Staggering Numbers

I belong to a circle of friends.
A sort of strange, motley crew of friends.
But a group of friends, nonetheless.
There are six of us.
And what originally brought us together were our kids.
Despite the fact that we "hooked up" for playgroups on a regular basis and that disbanded,
we still remain friends.
Some of us see each other more than others, but in our hearts we're still tightly woven.
Of course, as has always been my deal, I'm the youngest in the group.
In fact, my parents are just a few years older than a couple of my friends.
But hey, that's just how I roll.

We all met the year our kids were in preschool together.
We started a playgroup the following summer to get each other through the summer.
And found that there were just too many kids and our nerves couldn't take it.

Since the time when we all first met and ended our "playgroup", we have had several diagnosis.
Here's the breakdown.

*D (7) had been diagnosed with PDD and was in a special needs preschool. D has now been diagnosed with Asperger's.

*Connor (4) has been diagnosed with sensory processing issues (which fall on the Autism spectrum) and ADHD.

*W (3) has been seen for services for speech and will most likely be diagnosed - for he is similar to D and Connor.

*Kristen (almost 2) has not been formally diagnosed, but she is severely MR. She is most likely blind, cannot support any part of her body, cannot speak, and the list goes on.

*O ( 3 1/2) just diagnosed last week with PDD and PICA.

Let me backtrack by saying all of us in our group hail from different parts of the country. We're of different ages, similar family backgrounds, though. Each of the kids have been born in different parts of the country except for Connor & O. They were both born here in Delaware.

We all met at a mainstream/typical preschool.
When reading this, doesn't something just stink?
Isn't it, almost, unbelievable that out of a group of 14 kids and 6 moms...
Five of them, five
have a diagnosis?

I don't have the answers to as whether it is because of pollution in our state.
Whether it is, infact, immunizations,
or whether it is hormones in our food.

But something, in my mind, just is not right.

28 ripples in the pond:

Her Grace said...

Wow. WOW. Those numbers really are staggering.

I worked in a special education preschool for 10 years before I became a SAHM, and we definitely saw a rise in these types of disorders over the years (though kids were often not "officially" diagnosed with autism while in my classroom, because they were so young.)

I'm not convinced of the immunization connection, but I do believe something is going on besides the fact that diagnosis is just getting better. It's sad and it's scary and something really needs to be done.

Tabba said...

her grace: yeah, I just don't know how I feel about the whole immunization thing. but something is amiss.
I don't think it's all a part of over-diagnosis.
Because if you watched our kids for about an hour, you'd see they definetely fall into the "categories" they've been place in.

I worked in the "typical" preschool (where our kids met) for ten years...and I can say that each year, you could see a marked increase in speech delays, ADD/ADHD, sensory, autism spectrum, etc.....

It is truly scary. And I just don't think we (society) are paying close enough attention to this.

Joker The Lurcher said...

i have read everything there is to read about the immunisation thing and i cannot see it is connected. there are quite a few parents of autistic kids that i know who did not have the jabs because of the fears about them yet their kids are still autistic.

its only scary that autsitm is on the increase because of the lack of services, not because our kids are wrong. if there were suddenly more kids being born who couldn't walk you can bet there would be wide doors and ramps popping up everywhere. its because autism is much more amorphous and invisible. it is easier to force an autistic kid into a mainstream school, in spite of all the trauma to them and their family. my sister says that autism is the next stage of human development which is an interesting way of looking at it.

i know that even in the worst times, when the school seemed determined to try and 'cure ' my son, and in the process was destroying all of us, i would never have wanted him to change and be 'normal'. he is one magic kid.

Tabba said...

I'm with you on all points Joker.

It is true....there is just not a lot out there....and in someone like Connor's case (who is not diagnosed Autistic or Asperger's (yet), it is a tad invisible. People think you're out of your mind....

Aside from that, there aren't many "experts" on Autism here - especially in my area of the country. Northern New Jersey is the place to be if your child is autistic....

I, in no way, meant to sound as if something was "wrong" with the kids....I did not mean to sound that way if I did. I meant to say that something is wrong in regards to the amount of kids with it....whether it is environmental, etc.
And that there certainly needs to be more awareness, more research, more services for these kids.
Who are, indeed, magical.

Tabba said...


Oh, and it's funny you mentioned someone saying that Autism is the next step in human development...

