I thought it would be fun to talk about what was in the news this past week that relates to us SLP’s. Probably the most fascinating, disturbing, confusing news was the new autism statistics: the condition is thought to affect one in every 68 8 year-olds, up from just 88 two years earlier. What is driving that huge increase, up 30% between 2008 and 2010 and more than doubled since the turn of the century, according to a new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention?
Many experts believe the increase is largely due to better awareness and diagnosis. As a practicing clinician I would agree with that to some extent. It is in the back of many new parents’ minds when they are asking about their child’s development. When I spoke to the new mothers’ groups at Greenwich Hospital (babies were about 3-12 weeks old), I could always count on a mother raising the question of how to look for autism. Parents also often call me to request an evaluation, hesitant to tell me why they REALLY called, until it comes out that they have some fears that their child might be on the spectrum.
Experts agree that we just don’t know the answer–aging parents, environmental factors–as to why there is this rise in children with autism.
What can we do about it? Ramp up research and pour ourselves into early identification and remediation which we DO know works!