In 1931…

27 Sep

In 1931 Eli Lilly invented autism.  Or so the story goes.  Again, as the story goes, all autism is mercury poisoning or, more specifically, Thimerosal poisoning.  Thus, Autism didn’t  (and couldn’t) exist before the invention of Thimerosal in 1931.

Dan Olmsted has made a number of bloggish press releases on the “original” autism cases. You know, those kids that Dr. Kanner first reported on. According to that story, somehow all of the first cases (since there weren’t any before then) somehow found their way into Dr. Kanner’s practice.

Wouldn’t it be strange if there were autistic individuals born before 1931? Wouldn’t you expect Mr. Kirby or Mr. Olmsted to let us know if there were evidence of autism that didn’t fit this little model?

In a recent blog post, David Kirby noted that:

“But it turns out that a private citizen has paid the state each quarter to analyze the autism numbers according to year of birth, and not just by age group. State law requires that such privately funded analyses be made available to anyone else who asks for it

So I asked for it. What I got was rather interesting.”

Well, someone else asked for these data sets. Now I have them too.  Joseph has them as well.   And they are rather interesting.

The spreadsheets list the number of clients getting CDDS services by year of birth.  Open the most recent one and there, at the very top, are three of clients born before 1931.  Top of the list, someone born in 1920.   If you look through the past years, you will find as many as five in a single year.  There is evidence for more as some people come and go.

I can already write one of the responses to this post. “Thank you for pointing out that the number is so much less than 1:150 for the older generations”.

While you hope that we all go running after that particular red herring, reread the statement above: “ people come and go from the system”.  Consider our now 87 year old client mentioned above.  He/she entered the system as autistic in late 1999.

Yessir, at 79 years old this person was added to the CDDS autism roll.   There are a lot of possible reasons.  He/She could have moved into the state, his/her family could have found that they no longer could handle the job alone or, and this is the big question, he/she was already in the system but was only identified as autistic at this late age.

That’s not the only example.  In 1992, a 70 year old was added to the list under autistism.  In 1992 a 64 year old was added, followed by another in early 1993. 

There are more, but you get the point.  These people, people born before the invention of Thimerosal are autistic and are being added to the CDDS lists as autistic late in life.

I do wonder why Mr. Kirby didn’t mention this.  I do wonder why he didn’t shoot a quick email to Mr. Olmsted to point this out.  One has to think that Dan Olmsted would be interested in getting the stories of the pre-Thimerosal, pre-Kanner autistics.  Then again, one has to imagine that Dan Olmsted probably has seen these data for himself already.  Why neither of them has seen fit to mention this or dig deeper into this is an open question.

For once I agree with David Kirby, “What I got was rather interesting”.

9 Responses to “In 1931…”

  1. Phil September 27, 2007 at 09:55 #

    There’s the proof! Thanks for that, Kev! I knew there had to be evidence somewhere of ASD people born before 1931!

    Oh – and off topic, I’m about to throw three updates onto my blog (I think you still have the addy) including a blast at Jenny McCarthy after reading the transcript of her appearance on Larry King.

  2. Joseph September 27, 2007 at 14:00 #

    You had it in a graph, right? The interesting thing there is that there’s no spike around 1931, as one might expect if a new form of autism was invented right then.

  3. Sullivan September 27, 2007 at 14:50 #

    You are right Joseph–I’ll put that graph up later.

    In a later post I’ll put up some other graphs which speak to the “epidemic”.

  4. Isles September 27, 2007 at 16:05 #

    I personally know someone who was just diagnosed at over 50 years old.

  5. Another Autism Mom September 27, 2007 at 16:12 #

    The other day there was an exchange in my local autism parents discussion group that was rather hilarious. One of the biomed moms said that her 87-year-old father was for sure autistic (describing his dead-on autistic behaviors), and then another parent replied saying “but are you sure? The oldest autistic person cannot be more than 76 years old!!!” Because I don’t want to indispose myself with the whole community, I had to refrain from telling that guy how stupid he was by assuming that any disorder only begins to exist once a scientist puts a name on it.

  6. andrea September 27, 2007 at 21:44 #

    As a historian and someone who works with children with autism, I have to agree. Before the 1930’s many families had a child that was simply called “not quite right”. This catch-all phrase was as specific a “diagnosis” as you might get and covered everything from mental retardation, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, mental illness and anyone who would fall on the Autism spectrum today. Hundreds of years ago the name applied to their condition would have been “demonic possession”, “town idiot” or “cursed”. The Asberger’s label didn’t exist 20 years ago…..does that mean there were no children with Asberger’s? Of course not. We just didn’t call them that; they were “socially backward”, or “immature” or some other equally inadequate/erroneous label. I can’t help wondering if, as we discover more about this disorder, we will further refine our definition of it. It is sometimes hard to believe that two children, each on opposite ends of the spectrum, even HAVE the same disorder: one reads, writes, converses, plays games, laughs (but not at my puns!) and another has no language, stims, wails, rocks. If we had never invented the word “autism” would these children be labeled with the same disorder?

  7. Patrick September 27, 2007 at 23:21 #

    Well they’re not, one is Asperger’s, and one is Autistic. I hate to be nit picking but you seem to be confusing the Spectrum with the disorders, though they may truly Be from the same etiology. There are variations on Schizophrenia aren’t there? All the way from simple to paranoid to delusional and combinations thereof.

  8. HN September 28, 2007 at 01:20 #

    By the way the Lois Lowry book _The Silent Boy_ never says anything about autism, but you can pretty much guess that might be what the title character represents.

  9. Sullivan September 28, 2007 at 04:39 #

    It seems like most people think it isn’t a big deal. Then again, most people aren’t the one’s claiming that autism is mercury poisoning and that somehow it has to be thimerosal.

    Somehow, I don’t think that Dan Olmsted will be convinced. There is a chance he hasn’t seen these data. If he has, why not mention it? We know that David Kirby has seen these data. Having seen this, why not mention it to Olmsted and/or mention it in his blog?

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