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.