Persons with autism are trapped on a battleground where statistics get the spin by those who must deliver the bad news. Families of the affected are casualties of these number games, watching the body count rise.

The government’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has spoken again. Now, 1 in 50 children have autism in America. That’s the equivalent of one kid on every school bus. EVERY bus.    

Bureaucrats are quick to trot out worn excuses and strange logic in service of a resounding pat on their own backs. They assure that these rising numbers are due to better diagnostic procedures. The professionals are catching ‘em quicker now.

But have you seen the legions of older, undiagnosed adults with autism that they apparently missed up until now? Me neither. According to CDC reasoning, these afflicted should be plentiful on the streets or maybe hiding out in living rooms, having missed the sharper pinpoints of the newer diagnostic net. The aging, passed-over, autistic horde…where are they?

Consider instead that our kids, increasingly saddled with mental-health labeling, are in trouble due to that big umbrella tagged TOXIC (toxic food, vaccines, air, household cleaners, water… a post-modern stew with ingredients added daily). This is the Big Unacknowledged, justifying drugs that dismantle minds and spirits along with “behaviors.” This state of affairs will multiply until the truth is served with statistics, and numbers are used to heal, not conceal.

Many have noted our toxic children as the “canaries in the coal mine,” harbingers of the coming collapse. But coal miners paid immediate attention to these delicate beings: when the canaries in their cages sickened underground, every adult down there knew catastrophe was imminent. They knew to take action.

 Maybe we are, as a people, already too far gone: we seem to care so little about our own kind, even the young, who should evoke a biological urge to tend and protect. Native American teachings suggest weighing the impact of any action on seven generations forward.  Are our leaders themselves so fogged by their own unacknowledged, toxic body burdens they can’t see beyond today, the self (“aut” = self), and the salve of consumer gratification?

I’m wondering where this all ends. When 1 in 2 children are diagnosed with autism, will we still let the number-holders deploy their smokescreen? Will we continue to shun “those weird kids” as losers at the achievement game? Will they so overwhelm school districts that general education will serve them and special education will be for the lucky-untouched (“gifted”)?

I wonder too if there will be enough caregivers, therapists, respite workers and strong hearts to stem the tide before the permanent loss of humanity’s social, emotional, physical, and mental potential. If we keep pruning benefits like Medicaid, those with autism will never be served, only looked through and beyond. A sad norm labeled “Them” on the streets.

But this time, for real. They will be there. And in mom’s living room too.

How swiftly the future gallops toward us.

Please read one quotable, reputable scientific article and speak with others. This is an American issue, a global issue, an environmental crisis. Words have power; education transforms.


Sue Westwind is a survivor of the psychiatric system, an ecotherapist and Holistic Mental Health Coach in private practice, and mother to a 16-year old girl with autism. She chronicles their dual healing in her book, Lunacy Lost: A Memoir of Green Mental Health (2012).