by on October 21, 2020
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Autism rates are surging across the globe, according to several medical studies. Here in the US, our Autism rates have tripled since 2000, with a prevalence rate of 1 in 54 kids according to the CDC.

I am no Autism expert, but I am a mom to a son born on the Spectrum who was diagnosed before 15 months. Contrary to the “experts” saying Autism cannot be diagnosed before 2 or 3, you can diagnose early if you know what you are looking for and it is imperative we do.

Waiting until 2 or 3 is too late. By the time the child receives a diagnosis, goes through a program like Babies Can’t Wait in Georgia as we did to help ease the financial burden of therapy costs, and identifying appropriate therapists, 3 to 10 months will go by depending on how aggressively the parents pursue action and availability of resources.

Studies show that a child’s brain is quite malleable through age 3; this is why early intervention is critical.

Here are subtle signs that led me to believe something was “off” with my son and to his Autism diagnosis before he was even a year and a half.

When my son was born, he was born with forward tongue thrust, and as a result, could not latch properly during breastfeeding. It made breastfeeding very difficult. Studies now link early maternal experiences with babies born on the spectrum.

Motion Sickness — By 4 months old, my son was exhibiting signs of motion sickness. He would vomit during car rides. We carried Hyland’s motion sickness tablets everywhere we went. Childen with Autism are prone to motion sickness. To combat motion sickness, we enrolled our son into horseback riding; it forced our son to work on his equilibrium balance. I will share he hates horses today but his motion sickness went away.

Our son had a serious texture aversion that presented itself by 6 months old. For example, if a koosh ball touched him, he would scream. Texture aversion is common for babies born on the spctrum.

Sensory Overload: Up until 2nd grade, he experienced continuous sensory overload. We did not attend fireworks shows, we left weddings early, and we even had to go into a bookstore in Traverse City when the Blue Angels airshow became too much, resulting in full-on meltdowns.

He was a purist when it came to food; nothing on his plate was allowed to touch. Picky eating is common for children on the spectrum.

My son failed to point or babble at 12 months of age.

While my son’s gross motor skills were on par, meaning he sat up before 3 months of age, walked before a year, and even escaped his crib at 13 months, his fine motor skills lagged behind. For example, he could not drink out of a straw until he was nearly two years old. The average age to drink out of a straw is around 7 to 8 months old thanks to juice boxes and supply cups.

He was too perfect of a baby. He slept through the night before 6 weeks old. He was never fussy as my second child was.

I shared these concerns with my first doctor, who told me I was neurotic when I presented my concerns when my son was about 9 months old; I was told Autism is never diagnosed before 2. It was such an unusual response because it never occurred to me my son had Autism. We went on to a new doctor who took my concerns seriously. It was then confirmed by a team at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta that my son was behind on developmental milestones.

The Marcus Center of Autism had a wait of 9 months for the first appointment, so we paid out of pocket for a Developmental Pediatrician in Atlanta. From there, we were connected with Babie’s Can’t Wait to help offset therapy costs.

Thanks to early intervention and therapy consisting of music, speech and occupational therapies and an IEP plan at school in place until 5th grade, my son today exhibits no signs of Autism and placed into all advanced high school classes.

…And for what it is worth, I do NOT believe vaccines cause Autism. I do, however, believe nutrition plays a serious role during pregnancy and a child’s early years.

China

After China joined the WTO in 2001, our diets in the US changed. By 2009, 70% of the apple juice, 43% of the processed mushrooms, 22% of the frozen spinach and 78% of the tilapia Americans ate came from China. China today is the largest producer of potatoes.

It is now proven that many fruit juices made from China have arsenic and lead likely due to China’s fertilizing practices; In the early 2000s, the FDA inspected less than 2% of imported food and rarely visited Chinese food manufacturers. Between 2009 and 2010, the FDA conducted only 13 food inspections in China. Learn more here.

In 2015, under the Obama Administration, the House voted to remove the origin of beef, pork and chicken products.

Autism Spike since 2000

Up until 1992, China’s apple production was small. It wasn’t until the Clinton Administration in the late 1990s that China’s apple production went from $50Million to a $1.4Billion dollar business in 8 years with the US becoming the largest importer. Apple juice and apple juice concentrate is in everything; think juice, Coca Cola, snacks, cereals, etc. Do you know how much straight apple juice our government buys for public schools? Autism rates were officially tracked by the CDC starting in 2000. Between 2000 and 2010, Autism rates in U.S. children increased by 119.4% from 2000 (1 in 150) to 2010 (1 in 68).

Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability. I can share first hand Autism is expensive and nor do I believe our current system can handle the growing number of Autism Cases should Autism be diagnosed before age 2. To ease the financial burden and not having enough service providers, I suspect is the reason behind why during the Obama Administration the Asperger’s Diagnosis quietly went away in 2013 and the World Health Organization quickly following suit. Unless you had a child on the spectrum, this news went largely unnoticed. And this change was huge.

Had a child like my son been diagnosed after 2013, he would not have received all of the therapy he received because he would have been considered “too mild” on the spectrum. Babies Can’t Wait in Georgia was already financially strapped in 2007; they were not prepared to handle a larger number of cases nor did they have enough service providers. We got to know many of our therapists who were in and out of our home and they each expressed working for Babies Can’t Wait was difficult. Our therapists often complained they spent more time on paperwork than working directly with kids. This is a huge concern with Joe Biden’s government run healthcare, how will children receive the therapy they desperately need? More doctors will flee to private practice.

I suspect this is why the age of diagnosis is stuck on this arbitrary age of 2 or 3. If a child is diagnosed at age 3, by the time they get through diagnosis, find therapists the child is very close to 4 years old. In the state of Georgia, a child graduates from Babies Can’t Wait to the Public School system for Pre K at age 4.

An IEP (Individual Education Plan) now comes into play vs early intervention; You now work with the public school system and Special Education comes into play, Special Education and pullout is necessary but not a final solution and should only be used as last resort; What many parents don’t realize is that Special Education is Remedial Education; you do not want your child in special education long term. As we integrated my son into mainstream classes during 4th grade, it was evident he was behind other 4th graders from all aspects including reading and math. Find me a kid in special education who is not pushed forward to the next grade; there is a different standard in education.

On a side note, I found it fascinating how Hilary Clinton used Autism as part of her presidential platform in 2016. Headlines such as “Hillary Clinton’s autism platform is transformational and empowering” and” Scientists, advocates hail Hillary Clinton’s autism plan” were the norm. All of these articles support the diagnosis of 2 or age 3 and it is hurting kids.

To address Autism, President Trump signed the Autism Care Act into law in 2019, pumping $1.8 Billion dollars into our system to address Autism over the course of the next three years.

And why does this all matter? Autism services cost U.S. citizens $236–262 billion annually. The cost of lifelong care can be reduced by 2/3 with early diagnosis and intervention. This is a big deal as we look to systematically reduce our cost of health insurance and government services in the long run.

My son is a is a living example to what effective early intervention can do. He no longer exhibits signs of Autism, placement in advanced mainstream classes, participates in sports and has his own group of friends. I have no doubt he will become anything he chooses to be when he grows up.

Posted in: Education, Health
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