JANUARY 2003 — CALIFORNIA AUTISM EPIDEMIC INCREASING
|Developmental Services, in 2002 California experienced an astounding 31% one year increase in the number of new children professionally diagnosed with the most severe cases of autism entering it’s developmental services system. The 31% one year increase from 2001 to 2002 represents an all time record number of new cases in the system’s 33 year history…. 3,577 new severely autistic children added in just the past 12 months.
The figures reported by the Department DO NOT include persons with PDD, NOS, Asperger’s, or any other autism spectrum disorders, just those who have received a professional diagnosis of level one, DSM IV autism.
From 1971 to 1980, California consistently added one to two hundred new cases a YEAR. In 2002, California added 3,577 new cases. Since 1980, the documented start of California’s autism epidemic, the numbers of new cases have exploded to where we are today with California adding, on average, 10 new children a day, 7 days a week with the most severe form of autism to it’s system, an increase of over 2 additional new children per day over the 2001 rate of 8 children a day. Keep in mind that from January 1994 to January 1995, California added on average 2 new children a day…..today we are adding 10 children a day.
One only needs to examine the age distribution of the persons in the system to recognize the genesis of this epidemic. Over 81.5% (8 out of 10) of the autism population in the system were born AFTER 1980…. with 2 out of 3 persons in the system currently between the ages of 3 and 13 years old, compared to 18.5% (less then 2 out of 10) who were born BEFORE 1980.
Autism now accounts for 40% of all of the new intakes to the system, making level one autism the number one disability entering California’s DD system. (The other eligible conditions besides level one autism are mental retardation, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and other conditions similar to MR.)