Rewriting the definition of Autism… Why? No doubt to save money
Chicago - One child doesn't talk, rocks rhythmically back and forth and stares at clothes spinning in the dryer. Another has no trouble talking but is obsessed with trains, methodically naming every station in his state.
Autistic kids like these hate change, but a big one is looming.
For the first time in nearly two decades, experts want to rewrite the definition of autism. Some parents fear that if the definition is narrowed, their children may lose out on special therapies.
For years, different autism-related labels have been used, the best known being Asperger's disorder. The doctors working on the new definition want to eliminate separate terms and lump them all into an "autism spectrum disorder" category.
Some specialists contend the proposal will exclude as many as 40 percent of kids now considered autistic. Parents of mildly affected children worry their kids will be left out and lose access to academic and behavioral services - and any chance of a normal life.
But doctors on the American Psychiatric Association panel that has proposed the changes say none of that would happen.
They maintain the revision is needed to dump confusing labels and clarify that autism can involve a range of symptoms from mild to severe. They say it will be easier to diagnose kids and ensure that those with true autism receive the same diagnosis.
With new government data last week suggesting more kids than ever in the U.S. - 1 in 88 - have autism, the new definition may help clarify whether the rising numbers reflect a true increase in autism or overdiagnosis by doctors.
There is no definitive test for autism. The diagnosis that has been used for at least 18 years covers children who once were called mentally retarded, as well as some who might have merely been considered quirky or odd. Today, some children diagnosed with autism may no longer fit the definition when they mature.
"We're wanting to use this opportunity to get this diagnosis right," said Dr. Bryan King, a member of the revision panel and director of the autism center at Seattle Children's Hospital.
Dr. James Harris, a panel member and founding director of the developmental neuropsychiatry program at Johns Hopkins University, said the proposal will provide a better label for children who really only have communication problems.
"I don't want a child labeled as autistic, which suggests a chronic, lifelong problem, when he has a social communication problem that may get better if he has proper services and his brain matures," Harris said.
Harris said these kids don't need intensive autism therapy but should be eligible for other types of special education.
Dr. Daniel Coury, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, said parents have valid concerns because insurance companies and schools may not immediately recognize that children receiving the new diagnosis may need special services.
"So there may potentially be a lag time where services would not be available," he said.
He noted it is already difficult for many families to get costly autism therapy. Some insurers don't cover it, and many financially strapped school districts have cut special education.
The revision is among dozens of changes proposed for an update of the psychiatric association's reference manual, widely used for diagnosing mental illnesses. The more than 10,000 comments the group has received for the update mostly involve the autism proposal, with concerns voiced by doctors, researchers, families and advocacy groups. A spokeswoman declined to say whether most support or oppose the autism revision.
The group's board of trustees is expected to vote on the proposals in December, and the updated manual is to be published next year.
Among the proposed changes:
• A new "autism spectrum disorder" category would be created, describing symptoms that generally appear before age 3. It would encompass children with "autistic disorder," now used for severe cases, plus those with two high-functioning variations.
A diagnosis would require three types of communication problems, including limited or no conversation and poor social skills; and at least two repetitive behaviors or unusual, limited interests, including arm-flapping, tiptoe-walking and obsession with quirky topics.
• Autistic disorder and high-functioning variations - Asperger's disorder and PDD-NOS, or "pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified" - would be eliminated, but their symptoms would be covered under the new category.
Asperger's kids often have vast knowledge about a quirky subject but poor social skills; PDD-NOS is notoriously ill-defined and sometimes given to kids considered mildly autistic.
• Another new category, "social communication disorder," would include children who relate poorly to others and have trouble reading facial expressions and body language. A small percentage of children now labeled with PDD-NOS would fit more accurately into this diagnosis, autism panel members say.
They say the changes make scientific sense and are based on recent research.
Opponents include older kids and adults with Asperger's who embrace their quirkiness and don't want to be lumped in with more severe autism, and parents like Kelly Andrus of Lewisville, Texas. Her son, Bradley, was diagnosed with mild autism a year ago, at age 2.
"I'm really afraid we'd be pushed out of the services we get," she said. That includes a free preschool program for autistic kids and speech and occupational therapy, which cost her $50 a week. The family has no medical insurance.
Opponents also include a well-known Yale University autism researcher, Dr. Fred Volkmar, who was on the revision panel but says he was unhappy with the process and quit. "I want to be sure we're not going to leave some kids out in the cold," he said.
Volkmar is senior author of a study suggesting that the revision would exclude nearly 40 percent of children with true autism. But members of the revision panel have challenged Volkmar's methods, saying he relied on outdated data from two decades ago.
One major advocacy group in the field, Autism Speaks, said it is awaiting further research on the effects of the revisions before deciding whether to endorse them.
Someone did perform safety studies the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should have mandated be performed and vetted BEFORE numerous vaccines were released into the public sector for mass vaccinations.
