REJECT J B HANDLEY.

My great-great-great-grandfather, William New, died six months after he emigrated to Australia with his wife and kids, of whom my great-great-grandmother was the eldest. He was in his 50th year, which was considered old in those times. What was the cause of death? I don't know. At the time he lived, you could not go to the doctor and obtain a script for antibiotics to clear up an infection in around a week, nor could you, if you had epilepsy, obtain anti-seizure medications to keep you going. The best you could hope for, later on, was mustard water.

J B Handley, in a yet to be published book, talks of ending the autism epidemic, to which I ask the question, what epidemic? Throughout history, we have had influenza pandemics, in fact, my great-great-grandmother on another side of the family died in the year of the Spanish influenza pandemic, and influenza is contagious; autism is not.

I once heard somebody say "when cigarettes weren't bad for you." Well, despite advertisements in the 1950s that more doctors smoke Camel than any other brand, cigarettes have never been good for you. And no, cigarettes haven't been causal factors in cancer, emphysema and heart disease in the past few decades, they have been all along, it is only in the past few decades that scientists have DISCOVERED this. Yes, the DDT used as an insecticide along with ammonia as a flame retardant have been implicated in numerous instances, but cigarettes have always been harmful and nicotine has always been addictive and has always been a vasoconstrictor.

So, what is the reason for this non-existent autism epidemic? Well, just like scientists discovering the link between smoking and cancer and heart disease, psychologists and psychiatrists have learnt more about autism from Kanner's narrow description and blame being laid at the feet of refrigerator mothers! Handley speaks of autistic people who have learnt they are autistic after finishing college. Well, the reason for this is, some of these people became parents and their kids have been diagnosed as autistic, so they too have been tested and surprise, surprise, they are autistic!

Just because a person attended college (and graduated) doesn't mean to say that they didn't have problems. I enjoyed the learning aspects of college, but I found the open plan layouts of some library reading rooms to be a bit distracting, especially if some came in to took to their friends. I also found the social aspects of college awkward. And let's also not forget that some people who attended college and graduated could retain and impart information they learned, but could have trouble actually putting it down on paper. For example, if you asked a history student some questions, they could recite everything from Hitler coming to power, through his territorial expansion, appeasement and the like, but if you asked them to formulate an essay, they may struggle a bit. That is not to say they shouldn't be at college (they should, but they need more support). And let's not forget that Bill Gates's path did not include sailing through with high distinctions, he struggled and did not pass his first year.

Talk of an autism epidemic is nothing more than neuro-typical folk seeking to whip up anti-autism hysteria and hatred. We have always been here, just like nicotine has in tobacco and while those who say, "Oh, my Pop started smoking at 14 and he lived to be 95," (Well, your Pop may have had good genes and been protected from cancer or heart disease) may have a point, tobacco has never been safe. Autism does not need to be cured, nor does a fictitious epidemic need to be averted.