In response to the new CDC autism prevalence rate, several organizations concerned with the skyrocketing rate of autism put together this letter demanding accountability from the federal government for their response to the autism epidemic. This coalition of concerned organizations invites other organizations to join this effort by adding their names to the signature line.
The CDC press release follows the letter below:
March 27, 2013
CDC: 2.4% of American 12 Year Old Boys Have an Autism Diagnosis
President Obama: Fire the CDC and NIH Autism Epidemic Deniers Immediately
Dear President Obama,
Fire the deniers! Fire the federal employees who deny the existence of an autism epidemic. An American child is diagnosed with Autism every 8 minutes – a rate that continues to rise. President Obama, you need to remove the federal autism leadership at NIH and the CDC. Until leadership at NIH and CDC realizes that it is impossible to have a genetic epidemic in one generation, there will not be a proper emphasis on environmental research and subsequent treatments.
Your Federal autism team is at best, misleading you (and the country) and at worst, outright lying. Please consider appointing a special prosecutor to investigate their malfeasance. The undersigned Autism advocacy organizations request that you immediately send a clear message and fire the three federal employees who have made a career of denying the autism epidemic: CDC’s Dr. Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp and Dr. Coleen Boyle as well as NIHM’s Dr. Thomas Insel.
In 1981, Dr. Yeargin-Allsopp joined the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The autism rate then was 1 in 10,000. Under her watch, the rate of autism prevalence has gone from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 68 — increasing 14700% while Dr. Yeargin-Allsopp has been counting. Despite this precipitous rise, she can’t be sure if it’s a real increase. For the past twenty years the increase has been attributed to changes in diagnostic definition and better case finding by the CDC despite the lack of data to confirm those comforting suppositions. Even worse the CDC has never conducted, or ever even proposed doing, the basic epidemiology that could determine definitively the extent of the increase. (1) Rice CE, et al., Evaluating Changes in the Prevalence of the Autism Spectrum Disorders (2012), at 12.
While Dr. Yeargin-Allsopp should have been sounding the alarm for the past 20 years, instead the best she can say is “a true increase cannot be ruled out.” (1) Dr. Yeargin-Allsopp also counts the autism rate unbelievably slowly. Using 21st century technology, the CDC can find tainted eggs, spinach or cantaloupes within a matter of hours or days. How is it acceptable for the autism rate to be counted at age eight with a four-year time lag to process the data her agency collects? It takes twelve years for her to come up with a current autism rate, which is simply unacceptable. Dr. Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp is not up to the job of supervising the autism count honestly. We demand that you fire or reassign her to a position where she can do less harm.
Dr. Coleen Boyle has been with the CDC since 1984 and has been running the National Center on Birth Defects and Disabilities (NCBDD) since 2004. As is the case with Dr. Yeargin-Allsopp’s tenure, during Dr. Boyle’s employment the autism rate has increased 14700%. In the 1980s, Dr. Boyle was a leader in the federal government’s effort to protect Monsanto and Dow Chemical from potential culpability in the Agent Orange health crisis. Today, NCBDD is the main government agency charged with denying the autism epidemic and Dr. Boyle is a leader in the effort to protect the chemical and pharmaceutical industries from potential culpability in the autism epidemic. She is paid by taxpayers, but she appears to work repeatedly to protect corporations from accountability for adverse health outcomes. She has held onto her job despite multiple appearances in front of Congress where she made a fool of herself under aggressive questioning on autism. We demand that you fire or reassign her to a position where she can do less harm.
Dr. Thomas Insel has been at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) since 2002 when the autism rate was 1 in 500 — the autism rate has increased 7350% while he has been coordinating the autism gene hunt. At this point, the genome has been mapped and there is no “autism gene.” Despite this fact, the federal government and the committee he chairs, continues to disproportionately fund genetic research vs. environmental research. Dr. Insel is part of the problem, not part of the solution. We demand that you fire him as the leader of the combating autism effort or reassign him to a position where he can do less harm.
This increase in Autism is not “diagnostic substitution.” Autism in 2014 was not formerly diagnosed as mental retardation. This is a lie designed to deny and minimize the size of autism epidemic. The increase in Autism is not “greater awareness”: PSAs to create “awareness” are not necessary when there is a child with Autism on every block in this country. Two percent of boys in the United States are currently diagnosed on the Autism spectrum. Citing “greater awareness” to explain the increase in autism is designed to deny and minimize the size of the autism epidemic. Federal employees who have exaggerated the role of autism awareness should be fired, or reassigned to a position in the federal government where they will do less harm to society.