Lead investigator Laura Hewitson, PhD, probably dropped a bombshell when she and her colleagues completed a macaque monkey (primates) study of the very same vaccines given to children during 1994-1999, i.e., the Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine and several Thimerosal mercury-containing vaccines injected into children during that time frame when the autism spectrum disorder skyrocketed.
The results of that pilot study were published as a Research Paper in Acta Neurobiological Experimentals in 2010 and titled “Influence of pediatric vaccines on amydgala growth and opioid ligand binding in rhesus macaque infants: A pilot study.”  Even though there was alleged controversy revolving around Hewitson’s monkey studies, e.g., charges of conflicts of interest since she filed a claim with the vaccine court on behalf of her child,  the information generated needs to be revisited and duplicate studies need to be undertaken. Why haven’t they? Is there too much influence from vaccine makers not to do them? Parents need to make demands on the U.S. Congress to require such safety studies on monkeys be duplicated immediately, plus suspend all mandates on vaccinations until the study results are in. Did Dr Hewitson become another professional persona non-grata because she may have been on the right track?
Congress needs to consider seriously the Hewitson, et al. report that stated:
“Vaccine-exposed and saline-injected control infants [monkeys] underwent MRI and PET imaging at approximately 4 and 6 months of age, representing two specific timeframes within the vaccination schedule. …
“These results suggest that maturational changes in amygdala volume and the binding capacity of [11C]DPN in the amygdala was significantly altered in infant macaques receiving the vaccine schedule.” 
That alone should be the explicit reason for duplicating the monkey study with independent non-pharmaceutical industry conflict of interest scientists.
In this author’s opinion, no one has bigger conflicts of interest in study outcomes than the pharmaceutical makers who routinely perform them. Those are the very studies that should be subject to the same criticism as Dr Hewitson’s. Why aren’t they? Good question?
For those keeping track data, ASD went from 1 in 5,000 in the 1990s to the recently acknowledged [March 2012] figures of 1 in 88 along with 1 in 6 children in the USA having developmental disabilities. These stats were generated for data in the years 2006 to 2008.  There’s a 4 to 6 year lag time. Could ASD be 1 in 50 by now at the rate it is escalating?, especially since there’s a heavier push on mandates for vaccinations.
According to the Hewitson, et al. research study, biological changes and altered behaviors did occur in vaccinated monkeys, which resembled and were similar to those observed in ASD diagnosed children. However, there were no such symptoms showing or present in unvaccinated monkeys. Don’t you just gotta love those little monkeys! Guess what else the ASD monkeys came up with, and Dr Wakefield is gonna like this one: Gastrointestinal problems manifested in vaccinated macaques such as “many significant differences in the GI tissue gene expression profiles between vaccinated and unvaccinated animals.”  It’s been a deeply debated topic within medicine that vaccinated children who contract ASD also have GI tract issues. Personally, I gotta wonder how the British Medical Journal is going to deal with encrusted dried egg on its face when duplicate studies confirm the Hewitson monkey results. Perhaps the infamous BMJ retraction of the Wakefield article and Doctor’s professional evisceration, commonly referred to as the “Wakefield Syndrome,” euphemistically speaking is medicine protecting its vested interests.
Those little monkeys, however, came up with some other significant information that led former National Institutes of Health director Dr Bernadine Healy to voice some bon mots like:
“I think public health officials have been too quick to dismiss the hypothesis as ‘irrational,’ without sufficient studies of causation…without studying the population that got sick.”
“I have not seen major studies that focus on 300 kids who got autistic symptoms within a period of a few weeks of the vaccines.” 
Perhaps the most on-point quote regarding the monkey study came from Scott Bono, the National Autism Association chairman, i.e., something those who are accused of being against vaccinations have been questioning and demanding:
“To date, the CDC has conducted no safety testing on the possible harmful effects of simultaneously administering multiple vaccines to infants, and has steadfastly refused to state a preference for mercury-free vaccines to be given to children and pregnant women. It’s time for HHS and Congress to step in and take vaccine safety away from the CDC.” 
This author’s retort to Mr. Bono’s remark is that vaccine safety should be taken away from the Food and Drug Administration too! I’d like to remind readers that Congress is more at fault than anyone in this vaccine debacle. Congress has oversight and it has dropped the ball big time, probably due to all the lobbyists from Big Pharma who prowl the halls of Congress with deep pockets and nice expensive luncheon dates.
One of the issues I feel Congress has been remiss about is that it has not demanded safety studies and interaction of multiple vaccines studies BEFORE being placed into the marketplace. According to common and accepted knowledge, no such safety research or studies have been done on the current childhood vaccination regimen, except until the Hewitson ‘monkey business’ that was funded by independent, private money, for which everyone, I think, should be eternally grateful. However, the study had to be shot down since it was not favorable to vaccine makers. Why isn’t someone else duplicating the monkey studies? Are they afraid of becoming another victim of science? Why, when isn’t that what medical science should be all about: investigating problems and theories, publishing results, and interacting with other sciences, NOT excommunication as if they were breaking some religious dogma. Or, do they, in some vested interests minds?
