The writer is in the US.
THERE are days when I feel truly helpless in my efforts to raise concern over the developmental decline of children.
I remember in 2004 when the autism rate was announced at one in every 166 children, one in every 102 boys. I thought that was a serious number, and autism was still an unfamiliar term to many people.
Over the years, as the rate got worse and worse, I felt eventually people would be alarmed enough and demand health officials figure out what was going on.
It never happened.
Instead, with every increase, US health officials dismissed the new rate as ‘better diagnosing’ of a condition that’s always been around. They always called for early intervention without any recognition of what autism was doing to more and more children.
Now in 2023, autism is accepted as a normal part of childhood. Its cause is still a mystery, but one that we’ve all been conditioned to live with.
This is how we’ve normalize autism. We can now expect that a given number of children will be autistic. There’s nothing we can do but accept it.
Autism is something we have no control over. Officially it has no known cause, cure or prevention. Helping the world adjust to autism as a fact of life seems to be our only recourse.
In order to accomplish this, we have calls to make businesses, public services and whole cities ‘autism friendly’. Part of the motivation is genuine concern for autistic people, and part is because accommodating this population is good for business, given the continuously increasing numbers.
On Monday a story from Dublin showed how willing we are to surrender our children to autism.
Dublin wants to be ‘autism friendly’.
Newstalk: ‘A really exciting day’ – Dublin bids to become first ‘autism friendly’ capital
‘Dublin will today launch its Autism Friendly City plan, in a bid to become the world’s most autism friendly capital city. The plan will be launched by Lord Mayor Daithí de Róiste and Adam Harris of autism charity As I Am. “It’s a really exciting day,” Cllr de Róiste said. “In a world where diversity and inclusivity is celebrated, Dublin’s vision is to become the first capital city in the world to be designated autism friendly. We’re going to embark on a three year journey to create this city where autistic individuals and their families feel welcome, supported and fully engaged in every aspect of city life. I do hope where Dublin leads, the rest of the country can follow also because it’s so, so important that we are inclusive and, at the moment, we still have a long road to go”.’
This is insane.
Autism numbers are not leveling off. They will continue to increase because nothing is being done to stop what’s happening to children. Pretending that all we need to do is recognize autism, is the ultimate in neglect and incompetence.
These children are the future for Ireland, yet officials are willing close their eyes to what’s happening to them. Past stories should have raised alarms.
Over 25 percent of schoolchildren have special needs in Ireland. This 2021 article in Research OutReach says: ‘Between 2011 and 2019 government expenditure on special education increased by 46 per cent, and special education as a percentage of the total education budget increased by 13 per cent, with €1.9billion allocated to special education in 2019 . . . The number of students enrolled in special classes also increased by 155 per cent and the number of students enrolled in special schools increased by 15 per cent. It is now estimated that over a quarter of all students in Ireland’s mainstream schools have additional learning needs and/or disabilities.’
Last year the Cork Independent reported: figures published this year by the [Ireland] Department of Health reveal that 14,000 children between the ages of four and 15 have an autism diagnosis – around 4.7 per cent of the school population. This is four times higher than the figure of just 1.2 per cent ten years ago.’
That percentage means that one in every 21 schoolchildren, one in every 13 boys has autism in Ireland.
Dressing it up as ‘inclusivity’ and ‘neurodiversity’ and being ‘autism friendly’ does nothing to delay the inevitable. Autism will bury Ireland with the cost and services needed for all these children throughout their lives.
I could post dozens of stories showing the suffering that autism brings to people’s lives. The ultimate insult to families is what’s happening in Dublin.
I have a story that I wrote in September this year. It tells the truth about autism is doing to Ireland. This is the horrible truth that the mayor of Dublin ignores.
I wrote: There is absolutely NO ONE who cares why this is happening.