Wealthy School Systems More Likely to Spot Autism

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]By Charnicia E. Huggins

Reuters Health – Children with signs of autism are more likely to be diagnosed with the disorder in wealthier school districts, results of a new study show.

“For some reason school districts with more resources have the ability to capture a greater percentage of autistic kids that are residing in their districts,” study author Dr. Raymond F. Palmer, of the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio, told Reuters Health.

In light of this finding, “it is important to consider providing resources to poorer districts and economically disadvantaged communities to help them identify children with ASDs (autistic spectrum disorders) and other developmental delays that require attention,” write Palmer and his
colleagues in the American Journal of Public Health.

Through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, children with
ASDs are eligible for special education services such as one-on-one
instruction and behavioral interventions, from birth to 21 years old. Yet,
up to 80 percent of children with an autistic spectrum disorder are not
diagnosed until school age, studies show.

In the current study, Palmer and his team investigated the effect of
community and school district resources on the identification of children
with autism.

They looked at 1,040 school districts in Texas, representing
approximately 4 million kindergartners through twelfth graders, from the
1994-1995 though the 2000-2001 school year.

In 1994-1995, 2.5 out of every 10,000 children, on average, were
identified as having autistic disorder. This rate increased by about one
child per 10,000 per year, the report indicates.

Revenue in the school districts ranged from $100,000 to $966.7
million, with the average being $17.4 million.

School districts with the highest revenues showed a three-fold
increase in their rates of identification of children with autistic
disorder, similar to the increasing rates of autism identified throughout
the nation, Palmer and his team report.

“This disorder is exponentially increasing over time,” said Palmer,
who describes the phenomenon as an “epidemic.”

Yet, districts with the lowest revenues showed little change in their
rate of identification during the study period, Palmer and his team report.
By the end of the study period, for example, 21 out of every 10,000 children
in the highest revenue districts were diagnosed with autism, compared with
3.5 per 10,000 children in the lowest revenue districts.

“Is there really less kids with autism in (poorer districts)?” Palmer
asked. “I would think not.”

Citing the importance of the “parental push factor,” Palmer said that
parents in wealthier districts may be better educated and more assertive and
may push for the resources their child needs. On the other hand, even if
children in poorer districts are identified and diagnosed with autism, the
lack of resources may force schools to “scramble” to provide even sub-par
services, he said.

SOURCE: American Journal of Public Health, January 2005.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]By Charnicia E. Huggins

Reuters Health – Children with signs of autism are more likely to be diagnosed with the disorder in wealthier school districts, results of a new study show.

“For some reason school districts with more resources have the ability to capture a greater percentage of autistic kids that are residing in their districts,” study author Dr. Raymond F. Palmer, of the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio, told Reuters Health.

In light of this finding, “it is important to consider providing resources to poorer districts and economically disadvantaged communities to help them identify children with ASDs (autistic spectrum disorders) and other developmental delays that require attention,” write Palmer and his
colleagues in the American Journal of Public Health.

Through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, children with
ASDs are eligible for special education services such as one-on-one
instruction and behavioral interventions, from birth to 21 years old. Yet,
up to 80 percent of children with an autistic spectrum disorder are not
diagnosed until school age, studies show.

In the current study, Palmer and his team investigated the effect of
community and school district resources on the identification of children
with autism.

They looked at 1,040 school districts in Texas, representing
approximately 4 million kindergartners through twelfth graders, from the
1994-1995 though the 2000-2001 school year.

In 1994-1995, 2.5 out of every 10,000 children, on average, were
identified as having autistic disorder. This rate increased by about one
child per 10,000 per year, the report indicates.

Revenue in the school districts ranged from $100,000 to $966.7
million, with the average being $17.4 million.

School districts with the highest revenues showed a three-fold
increase in their rates of identification of children with autistic
disorder, similar to the increasing rates of autism identified throughout
the nation, Palmer and his team report.

“This disorder is exponentially increasing over time,” said Palmer,
who describes the phenomenon as an “epidemic.”

Yet, districts with the lowest revenues showed little change in their
rate of identification during the study period, Palmer and his team report.
By the end of the study period, for example, 21 out of every 10,000 children
in the highest revenue districts were diagnosed with autism, compared with
3.5 per 10,000 children in the lowest revenue districts.

“Is there really less kids with autism in (poorer districts)?” Palmer
asked. “I would think not.”

Citing the importance of the “parental push factor,” Palmer said that
parents in wealthier districts may be better educated and more assertive and
may push for the resources their child needs. On the other hand, even if
children in poorer districts are identified and diagnosed with autism, the
lack of resources may force schools to “scramble” to provide even sub-par
services, he said.

SOURCE: American Journal of Public Health, January 2005.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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