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Is Autism On The Rise

Is Autism On The Rise?

The CDC released a report last month that suggests that 1 in 88 children suffered from Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) in 2008. The new number represents an increase prevalence from 1 in 110 ASD sufferers in 2006. This report May alarm new parents health care providers and those in government however the news deserves some discussion. The report itself recognizes that there is an opportunity for clarity in the reasons why the numbers are going up. The government website for National Institute of Health (NIH) states that It is unclear whether this is due to an increasing rate of the illness or an increased ability to diagnose the illness. referring to ASDs.

What parents should know is that:

  1. The prevalence range doubled. This indicates a problem in standardization of the either the collection or interpretation of the criteria needed to be considered ASD.
  2. That when educational information is available it correlated to higher rates. This is information from guidance councilors teachers special education instructors and is not necessarily from a doctor or health care provider.

The study maintains that Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a group of developmental disabilities characterized by impairments in social interaction and communication and by restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior. This report relied on The American Psychiatric Association-->serif;">’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-IV Text Revision “Disorders Usually First Diagnosed In Infancy Childhood or Adolescence” n.d(DSM-IV-TR) diagnostic criteria for any of the following conditions: Autistic Disorder; Pervasive Developmental Disorder–Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS including Atypical Autism); or Asperger Disorder to define the disability. So when a child is placed in this group they could be between a new born and eight years old and they could be severely disabled or a child who gestures instead of uses words or one who has a short attention span.

The degrees to which ASD has become an acceptable diagnosis is very wide and it might be getting wider since the descriptors are used by non-health professionals in non-malicious ways to document a childs behavior. The other consideration in this regard is that the ages of diagnosis range from days to years old. Having eight years to develop a history where the case could be made for an ASD diagnosis increases the likelihood that one will be diagnosed.

How the study was done

The information used in the report was gathered by data sources that are categorized as either

  1. Education including evaluations to determine eligibility for special education services or
  2. Health including diagnostic and developmental assessments from psychologists neurologists developmental pediatricians physical therapists occupational therapists speech/language pathologists and other providers.

The study is a surveillance report conducted by the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network (ADDM) and does not rely on professional or family reporting of an existing ASD diagnosis or classification to ascertain case status. Instead information is obtained from childrens evaluation records to determine the presence of ASD symptoms at any time from birth through the end of the year when the child reaches age 8 years. ADDM focuses on children aged 8 years because a baseline study conducted by CDC demonstrated that this is the age of identified peak prevalence.

The data is the then reviewed in two phases.

The first phase requires a trained clinician to comb through the data provided by the data sources looking for triggers (e.g. child does not initiate interactions with others prefers to play alone or engage in solitary activities or has received a documented ASD diagnosis).

In the second phase -->serif;">’-->serif;">”a child is included as meeting the surveillance case definition for ASD if he or she displays behaviors at any time from birth through the end of the year when the child reaches age 8 years as described on a comprehensive evaluation by a qualified professional that are consistent with the DSM-IV-TR diagnostic criteria-->serif;">’-->serif;">” for any of the conditions listed above.

Prevalence of Autism

The data collected in this 2008 report compared to the 2006 report has an increase in the range of prevalence per 1000 children (from 4.2-1.1 to 4.8-21.2) which indicates that some change or variation exists in 2008 compared to 2006 either in the data collected or in the interpretation. The major factor in variation in estimated ASD prevalence was associated primarily with sites having access to education records and also appeared to be associated with improved identification among children without intellectual disability according the the study.

My Opinion

Dont be alarmed by this study.

What I think is happening is that our school systems are documenting more kids with short attention spans and that this is acting as a trigger for labeling. Parents have been threatened with having their children removed from school unless they agree to place the child on some prescription medication.

A side-effect of all this is that harmful drugs will be prescribed and more children will be numbed by them during this time of explosive cognitive and creative development.


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Chiropractic for Kids

Do you think that chiropractic spinal adjustments are just for grown-ups? Think again! Children of all ages also benefit from a fine tuned nervous system.

More parents are choosing chiropractic for their kids!

All over the world parents are understanding that conservative care early in life reaps huge benefits later and that the overuse of drugs to treat minor illnesses and developmental conditions are causing unintended consequences for our children as they grow older. Some of the drugs that parents are taking and in some cases have taken before conceiving their children have had physical effects on the developing fetus. So it is no surprise that informed parents are seeking alternatives to the current healthcare model which is really sick care because the doctors have little interest in caring for someone who is not complaining of anything.

The current numbers show that in Canada half of the children in one study (Can J Nerurol Sci 2005;3:524) used alternative health care and the one they chose the  most was chiropractic. They learned about chiropractic by learning about other families successes and about 60 percent described improved quality of life for their kids. Now ask yourself if you could improve the quality of life of child that you know would you do it? A larger study out of Australia (J Paediatr Child Health 2005;41:424-7) showed similar results as the Canadian one with 51 percent of children using alternative care and chiropractic being the most used.

Low-Back pain in kids.

Really? Kids get low back pain too. One study (J Manipulative Physol Ther 200;26:1-8) reported that 24 percent of kids experienced low-back pain for more than three months! In the same study just under half of the kids started to report low-back pain after a traumatic event mostly a sport related event. That means that about half of them reported low-back pain without any trauma this often gets the diagnosis of growing pains which is actually a statement that the medical model has no treatment for kids with pain. Chiropractors see these symptoms as signals from your body and its innate intelligence that something could be wrong and seek to find the cause. The study goes on to point out that of all the kids included in this study a total of 61 percent reported low-back pain so if you have two children there is a chance that one will report low-back pain to you. The question is what will your response be?

Predictors of Low-Back Pain in Kids.

Besides the obvious playing sports that demand so much from growing kids like baseball gymnastics tennis and football research shows that the greatest predictor of low-back pain in kids was sitting for long periods in a poorly designed chair. Can you think of a situation that might put your child in this situation? The study (J Manipulative Physiol Ther 200;26:1-8) goes on to explain that overloaded backpacks and school bags provoke reports of low-back pain.

ADHD – Attention-deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

The drugs that are used to treat this condition are loaded with side-effects and there are suggestions that these stimulants increase the risk of drug abuse and leave the child with a greater susceptibility to the addictive power of cocaine. Well you might be surprised to learn that chiropractic research (J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1989;1:35-6) demonstrated impressive evidence that the majority of the children in this study did in fact improve under specific chiropractic care. This study shows that chiropractic has the potential to be a non-drug intervention or choice for parents concerned about the risks associated with a pharmaceutical approach.

Ear Aches

Any parent that has had a child diagnosed with otitis media or an ear infection knows just how disruptive this condition can be. The child May have crying spells interrupted sleep and overall discomfort. The treatment ranges from wait and see to tubes inserted in the kids ear. Chiropractic has been helping kids in this situation for years and now there is some scientific evidence that supports this claim. This study (J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1996;19:169-177) took 46 children 5 years or younger with ear infections. They all were seen by the same office they each were seen three times the first week and twice the second and then once per week until improved.

The results are amazing! 9 percent of the episodes improved by 75 percent in 10 days or fewer and by 4 percent after only one or two sessions! The parents reported no fever or signs of ear pain or symptoms.

Putting all together

All this proof that chiropractic helps with conditions that children face as they grow is wonderful for parents concerned about giving medication to their children needlessly. It is also encouraging to those who have or know of a family struggling with the decision to have tubes inserted in the kids ear. While chiropractors do not claim to treat any condition other than that of vertebral subluxation complex your chiropractor can find the cause of your childs problem in most cases and improve the quality of life for the entire family.

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