Autism– Canary in the Coal Mine?

Autism cases are growing at an alarming rate.  According to the Center of Disease Control, NINDS, the most recent stats indicate that 1 in 88 children will be born with autism, up from 1 in 110 only a few years ago. Up from 1 in 10,000 in the seventies.

Current research is  focusing on 2 main areas, genetics and environment, and when they say “environment”,  scientists most often mean the vast sea of chemicals that interact with our bodies.

“There are still  84,000 chemicals used in commerce, which are supposed to be regulated by the Toxic Chemicals Control Act (TSCA).   Guess how many chemicals have been restricted since TSCA was passed in 1976? Five. Yes, you read that right. Five.” (from  Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff  in her blog for “Parentables”)

We’ve come a long ways from the quaint  “refrigerator mothers” who were thought to cause autism, (even Temple Grandin’s mother heard this),  and past the 70’s anti-psychiatry ideas of  Thomas Szasz in  The Myth of Mental Illness.   It’s clear now that most “mental illness” derives from a physical cause, and is rightly considered to be a disease of the brain.   It’s frightening to think of the neurological damage being done by something, although what that something is, has not come into focus yet.   It could be that autism is a sort of  “canary in the coal mine” for us.


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