Humans of SWFL

Autism Spectrum Disorder Cases Rising ... Why?

While the cause is up for debate, experts are saying it’s due in part to environmental factors and the changing diagnostic criteria.

Autism in children is on the rise, but nobody really knows why.

Judy Burns’ son Peter was diagnosed with Autism at two years and 10 months old — but July started noticing developmental differences after 18 months.

“I do think the incidence of autism has risen,” Judy said.

The Center for Disease Control estimates 1 in 59 children have Autism Spectrum Disorder in 2014. In 2002, that number was 1 in 150.

While some experts say cases of autism are rising due to changing diagnostic criteria, others say that is not the reason for ALL of the cases.

“The definition of autism has evolved in that it is a spectrum disorder,” Judy said. “I think pesticides, I think over-vaccination, I think the ingredients in vaccines may contribute in some cases.”

“I believe the incidence of autism is increasing. I don’t think this is just an improvement in our diagnosis criteria,” Doctor Brian Thornburg said. He has been a pediatrician for over a decade and works with autistic children.

“There are several causes that could lead to autism. Obviously it’s obv written into their genetics that allows for the presentation to happen. We don’t know what triggers the genes to express this. Some children are just so vulnerable that they present right off the bat,” he said. “Others seem to have a point in time where they change from a typical child to an autistic child and we don’t know what those triggers could be.”

“I think the biggest thing we can do is to connect to the services and ask for services they need for their children,” Judy said.

Judy is part of the Connect Coalition, which helps connect the local autism community.

The coalition currently had a Community Needs Assessment available to learn about the needs of the community — intended for advocates, family members, and service providers related to disability needs, resources, and services.

The assessment is available here.