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July 17, 2005


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Thanks much for linking to my blog, Skeptico! Much appreciated. As for the question of what Kirby is on about, what he seems to have done is taken the total autism caseload, looked at the increase over time, and decided that the increase in caseload equals the number of young children being diagnosed and added to the system. Not a valid assumption, but that's how he does it. So when the rate of increase in caseload decreases, Kirby decides that autism incidence is decreasing.

So apparently Kirby hasn't dug down another level into the California data to see that the caseload is actually broken out by age group, so we can see directly whether the number of cases among 3-5 year-olds is decreasing. And despite what Kirby says, it's actually increasing.

So why is the rate of increase in caseload decreasing while the number of cases among 3-5 year-olds is increasing? Probably because a small number of older children and adults are dropping out of the system, although I couldn't swear that this is the explanation or whether other factors are at work too.

Um, what about the recent report that 287 contaminants (including mercury) were found in blood samples taken from umbilical cords (I don't think they looked into amounts.) Is it possible that any increased rates of autism could be linked to an increase in the amount of contaminants that are making it into mother's systems? I ask because unless this is not feasible for some reason I would have expected someone like Kennedy to draw this more obvious, imo, inference than the thimerosal one.

There is an article in the current Discover magazine that notes that UCLA scientists have identified a gene that is linked to autism:


A PubMed search on Dr. R. Cantor does not turn up this work, but does show two prior papers on genetic links to autism in 2002. Genetic links to autism certainly weaken the case against thimerosal, so hopefully the new work reported in Discover will also appear in a peer-reviewed journal soon.

Some nice little mercury mom posted this on the huffington post. It's got all kinds of nice stuff in it that tends to disprove her favorite mercury ideas.
It's pdf file.


It's about the difference in European and US usage of thimerosal, it's not exhaustive, but interesting.

A few quick factors to add: [1] In Sept of 2003, the DDS/Calif Regional Centers eligiblity factors to receive services were changed - no longer were cases taken unless the client had a *substantial* disability. [2] Merc-scare-mongers will claim that the numbers began to drop prior to the "substantial disability" requirement. Some claim that there was a downward trend in intakes beginning in the Fall of 2002. However, from my personal experience, I was told by a Regional Center employee that they were in the midst of a "budget freeze" and this was in the Summer of 2002. [3] Clients have begun to drop out of the Regional Centers due to the threat of their finances being audited. For many, they stopped reimbursements for services unless the family complied to an audit. Everyone I know who was threatened with an audit fought it and is still fighting it or just left. [4] The Regional Centers are notorious for not calling back prospective clients. They also employ various sorts of delaying tactics like losing new case files; changing supervisors so quickly that they lose who's on their case load, etc. [5] In the end, and someone please correct me if this is faulty logic, the numbers are really rather "self-reporting". The family has to make the call and then pursue getting an appointment and further pursue getting services. It's completely up to the family to push the Regional Centers for eligiblilty and services provided. Frankly, many are just not up for this kind of rigorous endeavour; especially at the out-set of dealing with all of the issues that having a newly diagnosed child brings.

The DDS system is broken down into "regional centers".

Each regional center seemed to be impacted differently in the huge CRUNCH that hit them in about 2002.

Autism Diva was abused by that system to the point where she could have easily sued the State, because the regional center broke laws in working hard no to admit her adult daughter....
jump forward in time.... a nearby regional center fairly quickly and quite fairly admitted Autism Diva's 11 year son into the program as "autistic disorder", even though most people would say he seem more like "Asperger's".

Which gets into how pscyh docs ALL the time give the wrong diagnosis for a good reason (so the person will get services or certain meds) and also gets into the mostly false distinction between Asperger's and "high functioning" autism.

Bottom line, you can't trust the regional center numbers at all.

also, they were charged by law to GO OUT and find all the retarded etc, developmentally disabled people in the state, but they ended up using trickery to turn them away (during the budget crunch, which was exacerbated by some criminal activity going on on the part of at least one of the regional centers... the one Autism Diva applied to for her child)

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