Let me address Harold Doherty's claim that the recent CDC report on autism prevalence shows that 60 – 100% of children diagnosed with Autistic Disorder also have a significant intellectual disability (IQ less than 70). To put it bluntly, that claim is a ridiculous fiction, fabricated entirely by Mr. Doherty and not supported by anything in the CDC report. It is the kind of claim made by someone who either cannot read, cannot do math, or cannot handle logic. In Mr. Doherty's case, I suspect we are witnessing a combination of all three.
What the CDC report does state is that across the reporting sites where adequate data is available, 41% of all autism spectrum disorder (ASD) cases are associated with intellectual disability (with a range across the reporting sites from 29.3% to 51.2%). Mr. Doherty then leaps to the statement that if the Asperger Disorder cases were removed from the CDC study population, then this would imply that 60 – 100% of those with Autistic Disorder must have a significant intellectual disability (with great emphasis placed by Mr. Doherty on the midrange number of 80%).
It would be interesting to examine Mr. Doherty's math on that.
To keep the numbers round, let us assume that 40 out of 100 ASD cases show intellectual disability, which is consistent with the 41% number from the CDC report. Question: how many Asperger Disorder cases (no intellectual disability) would need to be removed from the study population so that the remaining population has an 80% intellectual disability rate? The answer is that 50 out of 100 would need to be removed. Mr. Doherty's math implies that around 50% of the cases in the CDC study are Asperger Disorder cases. I wonder if he really intended that.
I myself would be willing to grant Mr. Doherty his 50% Aspergers estimate, provided that either: a) the number shows up some place in the CDC report, or b) Mr. Doherty's other posts remain logically consistent with 50% of all ASD cases being Aspergers cases. Alas, neither provision holds true.
For instance, I have looked high and low, but the CDC report does not seem to indicate how many of its identified cases fall under the Aspergers classification. Maybe Mr. Doherty has read the report more carefully than I have, but my suspicion is that Mr. Doherty has not bothered to read the report at all. Figure 5 in the report does shows a group that would include the Aspergers cases, but Aspergers by itself does not seem to be broken out. What's worse, no matter how you look at Figure 5, it clearly does not support Mr. Doherty's 50% Aspergers estimate. If anything, Figure 5 indicates an Aspergers percentage much lower than 50%, a percentage so low it cannot in any way support Mr. Doherty's feeble attempt at math.
And then there is the matter of Mr. Doherty's other posts, the ones insisting quite loudly that autism is an environmental epidemic and that people with an Aspergers diagnosis, like Ari Ne'eman, are not really autistic. But if 50% of all ASD cases are Asperger Disorder (and therefore not really autism), what remains of the epidemic? Let's go ahead and apply Mr. Doherty's methodology to the CDC report itself, where we might note that if 1 in 110 children have ASD but 50% of these are Aspergers (and therefore not really autistic), then of course only 1 in 220 children really have autism. Better yet, if we forge ahead with Mr. Doherty's brand of logic, we might next compare this 1 in 220 figure to the 1 in 150 prevalence from the previous CDC report and note that the “epidemic” is now actually reversing—the “crisis” is indeed over! (Maybe it was all those environmental toxins that provided the cure everyone was looking for.) Now if perchance the preceding analysis is making your head spin, or if you feel like you have been somehow bamboozled or that I just made things up, please do not put the blame on me; remember, I am only following Mr. Doherty's logical lead.
Listen, no one is suggesting that intellectual abilities and disabilities in autism should be swept under the rug. Clearly, a significant portion of the autistic population experiences cognitive delays and difficulties, and a better understanding of this phenomenon would be helpful for all. But to concoct “facts” for the purpose of promoting a personal agenda serves no one well. I do not expect Mr. Doherty to agree with me very often, but I do expect him to be able to read, do the math, and think logically. I do not believe that is asking too much.
Of course it is possible that it is me who is incorrect; maybe it is my math, logic and reading skills that have gone awry. If so, I invite Mr. Doherty to demonstrate the error of my ways, and if he is successful, I will gladly make acknowledgment and apologize. But note that my only requirement for this demonstration is that Mr. Doherty use information straight out of the CDC report, and not straight out of his imagination.