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Saturday, January 23, 2016

Autism in California Schools

Phillip Reese writes at The Sacramento Bee:
More than 90,000 California public school students are autistic, a number that has risen more than six-fold since 2001, according to the latest data from the California Department of Education.
The figure represent a jump of about 6,000, or 7 percent, from 2013-14 to 2014-15. More than one of every 75 kindergartners in California public schools is classified as autistic.

The number of autistic students statewide has risen by between 5,000 and 7,000 every year for a decade. In 2001, there were about 14,000 autistic students in the state.
Each year since at least 2001, the number of autistic students has risen by 7 percent or more, state figures show.
Much of the change probably stems from changes in classification practices: many students with a determination of autism would in the past have had a label of intellectual disability.  From a Penn State release about nationwide study in the American Journal of Medical Genetics:

Click on the image for a high-resolution version. This graph shows the number of students (per 10,000) diagnosed with autism (blue) and intellectual disability (red) in special-education programs in the United States from 2000 to 2010. The increase in autism diagnoses during this period was offset by decreases in the diagnosis of intellectual disability, suggesting that shifting patterns of diagnosis may be responsible for increases in autism diagnosis. Credit: Penn State University