San Jose's Mercury News.com reports that a new California state study released this week shows a 12 fold or 1200% increase in classic autism, or Autistic Disorder, cases over a 20 year period. The state's general population grew by only 27% during that same period.
From 1987 to 2007, the number of people with autism receiving services at state-funded regional centers increased by nearly 1,200%, jumping from 2,701 to 34,656, according to a study by the state Department of Developmental Services.
In addition, the study focused on people with classic autism and generally excluded people with other autistic spectrum disorders, such as Asperger's syndrome and Rett's disorder.
The expansion of the DSM in 1994 to include several disorders including Aspergers Disorder and PDD-NOS is usually used by the Autism Epidemic Deniers to support their belief that changes are purely social resulting from the expanded definitions, greater services availability, greater awareness and diagnostic substitution. The focus on classic Autistic Disorder in the California is powerful evidence rebutting that argument.
The study also reports that mental retardation also grew by 95% during that time period, greater than the general population. That figue helps put to rest the argument that diagnostic substitution explains a substantial part of the increase in autism diagnoses.
Autism is rising.
Autism is rising in California.
If past performance repeats the Autism Epidemic Deniers will not be persuaded by the new California evidence.
No evidence will shake the faith of the Autism Epidemic Deniers.
Prior to the 1980s autism meant profoundly autistic, the ones with aspergers weren't counted in those figures. That is why we not have a situation where there are thousands of undiagnosed adults. As the definition widened (as your own post on separating aspergers from autism implies, as i personally agree with you), stigmas for parents reduced and general awareness in the medical profession (never known for being good at taking on board new knowledge) has increased so have the reported numbers. In several studies in the UK (I will dig these out for you if you wish - please email me at
firstname.lastname@example.org) they looked over many years specifically at lower functioning (yes yes I know, bad term) and found the numbers did not increase. It was simply that more people were willing to come forward and be diagnosed as having aspergers, the same is seen for dyslexia, ADD/ADHD and other such difficulties. If you know differently I would love to hear from you. Best regards, Mark.