My, then, 15 year old brother has said the same thing. That it is human evolution at work.
Interesting....especially coming from my little brother ;)

Her Grace said...

Joker --

You make a very good point about lack of services. Where I worked, we had an excellent center-based program, but kids who didn't qualify were put in classrooms with kids with learning disabilities. It was rarely a good fit.

Joker The Lurcher said...

tabba - i didn't mean to sound prickly - you know how it is! i wonder if the numbers are to do with more kids surviving births that would not have happened in the past? both my son and i would have died in days gone by and many people with autistic kids say they had traumatic births. maybe the kids don't pick up the cues for 'get out of here!' my stepmum, who is a doctor, says that the baby needs to be a participant in the birth process...

carrie said...

That certainly gives you pause, doesn't it?

On another note, happy belated anniversary to you and Rav. I hope you had a wonderful weekend playing "camp counselors"! :)


Seattle Mamacita said...

one of my best friends son's was just diagnosed with Asperberger's and sensory processing and he is 4. She just finished reading the book Real Boy a mother who wrote a book in a similar situation and thought it was a worthwhile read for families trying to understand this diagnosis...i feel like i am learning so much from her.

KC said...

The scientist in me wonders if this is a sampling error, such a high number within your group solely by chance.

I wonder if pushing the limits of viability/prematurity has something to do with it. We save neonates who never would have survived a few years ago- maybe tied to that?

I don't know, it's scary if there is a true increase in incidence unrelated to better diagnoses and sensitivity to these issues.

Tabba said...

Joker - not prickly at all....I just didn't want my words to sound like I meant something else.
And that's an excellent point.

Carrie - it really is a head-scratcher.
And thank you ;)

seatlle mamacita - there is so muc to be learned. i don't think if i read everything there was it would be enough.

KC - it could be a total fluke. None of these children were premature. They were all full-term, healthy births. And from the evidence I've seen over the course of years working with young children, I have seen numbers soar (even though I am no expert in those fields, I've seen it more and more within the past ten years that I've been exposed to it).

Christine said...

Ok this is SO weird. This could definitly be a symptom of some environmental factor, or as KC pointed out, a sampling error.

In the end (to sounds totally corny here, but that is my current mood)it is lucky that you guys have each other to lean on.

Tabba said...

Let me leave you with this statistic from www.autism-society.org:

1 in 150 births(1)
1 to 1.5 million Americans(2)
Fastest-growing developmental disability
10 - 17 % annual growth
Growth comparison during the 1990s(3):
U.S. population increase: 13%
Disabilities increase: 16%
Autism increase: 172%
$90 billion annual cost(4)
90% of costs are in adult services(4)
Cost of lifelong care can be reduced by 2/3 with early diagnosis and intervention(4)
In 10 years, the annual cost will be $200-400 billion(5)

This was gathered from the CDC for 2007.

jen said...

wow is right. i read a staggering article the other day about the contamination of plastics in our environments and how it makes people sick.

i am not saying that relates to this, but am wondering in general how much illness our consumption has caused.

Slackermommy said...

I wonder about these things also. I don't believe in the whole immunization thing because the Thermisol that was thought to be the cause is no longer in vaccines and they haven't been for some time. I do worry about the environments role though. There are 3 children in my neighborhood (my daughter included) that have a Tourette's diagnosis. Is it coincidence, the environment, or just that our society is more educated and open to diagnosing things that were looked over in the past? It seems more women have miscarriages now than ever but statistically that is not true. We just talk about it more now where women used to suffer silently. It just wasn't talked about. Good post. Makes you think.

Tabba said...

Jen it's interesting you mention that. My dad called me the other day to say he heard an interesting piece on NPR about autism and possible causes. Plastics and mercury being named in the research.....

I've not really done too much reading in regards to those (plastic and mercury), but it's something to consider.

Tabba said...

Kristie: Wow - 3 kids in the neighborhood with Tourette's.
Yeah, again, I'm not sure what I think about the whole immunization thing.
I do think something is causing this number to rise the way it is. It is increasing in staggering numbers.

flutter said...

This just makes me sad.

Maya's Granny said...

As I was reading this I was staggered indeed. I have been working with kids since the late 60s, and I have seen an incredible increase in diagnosed children. I'm not at all certain what it is, and suppose it could be a comgination of factors, but it is very frightening.

Tabba said...