Current Vaccine Safety Activism in Congress
Now here is something every VacTruth reader should consider seriously: Supporting Congressman Dan Burton’s (R-5-IN) request to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa to hold hearings on the Vaccination Injury Compensation Program. Back on January 12, 2011, this writer filed a Whistleblower’s Complaint on Vaccines with Chairman Issa and has yet to receive an acknowledgement of that filing.
Isn’t about time to revisit, update, and do more extensive research into the Autism Spectrum Disorder pandemic that is spreading globally?
April 24, 2012 Congressman Burton posted a letter to The Hill’s Congress Blog titled, “It is time to re-engage on the autism epidemic.” He also wants to pass legislation to force the President to address the ASD epidemic and its impact on Americans. Burton is committed to helping millions of children, adults, and families afflicted with ASD. We need to support Congressman Burton ASAP and here’s how:
- Contact the Canary Party to support their Facebook pages to hold Congressional hearings and a White House Conference on Autism. Contact News@CanaryParty.org.
- Contact Congressman Darrell Issa at the Oversight and Government Reform Committee at 2157 Rayburn House Office Bldg., Washington, DC 20515 or preferably telephone your request for Autism Investigation Hearings to 202-225-5074.
For those who want to know about this information, the National Autism Association (www.nationalautism.org) will be holding a rally for toxin-free immunizations in Washington, DC on June 4, 2012, titled “Green Our Vaccines,” which this author thinks is an oxymoron. How can you green vaccines when every ingredient is toxic? Just check out the CDC’s PinkBook Vaccine Excipient & Media Summary at http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/downloads/appendices/b/excipient-table-2.pdf.
Before I leave this article, I would like VacTruth readers to know that my colleague who also writes for VacTruth, Laraine C Abbey, RN (retired) and I co-edited a 150 page monograph in January 2011 titled Vaccines & Vaccinations: The Need for Congressional Investigation, which you can read in full on VacTruth at http://vactruth.com/vaccines-vaccinations-the-need-for-congressional-investigation/.
Apparently others have read it and agree.
Congressman Burton, Nurse Abbey and I congratulate you on taking the stand you have, and we offer you our resources in obtaining a Congressional investigation.
President Obama, Nurse Abbey and I respectfully request a White House conference on Autism, and we offer you our resources to effectuate a non-biased conference.
VacTruth readers, I charge you with spreading this information and article as far and wide as you possibly can so that we can get an investigation that ought to be open, not biased, and the scientific facts—nothing but the facts, like those the monkeys finally had to prove. It was not monkey business; it’s the real deal.
WXYZ.com ^ | April 25, 2012 | staff reporter
(WXYZ) - Stuart Chaifetz’s son, Akian is a 10-year-old boy who suffers from autism. On his website , Chaifetz says his son has always been sweet and non-violent, so when he received notes from the school saying Akian was having violent outbursts and even hitting his teacher and aide, he was completely shocked. Chaifetz says a behaviorist was called into the classroom a number of times, but the behaviorist had never witnessed any violent events. In February, Chaifetz decided to take another route to figure out what was going on. He wired his son, sent him to school. The audio...
American Psychiatric Association DSM-5 Development ... Study Group Members ... Because autism is defined by a common set of behaviors, it is best ...
Jan 24, 2012 ... News | PCG: Public Consulting Group PCG provides management consulting and ... An Expert Panel Proposes Changes in the Definition of Autism ... Psychiatric Association is reviewing the current definition of autism and presented ... While the NCLB Rewrite Lags in Congress, ED Propose
Mar 15, 2012 ... Big changes are proposed for the way autism is diagnosed. ... AN EFFORT is under way to update the American Psychiatric Association's ... The current DSM- IV definition of autism was based on results from a large, ... But two more groups have reported similar findings and other pape
Mar 17, 2012 ... In assembling the DSM-5's Task Force and Work Groups, the APA's Board of Trustees developed an extensive .... Should we rewrite the autism rule book? ... No, says an editorial from the Society of Biological Psychiatry ..... A proposed new definition of depression would include norma
3 days ago ... Commentary Takes Issue with Criticism of New Autism Definition ... Neurodevelopmental Disorders Work Group responded to a study that challenges the proposed DSM-5 diagnostic criteria on autism ... Christopher Lane On What's Wrong With Modern Psychiatry ..... Should we rewrite the auti
Feb 1, 2012 ... This isn't just an academic debate: By rewriting autism's definition, the American Psychiatric Association will affect services for thousands.
Items 1 - 18 ... Summary--This is the first part of a combined theory of autism and general ... or the like, and then rewriting the pages that follow so as to ... It is here proposed that some of these factors, both .... And to define a human as one having human parents poses .... organicity as a cr
h/t to AJ & MJ