What has caused the growing prevalence in autism?


I know it is not in our custom to write from a place of pain for a local newspaper. Everyone is going through various difficult stages in their lives—I do not want to come across as asking for pity—I am not at all. But the topic of the Pacific Autism Family Centre Foundation was in Wednesday’s Richmond Review (“Plans for autism centre on Sea Island move ahead”) and I felt I need to write.

My 11-year-old son with severe autism has struggled and been embraced by so many care-givers, behavioural consultants, therapists, tutors, interventionists, social workers and even therapeutic horseback. Everyone has been extremely loving and wish the best for him—at their price.

My son is in the middle of his “public” time with autism. I know when he hits 18 it will be another world for him. I am extremely grateful for the people that have come through his life to help. But he still suffers from severe autism.

I need to be very clear on the appreciation I have from others’ kindness. But I also need to be clear about one other thing—he was not born this way. Something changed—yes he may have been susceptible to autism. Like a child who may have an allergic reaction to peanuts may be fine until they eat a peanut. What my concern is what caused this. What caused this absolutely incredible rise in something my 105-year-old grandmother had never heard of.

Better diagnosing—PLEASE. Something else is going on! I go through my daily life with love and affection for everyone in my family and friends around me. But deep in my heart there is a pain. I worry that we live in a world that has an increase in something that is so life debilitating and we are not questioning why. His sister will be responsible for his care when I am gone.

I live in Richmond and can only hope that my son has the privilege to be a part of this new centre at an affordable cost. I had always dreamed there was a place I could have taken him when he was younger.

But what I would really wish for as his mother is a cure. And why this happened to him.

There are many children who recover from autism—many. And then there are many cases which can turn for the worst. I read about them every day. Deep down my heart knows there is more going on than the public is aware. Please do not forget autism was one in 10,000 in the 1980s. How can it be one in 40 boys today—what has changed? Genetics alone?

I am going to the largest North American autism conference this month in Chicago called AutismOne. It would be lovely if there was a representative for this centre at this conference also.

Kathryn Donabedian


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