The legend goes like this:
Sometimes, a fairy will steal away a human infant and replace it with a creature that has the superficial appearance of a human – a changeling whose fey behavior and uncanny knowledge alert the parents that something was amiss.
This pattern of a “normal” child taken by fairies reflects the development of autistic children: typical, then suddenly strange. To this day “autism parents” talk about autism stealing their children.
Could it be that autism itself isn’t actually increasing? We live in a world of crowded subways, constant noise, bright lights, and sensory discomfort around every corner. But in past centuries, none of that existed. I’m not saying it was perfect back then, but someone who today would be diagnosed with autism might find a place on a farm and seem very normal as they go about their days doing repetitive tasks others might find boring.
Autism has always existed, probably in the same numbers it does today, but disability only exists in the context of society. And look at how our modern day societies are hostile to neurodiversity. No wonder there are millions of new autism diagnoses.