President Obama – please Fire the Deniers as a first step towards being the first President to honestly address the ongoing Autism epidemic.
President Obama – when the CDC counts autism slowly and minimizes the scope of this epidemic, it has the real world effect of altering NIH research priorities. The catastrophic increase in autism diagnoses is a clear indication that NIH should prioritize environmental research over genetic research.
Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Your Federal autism team needs to be replaced entirely in order to possibly slow and hopefully stop the autism epidemic.
CDC press release:
CDC estimates 1 in 68 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder
Latest snapshot shows proportion of children with autism and higher IQ on the rise
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 68 children (or 14.7 per 1,000 eight-year-olds) in multiple communities in the United States has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This new estimate is roughly 30 percent higher than previous estimates reported in 2012 of 1 in 88 children (11.3 per 1,000 eight year olds) being identified with an autism spectrum disorder. The number of children identified with ASD ranged from 1 in 175 children in Alabama to 1 in 45 children in New Jersey.
The surveillance summary report, “Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder among Children Aged 8 Years – Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 Sites, United States, 2010,” was published today in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Researchers reviewed records from community sources that educate, diagnose, treat and/or provide services to children with developmental disabilities. The criteria used to diagnose ASDs and the methods used to collect data have not changed.
The data continue to show that ASD is almost five times more common among boys than girls: 1 in 42 boys versus 1 in 189 girls. White children are more likely to be identified as having ASD than are black or Hispanic children.
Levels of intellectual ability vary greatly among children with autism, ranging from severe intellectual challenges to average or above average intellectual ability. The study found that almost half of children identified with ASD have average or above average intellectual ability (an IQ above 85) compared to a third of children a decade ago.
“Community leaders, health professionals, educators and childcare providers should use these data to ensure children with ASD are identified as early as possible and connected to the services they need,” said Coleen Boyle, Ph.D., M.S. hyg., director of CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities.
The report also shows most children with ASD are diagnosed after age 4, even though ASD can be diagnosed as early as age 2. Healthy People 2020, the nation’s 10-year health objectives, strives to increase the proportion of young children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other developmental delays who are screened, evaluated, and enrolled in early intervention services in a timely manner.
“The most important thing for parents to do is to act early when there is a concern about a child’s development,” said Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp, M.D., chief of CDC’s Developmental Disabilities Branch. “If you have a concern about how your child plays, learns, speaks, acts, or moves, take action. Don’t wait.”
If you suspect that your child may have ASD:
- Talk to your child’s doctor about your concerns.
- At the same time, call your local early intervention program or school system for a free evaluation.
- It’s never too late to get help for your child.
CDC’s “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” program has joined with others across the federal government to promote developmental and behavioral screening through the Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive campaign, which will be launched today. The program will help families look for and celebrate milestones; promote universal screenings; identify delays as early as possible; and improve the support available to help children succeed in school and thrive alongside their peers.
“More needs to be done to identify children with autism sooner,” said Boyle. “Early identification is the most powerful tool we have right now to make a difference in the lives of children with autism.”
Through the Affordable Care Act, more Americans will have access to health coverage and to no-cost preventive services, including autism screening for children at 18 and 24 months. Most health insurance plans are no longer allowed to deny, limit, or exclude coverage to anyone based on a pre-existing condition, including persons with autism spectrum disorder. Visit Healthcare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596 (TTY/TDD 1-855-889-4325) to learn more. Open enrollment in the Marketplace began October 1 and ends March 31, 2014.
For additional information on:
- Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network and this report, visit www.cdc.gov/autism.
- CDC’s autism research, visit www.cdc.gov/SEED
- Community Report from the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network.
- Developmental milestone checklists and other resources to help families track their child’s development, visitwww.cdc.gov/milestones.
- What to do if you are concerned about your child’s development, visit www.cdc.gov/Concerned.
- State’s early intervention contact information, visit www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/parents/states.html.
- Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive, is part of a coordinated federal effort to encourage developmental and behavioral screening and support for children, families, and the providers who care for them. Watch for updates atwww.hhs.gov/watchmethrive (expected to be announced later today).
CDC works 24/7 saving lives, protecting people from health threats, and saving money through prevention. Whether these threats are global or domestic, chronic or acute, curable or preventable, natural disaster or deliberate attack, CDC is the nation’s health protection agency.