Last week, author Brenda Pandos posted a blog entry entitled: 1 in 88 … how many until it’s an epidemic? While I will not quote her article here, Brenda raises the alarm about the increasing frequency of Autism in the general population. There is some suggestion that part of the problem is due to diagnosing other conditions as Autism and that may well be the case in some instances. However, even 1 case in 100 or 200 children is pretty scary when you consider that 1 case of polio in 2700 people was considered an epidemic back in the day. Have we become immune to such statistics or is it something else?
Autism is 4 times more likely to occur in boys than girls. That means that of 100 diagnosed cases, 80 of them will be boys. Would the response be greater if it were 80 girls out of 100 cases? I wonder!
Let’s consider another scary disease: Cancer. In particular, Breast Cancer and Prostate Cancer. Roughly the same number of males die from prostate cancer as women who die from breast cancer. That said, let’s look at public efforts to combat the two diseases.
It goes without saying, that Breast Cancer awareness is pretty much in your face a good part of the time. You have Susan G. Komen, races – some lasting multiple days – that involve women and a noticeable number of men, countless PSAs and commercials, pink ribbons on most everything including cars in the NASCAR Sprint Cup & Nationwide series. There’s clothing, bumper stickers, pins, etc., etc.
Now how about Prostate Cancer? Well there are a couple of commercials and that’s about it. No blue ribbons, no noticeable fund-raising events and when was the last time you heard of a 10k race to raise awareness?
The breast cancer side of the house advises – correctly – that early detection is the best way to beat the disease. As for prostate cancer, early detection is important but a study published in the British medical journal, The Lancet, reported that PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) screening produced no significant increase in the rate of survival. It would seem that the only advantage of a PSA test is being able to make out your will in a timely manner & go on that vacation you’ve dreamed about. Both diseases can leave the survivors maimed but at least with breast cancer there is the possibility of reconstructive surgery. Nothing can reconstruct what prostate surgery takes away.
When you compare the efforts against both forms of cancer with the gender disparity found in Autism, you cannot help but think that the lack of alarm is because that males are considered to be expendable. Yes, Autism Speaks garners much more notice & support that the seeming non-existent war on prostate cancer but why is that? And why are we seemingly not concerned that Autism strikes males four times as often as females?
I am 101% behind the efforts to raise awareness about breast cancer as well as funds for research towards treatment and prevention. (You go girls!) I am also thankful that Autism Speaks is doing what it can on that front even though few in power or authority seem to be concerned about the numbers. Would the concern be any greater if women died from prostate cancer and autism’s gender ratio was reversed?
Let me close with a revolutionary thought: Males are people too.