Is there an autism epidemic?
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says 1 in 88 children is now diagnosed with autism. We asked autism experts the question: Is there an autism epidemic? Here's another response from a Canadian researcher. We'll be posting more responses in the coming days.
Jonathan Weiss, Canadian chair in autism research, York University professor:
What a lot of people are saying is there are many reasons why those rates are higher than they were before. One of the major things we are realizing . . . is the complexity around this and that it really is a spectrum of difficulties. Before, we were looking for one specific type of person or look. Now we are seeing things much more broadly. So I think that awareness, better ability to diagnose, better measurement and better ability to track exactly what’s happening might be a lot of the things that are related to the newer numbers relative to older numbers.
When it comes to the cause of this, I’m not the best person to answer that because I’m not looking at the genetics or the environmental influences on the genetics of a very complex disorder.
Awareness, more ability to diagnose and better-trained professionals across Canada and in the U.S. are recognizing many of the people who before weren’t being recognized.