All the news stories recently about this new epidemic warrant two comments on my part. One, the DSM IV-TR was released in 2000 and the bar for diagnosing autism has been lowered. A small percentage of the cases of kids diagnosed with autism, or aspergers, or “autism + ADHD” do not fit the standard criteria for these disorders, in a sense autism can become a miscellaneous bin for anyone showing slight social or communication impairment. This doesn’t apply to Amanda below; she is a true positive.
Second, there is a still controversial theory that says that maternal perinatal (around birth) stress can affect certain genetically predisposed babies adversely, resulting in higher incidence of these disorders. We can learn a lot from people like Amanda, and next time you see someone like Amanda in the grocery store or walking down the street, remember they are just as much a person as you are and have had a much tougher life.