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Autism Incidence Has More Than Doubled Since 2002

by Maryanne Nugent, Family Support Manager, Autism Home Support Services

drewmomThumbnail-248x220Did you know that in 2002, shortly after my son Drew was diagnosed with autism, the incidence rate was 1 in 150? Did you know that it has more than doubled since then to 1 in 68?  I remember “way back” in 2002 many people disputed the 1 in 150 statistic. I often heard:  “Impossible, I don’t know anyone with an autistic child!”;  “They’re just diagnosing a broader range of kids?”; and my favorite, “It must be the vaccines!” (More on that another time.)

I recently visited with a pediatrician who questioned the statistics and told me that if his practice is representative, the number is closer to 1 in 250. I was incensed, crazed, enraged even. How could this DOCTOR not see how many families were affected by this disorder? What was wrong with him? What world was he living in?

After I ranted and raved to my co-workers for a bit I finally decided, I don’t care! I don’t care what the incident rate is today and I don’t care if that pediatrician doesn’t believe the CDC’s numbers. What I do care about is that the world is a better place than it was in 2002 when Drew and I started our journey. What? Better? What about global warming, terrorism, and Ebola? Ahhh, but as the mother of a child on the spectrum, I know it is better; and not because more children have been diagnosed with autism. It’s better because of the increased awareness that these statistics have helped create – which in turn has led to additional services for autism, better insurance coverage for autism, a more accepting general public of autism, and a more welcoming and understanding community for my child. It’s just better, and if I have a “questionable” statistic to thank for that then so be it!

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