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Is autism either being more precisely identified, or simply increasing?

Autism is now appearing in 1 in 88 children according to the CDC. The question is whether or not autism in actually on the rise or is being identified sooner as a result of more precise diagnostic techniques.

I recall reading a few short years ago the notion that autism may be increasing as a result of internet dating, a means by which individuals with more milder forms of autism--and who according to the reports seem to have a higher-than-average representation in the sciences--could meet. A little bit of autism here and a little bit there and then...more autism?

However, I don't think the idea was simply that. One of the proponents of this idea (Susan Greenfield if I recall) seemed to take the position that increased internet usage (and that was a few years ago, say about five or six--online time has increased considerably since then) was actually affecting the development of the brain.

Interestingly enough, I recently read "The Shallows: What the internet is doing to our brains" by Nicholas Carr. The book is a compelling read and was a finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in general nonfiction.

Carr also wrote an article for The Atlantic Monthly titled "Is Google making us stupid?". My feeling is yes. Carr wrote that acquiring information through web documents that are extensively hyperlinked provides a disruptive effect between the temporary storage of newly learned information and the physical transfer of this information into areas of the brain that serve as long-term storage.

Basically, the constant flitting about online has the effect of overwhelming what is referred to as our working memory, thus preventing the ability of individuals to retain what they are exposed to. This in turn has a dumbing down effect because it hampers the development of schemas of organized knowledge that, ordinarily, would serve as a mental library that provides context and insight for all the information that we continually come across (and these days, that's a lot).

In short, we should expect upcoming generations of children to be better multi-taskers but with poorer attention spans, less accumulated in-depth knowledge, and, most distressingly, less insight and, perhaps, poorer judgement.

It makes me wonder how difficult things may be for teachers and parents in the coming years.

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Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

These pages provide answers to basic questions about pursuing disability benefits

My Social Security Disability SSI appeal status
Disability back pay, how it works
Eligibility criteria requirements for disability
Qualifying requirements for disability
Decision on disability case, are you eligible for a disability award
When is a Person Considered Disabled by Social Security?
Forms to appeal a Social Security Disability denial
Permanent disability benefits
How to qualify for disability with depression
If Social Security sends you to a psychiatrist
Disability denied twice
How to claim disability
How many times will Social Security deny you?
Applying for Disability with high blood pressure
Will my children get benefits if I get approved for disability?
How much time for a decision on a disability claim?
Can you work if you get an SSI disability check?
How to File for SSI
Filing for disability, how to apply for SSD, SSI
Social Security Disability SSI and Fibromyalgia
How to get disability
How to appeal a disability denial