A Sea Change in Society   Leave a comment

Rates of autism are still increasing.  They have been moving upward since the condition was first described in the 1940s.  According to the May 6 issue of The Economist, in 1970 the rate was 1 in 14,000.

In 2000 when stats routinely began to be kept it was 7 per 1,000.  In 2006 it had risen to 9 in 1,000 and as of 2012 it was almost 15 per 1,000.

Depending on how severely someone is affected, it’s a disconcerting increase.  Costs of living for people so severely affected that they cannot support themselves with work are definitely concerning.  Many people, of course, are just different from what is considered the norm, but can still manage to make a living.  In many cases, they are extremely good at what they do, some of the best in their fields.

It looks like from 2000 to 2012 the rate of autism diagnosis doubled.  The Economist article did not deeply address the causes, nor did it indicate that any research is going forward to determine factors that are driving the increase of autism in the population.  It seems fair to assume that if we do not find out what the root of the problem is, we will have no tools with which to change its trajectory.

So, what will happen if the rate of autism continues to double?  Extrapolate outward to 2096.  Unscientifically speaking, if the trend of doubling every twelve years continues, there will be a great increase in the number of people on the autism spectrum.  If anything doubles, eventually it will have increased exponentially, and the population will be made up entirely of people who are diagnostically on the spectrum.

Maybe that’s unscientific and genetically impossible.  It’s probably more reasonable to assume that there will be, say, seven more people with autism per 1,000 every 12 years. If that happens instead of continued doubling, the rate will increase to 64 people per thousand by 2096.  For perspective, if the rate were 100 per thousand, that would be 10% of the total population.

Should this transpire, what a very different society we will have.

By definition for society to survive and thrive, it must make create new ways of working, interacting and getting things done.

Perhaps the social traits of those on the spectrum that are now seen as oddities or rudeness will become accepted.  Perhaps the strengths people with autism have would be more widely known and more greatly valued.

 

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Posted May 19, 2016 by swanatbagend in autism

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