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16 July 2008

The CDC Vastly Underestimates the Autism Menace

The time has come for everyone to stop referencing the Center for Disease Control (CDC) statistic which states that 1 in every 150 children has an autism spectrum disorder. Did we really ever believe the numbers the CDC presented to the world? Do we rarely believe anything that comes out of the collective mouth of the CDC? If the CDC wanted to tell the truth, they wouldn’t have had to look far to get to that truth.

For far too long it has been we the parents and our national autism organizations who have uncovered and spoken the truth. We are speaking the truth again, and the CDC needs to be confronted.

In early October of 2007, Dr. Edward Yazbak and Ray Gallup of the Vaccine Autoimmune Project (VAP) released a report titled “When 1 in 150 is Really 1 in 67”. This report which puts the autism prevalence at 1 in every 67 children is based on Department of Education statistics. Keep in mind that Dr. Yazbak and Ray’s report only includes children who qualify for special education services through the autism eligibility category. This excludes potentially thousands of children, including my own. If your child has a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, but qualifies for special education through an Other Health Impaired or Developmental Delay category; your child is not accounted for in the 1 in every 67 children report. Our schools can not keep track of all of our children.
A few days ago a fellow military advocate mom sent me a document that was obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The information in the FOIA document confirms Dr. Yazbak and Ray’s report.

The statistics contained in this FOIA document cover a 24 month period of tracking. They only include those children or adults who were seen during this time period by medical personnel who used one of the many diagnosis codes pertaining to ASD. Plain English; if the child or adult was not seen for something relating to their ASD by a provider who accepted Tricare during that time period, they are not included in the stats. Again, this excludes potentially thousands of children due to the limited tracking time. And again, all of our children can not be kept track of; this time by the military and Tricare.

The document obtained explains that there are a total of 22,356 people with a diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder service wide (includes all branches of service); the vast majority are children of active duty or retired active duty dependents with ASD. The vast majority comprise a total of 22,027 military dependent children with autism. Of the 22,027 military dependent children with autism, 13,243 are children of active duty members.

According to a 2005 Department of Defense (DoD) publication (click on the download feature to view) there are 1,177,190 military dependent children service wide (page 49). This is what the numbers show:

1,177,190 (children service wide) /13243 (active duty (AD) dependent children with autism service wide) = 1 in 88

Due to the limitations of the tracking I think it’s safe to say that a heck of a lot of children were missed.

According to the FOIA document there are 8,784 dependent children with autism of retired military members. Information on the total number of dependent children of retired members has been hard to come by. Again, no one is keeping track, or so it seems.

So let’s play with some numbers, shall we?

According to the above mentioned 2005 DoD report (page 36), there were 52,270 members that retired between 2000 and 2005. According to the DoD report, the average number of children in an active duty family is two. Let’s cover the last 20 years of members retiring, and come up with a guesstimate of how many military dependent children of retired members there are. If there are roughly 52,270 members retiring in every five year period we have a total of 209,080 retired military members. If each of those retired members has on average, two children (refer to DoD report page 47), we would have roughly 418,160 military dependent children of retired military members.

418,160 (military dependent children of retired members) / 8,784 (military dependent children with autism of retired members) = 1 in 47

Now granted folks, we’re working with the second part of this equation which is a guesstimate number…

88 (active) + 47 (retired) = 135/2=67

WHAT! you say?

Yes, you are reading correctly. 1 in 67 military dependent children with autism.

“When 1 in 150 is Really 1 in 67”, in our schools.

“When 1 in 150 is Really 1 in 67”, in the United States Armed Forces.

It is time to start sounding the alarm bells, and every warning system we have. The autism tsunami has made landfall. It is time to confront the CDC. It is time to take this new information to our Congressional leaders. They need to be educated and be given a grave warning as to the financial ramifications in store for this country if our children don’t receive treatment, and agencies such as the CDC, NIH, IOM, FDA, and AAP continue to refuse to address the autism epidemic with complete transparency.

The time has come. Our children with autism need treatment, help and support. Our families need help and support.

The time has come for strong, swift, and deliberate action on the part of our government to provide every single child with autism the health insurance coverage necessary to recover our children with autism. Yes, they do recover.

The time has come for true leaders to step up to the plate. I challenge you to do just that right now. Step up to the plate.

The time has come. There is no more 1 in 150. There are 1 in 67 children with autism in this country, and the rate of children with autism increases every year.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Margaret Mead
The time has come.

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