Boston Globe’s Baskin Misses Essential Questions About Autism and The Future for Households
By Anne Dachel
In 2007 I wrote a piece calledAutism: An epidemic of relatively recent origin
It was all about the explosion of autism from a relatively rare condition to one in 150 (2007).
One of my sources for this story was a 2007 piece from the Boston Globe, with Rise in Autism, Programs Tense.
Globe reporter Carey Goldberg wrote of parents who had to wait nine months to be diagnosed with autism and up to five years to send their child to special school.
Goldberg wrote, “Nationwide, the number of schoolchildren diagnosed with autism has nearly doubled in the past five years from 4,080 to 7,521, according to data from the Department of Education that is soon to be released.”
The autism phenomenon clearly put tremendous pressure on the education system and services.
When she wrote the story in 2007, Goldberg didn’t explain why those numbers jumped off the page. This seemed strange, as logically anyone reading their autism statistics would want to know why this was happening.
Fourteen years ago, whenever I saw stories like this, I would politely write to reporters and ask these logical questions. I’m sure I wrote to Goldberg and she most likely didn’t respond as reporters covering autism rarely show real interest.
Now a recent Boston Gobe story about autism catches my attention.
On July 16, 2021, Kara Baskin wrote the Globe piece, What Happens To Autistic Children When They Grow Up?
In the story, she interviewed autism parents Cammie McGovern about her upcoming book, Hard Landings: Looking into the Future for a Child with Autism.
McGovern is the mother of a 25 year old son with autism and intellectual disabilities.
The interview looked at a number of topics familiar to parents whose autistic children are leaving school and no services are available to them.
“But more than half of children with autism remain unemployed or out of school in the two years after high school. About half of young adults with autism have never had a paid job. Many of these young adults also age from school autism services and also have difficulty finding medical care. “
The part of the story that really caught my attention was Baskin’s reference to the rate:
“In the United States, 1 in 54 children have an autism spectrum disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 31 percent of these children also have an intellectual disability. “
If Baskin had checked the Boston Globe archives, she would have seen the 2007 Goldberg story of the grave lack of support for school-age autistic children. Schools failure to accept victims of the autism epidemic fourteen years ago is now playing out in or lack of adult services.
The only difference is that adults with autism will not age out of the system in 20 years. They need support for the rest of their long life, which can be 40, 50, 60 years after leaving school.
If Baskin had done the research, she might have wondered why the autism rate was one in 150 in 2007 and one in 54 children now fourteen years later. She may have speculated what the rate will be in another fourteen years and what effect this will have on schools and adult services.
Baskin may have checked other more staggering autism numbers, like one in 36 children in South Korea (back in 2011), one in 27 in Hong Kong, and one in 22 in Northern Ireland.
She might have looked at the official New Jersey numbers, believed to be the most accurate reporting, one in 34 children. She should have been alerted about every 14th in Brick Township, NJ, including one in eight boys there.
Kara Baskin’s coverage in 2021 is no different from Carey Goldberg’s coverage in 2007 and is quite indicative of the press in general.
The truth is that media representatives have absolutely no interest in what happens to our children. That’s why I’m no longer interested in writing to you. They are happy to move on to their next topic.
Reporters like Baskin and Goldberg are a big reason officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been able to cover up the truth about the rise in autism over the past two decades.
As a teacher, I can tell you that due to the number and lack of services, any third grader would realistically ask one of the following questions:
Why are there more children with autism?
Why can’t young adults with autism go where adults with autism have always gone?
What did you do with autistic adults 10, 20 and 50 years ago?
If there haven’t been many autistic adults in the past, why have they?
Any of these questions would be a great subject line for a news source like this Boston Globe. Unfortunately we will never see that.
Anne Dachel is the media editor for Age of Autism.