1 in 88.
1 in 54.
1 in 50.
These are the numbers that have swirled around the Autism community for the past year or so. That 1 in 54 is important to me because it most closely represents us- 1 in 54 boys will be diagnosed with Autism. At least that is the finding from a study of 8-year-olds in 2008.
That 1 in 50? That is from the most recent study.
1 in 50 kids has autism, according to a 2012 study. Of course, this study, along with all of the other studies, has it’s detractors. But really, 1 in 50 doesn’t seem too out of the ballpark to me.
So, what can you do?
Well, for one, if you have an infant or a toddler, and you have a nagging feeling that something is up- even if it’s “just” a speech delay…do me a favor and call Early Intervention.
If you have a friend who is worried about their child- let’s say he isn’t acquiring language at the same rate of his peers. (I’m using language because it’s usually the thing that triggers and evaluation, yet most people blow it off.)
Please, do NOT say any of these things:
– Boys talk later than girls
– He has an older sibling/ twin who communicates for him, it’s OK
– You always meet his needs for him, he doesn’t *need* to talk
– He was premature, he will talk later
– My cousin’s uncle didn’t talk until he was 4 and now he’s a lawyer…
Instead, LISTEN. I have a son who was a late talker and I have twins who lost language and became non-verbal. The gut feeling was completely different. The fear and worry was different. I knew pretty quickly that something was not right with the twins, and I didn’t worry at all with my youngest. It’s different.
If you have been in this place of worry, if you have ever called Early Intervention, if you have ever had a child diagnosed with Autism or another special need- please, SHARE your resources. Support a mom or dad when they have worries, do not blow them off. You should be their first shoulder to lean on, you have been in their shoes!
It is a really isolating place to be when the mothers around you abandon you in your greatest time of need. Telling someone not to worry is the equivalent of telling a mom to sit down and shut up. Sometimes things are not OK. Sometimes things warrant a professional opinion.
Why are we so quick to tell moms that everything is fine? Is it because we are afraid we are missing something with our own kids? Is it because their fear is also our fear and we desperately don’t want to peek behind the curtain and deal with what might be waiting for us?
Don’t wait. Don’t tell others to wait. Resources are available and completely irreplaceable. You do not want to “wait it out”- waiting is just wasting time. The only thing we have in this fight is early intervention, the key word being EARLY.
And one more thing- if there is a mom you know who is taking steps to figure out what is going on with her child, don’t tell her that she should stop looking. Don’t tell her that she can instead fix her child with oils (or herbs, diet, a warm bath before bedtime and spinning around 6 times upon waking up in the morning)- it only serves to prolong the inevitable, which in some cases takes away free and affordable supports.
This isn’t going away.