This Deirdre Imus' Letter To The Editor of Newsweek. It's a follow up to the article Newsweek ran two weeks ago about the freight train bearing down on many of us -- called "my children are getting older." On behalf of my three beautiful daughters with autism, all I can say is "thank you" to Deirdre Imus for keeping my story, my kids story and the story of 1 in 166 children born today, and diagnosed with autism by age 3.
Another Take on Autism
The glimpse into a world far too many people will be forced to acceptas they struggle with life as autistic adults. I commend NEWSWEEK for recognizing the human tidal wave of a maturing autistic population that will soon overwhelm not only emotional and financial resourcesof families, but Medicaid and state social-services budgets. While you illustrate some of the heartbreaking challenges parents facewhile caring for autistic children transitioning to adulthood, youoverlook what is at the heart of the autism debate. What has causedautism rates to grow so much in less than 20 years?
The idea that it's just better diagnosis is, to parents and supporters of theautistic community, like fingernails on the chalkboard. This epidemic is real and recent and cannot be explained by saying the diagnostic skills of doctors suddenly improved in the late 1990s or that amystery gene miraculously became active in hundreds of thousands ofchildren. A logical suggestion is that something changed in the1990s.
Perhaps the number of mercury-containing vaccines given tochildren tripled in the '90s and resulted in a toxic tipping point,causing these children to regress into a disorder we call autism.Your article was correct on one key observation, that it is families who are leading the way and becoming real experts on this disorder.They are still searching for answers that the medical community,government and media have failed to address with the urgency thisdisorder deserves.
The Combating Autism Act may provide some answers,but autistic children can't wait for the special-interest-laden windsof Congress to blow their way. Together, we can combat autism and perhaps save the next generation of our nation's most preciousresource: our children. Hard questions need to be asked about adisorder that is affecting so many and came on so suddenly.
The failure to honestly expose possible contributing causes warrantsserious examination and begs for further review by parents,professionals and journalists alike.
Deirdre ImusDeirdre Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology atHackensack University Medical CenterHackensack, N.J.