The newsLINK Group - Autistic Children and Public Schools

Editorial Library Category: Education Topics: Autistic Children and Public Schools Title: Autistic Children and Public Schools Author: newsLINK Staff Synopsis: U.S. families and schools have a problem, one that has been hidden for a long time and is only now becoming plain. You probably know that diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have increased. What you may not know, however, is the scope of the current problem. Editorial: Autistic Children and Public Schools 4064 South Highland Drive, Millcreek, Utah 84124 │ thenewslinkgroup.com │ (v) 801.676.9722 │ (tf) 855.747.4003 │ (f) 801.742.5803 Editorial Library | © The newsLINK Group LLC 1 U.S. families and schools have a problem, one that has been hidden for a long time and is only now becoming plain. You probably know that diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have increased. What you may not know, however, is the scope of the current problem: As indicated on the website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the ratio for ASD in 2008 was 1 child out of every 88. This number was based specifically on a group of 63,967 children who were eight years old when the study was performed. The results of the study represent a 23 percent increase in ASD diagnoses since 2006, and a 78 percent increase since 2002. In 2013, the CDC used a slightly larger group and a broader range of ages: 65,556 children between the ages of 6 and 17. The latest results, which are at least a little bit controversial, indicate that 1 child in 50 is now being diagnosed with ASD. (The possible problem with the most recent statistics is the fact that many parents who were asked to take the survey declined to participate, and those who did take the survey may have done so because their own children had already been diagnosed with ASD.) ASD affects every group — ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic — and it is almost five times more prevalent with boys (1 in 54) than with girls (1 in 252). Even so, there are two pieces of good news hidden in these statistics: Experts are getting better at diagnosing ASD, so the increase in numbers might only reflect the fact that it is easier to identify ASD. Children with ASD may have always been there, in other words, but they haven’t always gotten the help they needed since no one recognized the scope of the problem. In general, a later diagnosis usually reflects a milder disability. That makes sense: if someone has mild ASD, it may not be as easy to detect, but it also is less of a developmental hindrance. Children in Utah are at higher risk for ASD than children anywhere else in the U.S. Remember the national rate of 1 in 88 children? In Utah, that number was 1 in 47; not only that, but experts think ASD affects 1 out of every 32 Utah boys, and 1 out of every 85 Utah girls. The fact that boys are more likely to be diagnosed with ASD than girls is probably genetic and may occur simply because of a defect in the single male X chromosome that causes an anti-oxidant deficiency. Scientists have not yet figured out why autism spectrum disorders occur at all, although a study conducted at Stanford suggests that the disease is caused by a combination of environmental factors (62 percent) and genetics (38 percent). Other studies investigating the connection between the environment and genetics suggest that mothers who have a genetic deficiency in an anti-oxidant called glutathione are more likely to have children who are autistic. (The odds of having an autistic child are 1 in 3 if, in addition to the glutathione deficiency, the mother’s body is also making too much homocysteine.) Our bodies use glutathione to detoxify heavy metals caused by air pollution, and children with high levels of heavy metals are more likely to be severely autistic than children without this problem. Other toxic substances such as flame retardants, BPA, mercury, and some pharmaceuticals, such as anti-depressants, have also been linked to ASD. Homocysteine is an amino acid that is in the blood. Your body makes it from another amino acid, methionine, which can be found in foods such as eggs, fish, and sunflower seeds. Having too much homocysteine has also been linked to an increased risk for heart attacks, strokes, cancer, diabetes, thyroid disorders, neurological disorders (such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s), depression, infertility, chronic pain, and digestive disorders. In other words, the combination of genetic defects and exposure to toxic substances can both combine to cause ASD.

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