Thursday, August 7, 2008

autism prevalence 1 in 10 children by2013, 2018 at latest???!!!

Yes, your eyes are not playing tricks on you. This is a statistic that Asperger's author William Stillman says he believes will happen. Actually he says In fact, I’m going to predict that within five to ten years, the rate in the United States will jump to 1 in 10 children. He states this in his blog post . Stillman seems to think that autism is some sort of new stage in human evolution and that this is a preordained plan from God as far as I can tell. He has written a book called Autism and the God Connection which I have not read but now may have to try to read as well as his other books, since he is a writer with such an interesting perspective. He says that he has a diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome. He seems to take an interest in the entire autism spectrum, though Asperger's syndrome in the cases of many people who claim to have it is very different from classic autism, which I had as a very small child, where I could not speak at age 3. So even if 10% of all children born around 2005 or so, are not autistic by 2013 they will be by 2018.

I am going to try really hard to remember this prediction and write about it in 5 years and then in 10 years, if I am still alive at that time and able to write about it.

Stillman makes this video in which he claims that increases in autism prevalence are analogous to evolution. He compares the evolution of homo sapiens from homo erectus, neanderthal man and more primitive forms of humans that apparently took thousands of years, to the increases in autism that have only taken place in the last 20 years (I guess I should say alleged increases). He also makes the common error of stating that the prevalence rate for autism in 1990 was 1 in 10,000 to show how much autism has been increasing. Going back to studies done in the United States in the early 1980s and the Lotter study done in England in 1966, prevalence rates for autism were 4/10,000. The 1 in 10,000 figure comes from a study published around 1970 by Darold Treffert in the days when very few people had heard of autism and certainly no one would have even thought that people of normal intelligence could claim to have autism. Certainly Stillman himself would not have been thought of as autistic during the time this study was done. To the best of my knowledge, this is the only published epidemiologic study that has a prevalence figure that is this low.

Stillman is not the only person to make this mistake or use this statistic to make a supposed autism epidemic or increase look worse than it really is. Jenny McCarthy on television did the same thing, though she gives the 1/10,000 date as 1983. Dr. Robert Hedron, who is in charge of the MIND institute used this statistic also at ASA 2008 when he was one of the keynote speakers. He gave the year 1993 when the prevalence was still supposedly 1/10,000.

Like many neurodiversity adherents Stillman seems to find virtues in autism, saying they need less words to speak and aren't into competition and aggression.

Though Stillman seems to think that autism is the next step in a positive evolution, he does not seem to deny that autism can be a problem for some and that autistics need some sort of help. In fact, he has a consulting service in which he charges $100 for phone consultations. He won't do email consultations for ethical reasons, but for some reason thinks that talking to parents on the phone for $100 is somehow ethical. He won't accept payment from parents directly but apparently from school districts and other providers. Stillman states that he has a bachelors in education. Other than that, I am not exactly sure what his qualifications are to make these consultations and charge $100 an hour except that he is a guy who has published a few books and claims to have asperger's syndrome. If this web site is accurate,, Stillman does not even have a diagnosis of an ASD by a trained clinician, he is self-diagnosed as Asperger's, yet he can get books published and apparently can make judgements over the phone about kids he has never met. He will only do the consultations in one hour increments which I presume means that he won't charge $117 for a 70 minute consultation, but will either charge $200 for it or insist on a full two hours. I suppose because of the supreme court's decision in the Shannon Carter case which said that parents can legally have school districts reimburse them for programs in their IEPs that use non credentialed personnel means that Stillman can do this and have school districts reimburse him for these consultations.

In spite of claiming that at least a one hundred dollar one hour consultation is needed Stillman claims in one article he wrote, that all he needs is ten minutes with an autistic child to tell his parents exactly what they need. This seems to be a record for omniscience among autism clinicians credentialed or otherwise.

I may have to spend more time reading this guy's web page and articles to glean more interesting insights from this absolutely fascinating spectrumite and autism author. I may have to revise this blog post or at least add to it if and when I find more interesting tidbits of info.

I realize I will have to be patient to wait five, maybe ten years to see if Stillman's incredible prediction comes true. I remember one parent of an autistic child I met at a conference about four and a half years ago who stated that because thimerosal had largely been taken out of vaccinations that the autism rate in the California state regional centers would go down to about 4/10,000 by about 2007. Certainly that prediction did not come to pass. I think I can wait and see if Stillman's prediction comes true.


Anonymous said...

what a moron this guy must be. My son was fine and even talking until he got the MMR shot. Nobody seems to believe that the shot some how some way causes autism.
I also think it is immoral to prey on parents of autistic children by charging money for phone consultations as mentioned.
The child should be seen in person by a true professional.

lurker said...

This man expresses way too much vile twisted rhetoric to be considered helpful for any kind of consultation for autism. This fraud should be prosecuted for ripping off school districts. His consultations should be included in no programs covered by school districts.

Anonymous said...

I just saw Stillman as the keynote speaker at an autism conference. Although many of my co-workers were enthralled by his speech, I felt it had a very televangelist style to it. I was absolutely shocked by how narrow-minded he was. If he technically doesn't have ASD, he certainly seems to have trouble with perspective taking. He made broad blanket statements about all individuals on the spectrum; "WE don't like ...", "WE are...," when anyone familiar with autism would know that every individual can be vastly different! Just because HE has certain senstivities and symptoms, does not mean others with autism do.

The extent to which he is a fraud isn't even covered in this blog post. Yes, sometimes he spends only a few minutes with a person with autism before "translating to the neurotypical community," but he also told a story about a time he was only given a description of generic self-injurous behavior and shown a picture of a girl and he knew with his "intuition" that she was being sexually abused.

It gets worse: at the conference he met with parents and READ THEIR PALMS. He read one mother's palm and told her there was something wrong with the electricity in their house (which I assume he means is affecting her autistic son's symptoms.)

This man is a fraud. It kills me to think of him taking not only money from people and school districts, but taking advantage of parents desperate for answers and help.

Anonymous said...

U said u would try real hard to remember in 5 yrs to see if the numbers are correct. The 2008 statistics that were released by the cdc this yr say 1 in 88. Those r 4 yr old statistics meaning the calculation now for 2012 is 1 in 11:he was right