A peer-reviewed study has warned of a crisis unfolding in America that scientists have described as an “autism tsunami.”
Researchers started raising the alarm of future autism cases in 2021.
They predict that the cost of treating the spiraling crisis will run into trillions of dollars per year, most of which will go to the pharmaceutical industry.
However, rising prevalence rates and lack of state services show the predicted crisis is already playing out.
The societal costs of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the U.S. are projected to reach $589 billion per year by 2030, $1.36 trillion per year by 2040, and $5.54 trillion per year by 2060 if steps are not taken to prevent the disorder, according to a study published last month.
The paper, “Autism Tsunami: The Impact of Rising Prevalence on the Societal Cost of Autism in the United States,” was first published in 2021, in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders (JADD).
It was retracted almost two years later by the publisher and editor, citing “concerns” with methodology and the authors’ “non-financial interests.”
The paper was reportedly retracted due to pressure from the “autism industry.”
Last month, the Science, Public Health Policy and the Law journal peer-reviewed and republished the study.
The study is the first to project the present and future costs of ASD and link rising costs to the increasing prevalence of the disorder.
The authors found that previous studies, which didn’t account for increasing prevalence, tended to overestimate current costs.
Past studies assumed prevalence rates among adults are the same as rates among children and underestimated future costs associated with a growing autistic population with shifting care needs.
Researchers Mark Blaxill, Cynthia Nevison, Ph.D., and Toby Rogers, Ph.D., projected future ASD costs in three scenarios:
- A base case scenario assuming the continuation of existing trends
- A low scenario providing a conservative estimate of future costs
- A prevention scenario exploring the possibility of future mitigation of environmental causes.
However, two premises of the paper made a straightforward modeling paper controversial.
These premises — that prevalence is increasing and that environmental intervention is possible — were the basis of the “concerns” raised that led to its retraction.
Those premises ran counter to the deeply held assumptions of the autism research and treatment industry.
The industry continues to sidestep the issue of increasing prevalence and holds that autism is primarily a genetic and not an environmental disease.
To build their model, the researchers estimated four key parameters:
- The historic and future prevalence of ASD
- The future size of the ASD population
- The cost per individual throughout a lifetime
- Inflation projections
Prevalence projections were based on the California Department of Developmental Services caseload data from 1931 to 2016.
The researchers used U.S. Census Bureau population predictions to translate prevalence into actual numbers of people with autism.
They multiplied those by different cost categories partitioned by age group and severity of ASD and applied an inflation index to their projections.
Nevison explains that this approach to calculating future costs was built on previous models that similarly identified cost categories and multiplied them by autism populations in each age group.
“But we used a more sophisticated prevalence model, and that provided an advance over previous work,” she said.
Their ASD prevalence model showed that based on current trends, the U.S. could surpass 6% rates of ASD in children born in 2024.
This number rises to 7% born in 2032, and would likely continue to rise more slowly after that.
This differed from previous models, which predicted continuous exponential growth.
Costs associated with ASD included “non-medical services” like community care and day programs, individual and parent productivity losses, estimated special education costs, early and behavioral intervention, and medical costs.
Rising prevalence itself makes costs go up, the study showed, but so does the fact that the mix of costs changes over time as the autism population ages and has different care needs.
As the first generation of parents of children of the autism epidemic, who shouldered much of the burden of care-taking, begin to die around 2040, the costs of care that had been borne by them will shift onto state and federal governments, according to the study.
Dr. Blaxill, one of the study’s authors, warns that the cost increase “is radical, it will cost $5 trillion a year.”
Nevison revealed that for their “prevention” scenario they looked to an existing example with good data where ASD rates had gone down.
She and a colleague published that research in JADD in 2020.
The research shows that ASD rates, which had increased for all U.S. children across birth years 1993-2000, either plateaued or declined among white families living in wealthy counties.
The findings suggest that those families made changes that lowered their children’s risk of ASD.
“The Prevention scenario assumes that these parental strategies and opportunities already used by wealthy parents to lower their children’s risk of ASD can be identified and made available rapidly to lower-income children and ethnic minorities, who are currently experiencing the most rapid growth in ASD prevalence,” the “Autism Tsunami” authors wrote.
The paper does not indicate what those changes may have been.
However, Blaxill said they hypothesized the changes happened among families who followed alternative vaccination schedules and other lifestyle changes.
Even in the prevention scenario, the paper found that the cost of ASD will skyrocket to $3.7 ± 0.8 trillion annually by 2060.
These costs will soar because the country still needs to account for the demographic momentum of the large ASD population born over the last three decades.
The authors concluded that rising autism rates must be taken seriously as a public health and economic policy issue.
“Paradoxically, the future costs of autism loom so large that, rather than responding with a sense of urgency as one might expect, policymakers thus far have generally failed to engage with the policy implications at all,” the authors wrote.
“We hope this paper will serve as a wake-up call for the public health emergency that the societal cost of autism represents to the economic future of the U.S.”
And while autism cases have been rising across the country, the disorder is not impacting all Americans.
As Slay News has previously reported, America’s Amish communities have not suffered any rise in Autism cases.
In fact, a comprehensive study conducted last year found that no Amish children have been diagnosed with chronic conditions that impact the rest of America.
The Amish are a group of traditionalist Christians who are known for simple living, plain dress, and Christian pacifism.
They reject most conveniences of modern technology and pharmaceuticals and maintain self-sufficiency.
Yet, despite rejecting all modern medicine and pharmaceutical drugs that the rest of the American people have access to, the Amish are among the healthiest in the nation.
According to the recent study, presented by VSRF founder Steve Kirsch to the Pennsylvania State Senate, it was calculated that for Amish children, who are strictly 100 percent unvaccinated, typical chronic conditions barely exist, if any at all.
These chronic conditions, which many vaccinated children and swaths of Americans suffer from, include auto-immune disease, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, ADHD, arthritis, cancer, and autism.
During testimony before the PA Senate last summer, expert health advocates shared details on why there have never been any reports published regarding the health of Amish children in general.
“After decades of studying the Amish, there’s no report because the report would be devastating to the narrative,” Kirsch testified.
“It would show that the CDC has been harming the public for decades and saying nothing and burying all the data.”
The experts who testified alongside Kirsch all noted that chronic conditions are soaring among the American people.
However, they concluded that these conditions are non-existent among unvaxxed Amish communities.