Thursday, February 27, 2014

William Stillman's prediction falls flat so far

William Stillman is an individual alleging to be on the autism spectrum who some years ago wrote a variety of books about autism, parenting, and a controversial book, Autism and the God Connection where he apparently alleges the huge increases in prevalence of autism in recent years is some sort of divine plan. (I have not read this book)  For some years, Mr. Stillman had remained dormant and I had not really heard anything about or by him in a while.  He recently wrote a piece for the Huffington Post giving his most recent take on the Autism Epidemic.  Old time readers of autism's gadfly will remember a post I wrote more than five years ago where Mr. Stillman stated that autism was a new stage in human evolution.  He predicted that the prevalence of autism would increase to 1 in 10 individuals within a five to ten year period.  He made this prediction nearly six years ago.  I stated in the post that I would write blog posts during the time frames of his predictions.  I suppose I should have written about this last year in 2013.  In the better late than never department, I'm writing about it now.  The highest figures for autism prevalence given lately are 1 in 88.  There is also a 1 in 50 prevalence number that is dropped sometimes which was just the result of a phone survey and used a very different technique from that used to get the 1 in 88 number.  In fact, the trend seems to be going in the opposite direction of Stillman's prophecy.  Recent news stories are stating that autism diagnoses will likely drop 30% because of changes in the DSM and APA guidelines.

I realize that Bill Stillman did not state a flat 5 year time frame, but did give a 5 to ten year time frame in his prediction.  CDC studies (excluding the one 1 in 50 study) have shown that autism diagnoses have gone up somewhat in the past five years, but not at the same rate that Stillman predicted.  I don't know if there will be new prevalence numbers in the next couple of years after new APA guidelines and the new DSM have been around long enough to be relevant.  I'll await to see what they are.  I guess I'll have to try to remember to write a new post toward the end of 2018 commenting on whether or not Stillman's prediction came true.

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