed as faking his data and multiple other studies showing no difference in the Autism rates of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated children. Saying that there is an epidemic of Autism gives ammunition to their claims, discredited though they are.
I have sent an email raising my concerns to the Foundation. I’ll see if the response is anything other than a canned one.

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About autismjungle

I am a Software Test Analyst. Shortly before I turned 21 I was officially diagnosed, although I had long suspected I was autistic. Welcome to my blog
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