Shawn has this somewhat unique perspective on the escalating number of cases of ASD posted on his blog Along the Spectrum: "I’ve come to the conclusion that the increasing number of people diagnosed with autism is actually a benefit to those that are diagnosed as ‘on the spectrum’."
A few other "silver lining" insights that I agree wholeheartedly with:
The changing criteria can make it look like the experts can’t make up their minds. I view the changes as a sign that our understanding of autism is evolving.
The benefits primarily come from the large number of interventions that have been developed over the past several decades.
All this is a reflection of how our understanding of autism continues to evolve. It serves to help those on the spectrum, and society at large.
Bravo. Though the challenges we face as parents or individuals with autism are sometimes daunting, attitudes like this can give us the means to exploit the "epidemic" to good end.