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Autism evokes images of endlessly rocking inpatients in turn of the century mental wards, or of socially retarded savants, like Rain Man.

Autism has milder forms, too – all marked by a more or less severe introversion, and strange repetitive behaviors like spinning. In its many forms, autism is on the rise. Some researchers are starting to say it’s epidemic in America.

A special survey by the state of California found autism cases increased more than 200 per cent in the past decade. And evidence of autism clusters is gathering, as in Brick Township, New Jersey, where 4 out of every 500 kids were diagnosed, calling into question the latest gene-based thinking on the root cause of the disease.

Genetics can’t explain the ongoing explosion in autism, so now researchers are searching for environmental factors like mercury or even childhood vaccines.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Dr. Kerim Monir, Director of the Center for Autism at Children’s Hospital in Boston, and Karyn Seroussi, co-founder of the Autism Network for Dietary Intervention and author of “Unraveling the Mystery of Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder: A Mother’s Story of Research and Recovery.”