How many autistic amish?

3 Jun

Yesterday, Joseph wrote a great post that looked at the prevalence of low functioning autism amongst the Amish and found it correlated strongly with non Amish sources.

Today, I want to look at the Amish through the lens of the ‘new’ prevalence that The Autism Omnibus Petitioners expert witness (for the families) Professor Sander Greenland testified to.

Now, as we all know, when Dan Olmsted first started writing about the Amish he claimed that both Amish children are never vaccinated and that the Amish either don’t have autism, or it is very rare.

It has been established since than that Omsted’s ‘reporting’ (which constituted asking a water cooler salesman) somehow missed the fact that the Amish actually do vaccinate in pretty high numbers.

Since that time, as the autism/vaccine hypothesis has become weaker and weaker we have seen a ‘silent switch’ amongst its proponents. Gone is the talk about ‘epidemic’ and hundred of thousands of children ‘poisoned’ to be replaced with talk such as:

My message is this: “We need more research to determine if a small subset of kids is genetically susceptible to lifelong neurological injury from something, or things, in our current vaccine program.

This has been echoed by Dan Olmsted. When Autism News Beat stepped into woo-land and visited Autism One, Dan Olmsted was quoted on camera as saying (this is a hurried transcription, apologies for slight errors):

…you try to listen for anything that’s useful in terms of information. Sometimes they tell you things that they don’t mean to in terms of how..uh..you know we learned things about the Amish from a blogger who tried to destroy my reporting about that because he basically talked to somebody who confirmed that there were very few cases of classic, regressive autism. So…it’s, you know…that’s the way it is…

So, we can see that the ‘silent shift’ is underway. Nobody acknowledges it but the media people amongst the autism/vaccine believers have switched their stance. Now we’re only looking for a small subset of regressive cases.

This was born out by the families expert witness Professor Greenland. He was asked to tackle the epidemiology for autism and stated that the number of kids made autistic by vaccines (assuming it had happened at all) was so small it could not be detected by epidemiology. He contended that it was in fact a subset of a subset he called ‘clearly regressive autism’.

Using his data, we could see that ‘clearly regressive autism’ accounts for 0.015% of a given population. According to Elizabethtown College the Amish population of the US is about 220,000.

So, in real terms we are looking for (0.015% of 220,000) 33 ‘clearly regressive autistic’ people.

According to Mark Blaxill, Olmsted has already found:

….less than 20 cases

Which is good news. It means he must already be over halfway in finding all the ‘clearly regressive autistic’ people he needs to in order to establish the Amish have the same rate of ‘clearly regressive autism’ as the rest of us.

The Amish Anomaly is an anomaly in one respect only – it is anomalous to keep silently shifting the numbers you want to find. Now that David Kirby, Dan Olmsted and the Autism Omnibus families are all on record as only looking for a ‘small subset’ isn’t it time that the Amish Anomaly was seen for what it is – anomalous.

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5 Responses to “How many autistic amish?”

  1. Joseph June 3, 2008 at 15:07 #

    So, in real terms we are looking for (0.015% of 220,000) 33 ‘clearly regressive autistic’ people.

    That would be all ages, including children too young to be diagnosed, plus adolescents and adults, which I don’t believe Olmsted was looking for. How do you find a clearly regressive adult anyway?

    Additionally, I believe Olmsted has focused on Lancaster County. It is highly unlikely his searches outside Lancaster County have been very thorough. For that matter, I’m not sure his searches in Lancaster County have been very thorough.

    Another quibble is that it’s unlikely Olmsted has the means to tell clearly regressive from non-clearly regressive.

    BTW, here’s some information I found about the Old Order Amish of Ohio.

    The Amish are 12 percent of the local population, but their children represent close to half of the area’s most severe cases of mental and physical retardation.

    (source)

  2. Kev June 3, 2008 at 16:39 #

    Hi Jospeph,

    I should’ve been clearer – the 0.015% figure applies to children (ages 0 to 21).

    If Olmsted wanted to breakdown by state hw could use this source. I’m not sure what State Lancaster County is in though.

  3. Kev June 3, 2008 at 16:41 #

    Pensylvania. OK.

    So 0.015% of 48600 is approx 7 ‘clearly regressive’ kids.

  4. Joseph June 3, 2008 at 17:01 #

    I see. The 0.015% is a percentage of the whole population, but it’s calculated based on the number of children who are thought to be clearly regressive in the US.

    The Amish population was 198,000 in 2000 [Wikipedia]. The Amish population of Pennsylvania is 39,000, but 25,200 in Lancaster specifically.

  5. Patrick June 3, 2008 at 17:54 #

    I find the …tried to destroy my reporting… line amusing. A blatant statement previously that the Amish had no autism, that is reporting? I think not, that is more like gossip and rumor passing.

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