Doctors: Autism Reaches Epidemic Levels

Houston – Autism is on the rise. Many doctors call it an epidemic.The neurological disorder not only affects the patient, it can devastate a family physically, emotionally and financially, Local 2 reported Wednesday.

The Autism Society of America says rates are soaring. Currently,more than 1.5 million children in the United States have been diagnosed. The group believes that in the next decade, 4 million more cases will be diagnosed. What’s causing the disorder that targets certain children seemingly overnight and steals the hopes and dreams of their parents? Ten-year-old Brandon is one of its victims. The disorder affects his ability tointeract and to reason.

“I don’t know what life is going to be like for him,” said Brandon’s mother, Michelle Guppy. “He will bite his hand or chew on his hand if he’s frustrated and can’t express something.”

Guppy said her son was not always like this. “We had the typical milestones. He raised his head. He did a lot of things that he was supposed to do,” she said. Then, overnight, after a series of childhood vaccinations, it was as if someone had flipped a switch.

“One day he cries when he falls. The next day he laughs when hefalls, but cries when we touch him,” Guppy said.

Most experts agree that autism is on the rise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, someform of it is diagnosed in one out of 166 people, yet in the late 1980s, it was seen in one in 10,000 births.

“Nowadays, it goes anywhere from one in 250 to one in 150,” said Dr. Arturo Volpe.

Volpe is part of a nationally recognized group called “DAN!,” which stands for “defeat autism now.”

“Usually, their first year and a half of development is completely unremarkable just like other children. They have very good eye contact.They smile and may say the first few words,” Volpe said.

Then, around age 3, everything changes. Despite countless research studies, it is still unclear why. “For many parents, there is just no doubt,” Volpe said. “We believe there’s some connection with the vaccinations,” Guppy said.

Today, babies are required to get 20 vaccinations by the time theyare 2 years old. Many of them include a preservative called thimerosol, whichis 50 percent mercury, a known toxin to man.

“If you add up all the thimerosol, it was banned but never recalled. Many claim it’s still on the shelves,” Volpe said.

“Are we giving too many at once? And too close together?” Guppysaid.

Volpe said there’s just not enough evidence, and to compound the confusion, mainstream pediatricians insist the shots are safe. University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston’s Dr. Kim Smith said it’s the alternative that parents should worry about.

“I’m really afraid if we see these diseases coming back, we willhave patients dying,” Smith said.

Guppy is not against vaccines. “I’m saying I wish I was more informed when those needles werecoming at my son and I was just told to sign a consent form,” she said. For more information on autism, visit www.texasautismadvocacy.org.

For information on a 5K walk on Nov. 20 that is raising money tofight autism, visit www.walknow.org.

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