Flutter - I know. I know. It is so sad. So sad to see these really cool kids, have such a hard time with friends. Sad to see families flounder with how to deal. It needs to get better. For everyone.

Maya's Granny - It truly is frightening. And when you look at how much it has increased vs. our population, it is almost mind-blowing.

liv said...

Something isn't right. My D has PDD-NOS with some SID components. I made my own organic baby food, eat organics, etc... and sometimes the only things I can think are:


lead in old paint in our house

There's also a theory that goes into great detail about the possibility that we are watching a pivotal point in human evolution where the methods of communication are changing. Children with ASDs tend to be geared toward more "modern" methods of learning and regimentation of the electronic age. The theory alleges that we resist this because our brain makeup is part of an older paradigm.

I'm not sure what it all means, but I know that my child is substantially more intelligent than many others. It's the getting it out, and learning how to integrate into child society that is the hard part for us.

liv said...

fyi, re: the comment about Thimerosal being eliminated in vaccines, the FDA's website reports the following informatio which is counter to the above:
"Over the past several years, because of an increasing awareness of the theoretical potential for neurotoxicity of even low levels of organomercurials and because of the increased number of thimerosal containing vaccines that had been added to the infant immunization schedule, concerns about the use of thimerosal in vaccines and other products have been raised. Indeed, because of these concerns, the Food and Drug Administration has worked with, and continues to work with, vaccine manufacturers to reduce or eliminate thimerosal from vaccines.

Thimerosal has been removed from or reduced to trace amounts in all vaccines routinely recommended for children 6 years of age and younger, with the exception of inactivated influenza vaccine (see Table 1). A preservative-free version of the inactivated influenza vaccine (contains trace amounts of thimerosal) is available in limited supply at this time for use in infants, children and pregnant women. Some vaccines such as Td, which is indicated for older children (≥ 7 years of age) and adults, are also now available in formulations that are free of thimerosal or contain only trace amounts. Vaccines with trace amounts of thimerosal contain 1 microgram or less of mercury per dose."

Tabba said...

Liv - good information there. and that was one thing that we discussed - the group of us friends....how we were all so careful, watching what we eat, etc.

the only thing that leads me in the direction of the vaccines for a milisecond is that Connor was vaccinated on time with every vaccine. Gracie was not. In fact, she's still behind. Connor had flu shots. Gracie did not.
I don't think I can base that argument solely on that alone. But it has made me think about it. As a possibility.

Rav & I had the same discussion in regards to Connor's intelligence. And that I do believe that children are changing.
I have even toyed around in my mind with the idea of a school for these kids. These kids who are just wired a little differently. Who are so intelligent. Who are so complex, yet so simple to understand.

Maggie said...

A group of my friends, including myself, where all pregnant at the same time. Just by a coincidence but never the less very exciting. I had a miscarriage three months in, My good friend had a still born at term, and only two went on to have live happy births. I found those number just very unreal. The similarities between us outnumbered any difference. Life is just so weird.

Tabba said...

Maggie: I'm so glad you left a comment. I lost your blog URL when I switched over to the new template!!!

Oh, that is something, isn't it? And life is weird sometimes. On one hand, while this is "coincidence" is strange, I can't help but feel we were brought together for a reason.....

But that's me. I sometimes look for that divine hand in things.

thailandchani said...

It's probably a combination of cultural changes.

ADHD is especially one of those. Kids are not allowed to be kids so much anymore without being called "hyperactive".

Uh... Doh! Kids are supposed to be hyperactive. It's part of the kid contract.

Now it's trending toward Asperger's and Autism.

I'm not sure about vaccinations as a preemptive thing. Small pox, chicken pox, polio.. yeah.. that's the stuff we got when I was a kid.

Now they try to vaccinate for every conceivable contingency.



Tabba said...

Chani - for what it's worth. I have worked with numerous, numerous children. I have seen typical kids and special needs kids. I have seen typical kids be typical kids.
When I see a kid like Connor (and other children), stick out like a sore thumb because of certain behaviors, impulsivity, eye contact issues, managing their attention, bouncing off the walls like a pinball, etc....I know that ADHD/ADD is real.
For when we get together with our playmates/cousins - even when he plays with his own sister, it is a marked difference. It is something that is blatantly obvious.

Now I'm not saying that there aren't instances of over-diagnosis. Yes, I'm sure it happens.

But believe me...it's beyond a kid being a kid.

Magpie said...

That is staggering. And sad. Wow.