Should parents be worried? A new parent survey indicates that the number of American children with autism has doubled since 2003, to 1 in 91. The National Survey of Children’s Health, which is largely based on unconfirmed information from parents on the health of 78,000 kids, is less official than the U.S. government study of six years ago, causing a debate over how many children actually suffer from autism. If the current figures are accurate, 1.1 percent of children have some kind of autistic disorder compared to 0.57 in 2003. Regardless of the exact numbers, researchers are concerned: “The study shows that the increase in autism is real—you can’t have a genetic epidemic—there are environmental factors in play,” said Rebecca Estepp, national media manager for Talk About Curing Autism (TACA). “This is a national health crisis. … I don’t know how it hasn’t been declared a national health emergency.” (beast)
Second of all, your assumption that the sole variable causing the increase in rate of autism diagnoses is an increase in the occurrence of autism is literally laughable – even more so when the number on which you’re relying on self reporting by parents. But it (rightly) doesn’t count as a diagnosis every time I self-diagnose something with the help of Dr. Web, MD. The self reporting wasn’t confirmed with medical records, not that records would resolve the issue. Pinning down prevalence rates of autism is an impossible task and the variable rates are within the huge margin of error for this difficult measurement.
And then, there’s the whole issue of variance of diagnosis based on race and/or class issues (especially this study demonstrating that prevalence rates vary primarily by income, based on access to care), including the historic tendency to place minority kids in special education as a disciplinary measure.
So basically, SHUT UP.
(very slightly modified from original posting at think on this.)