The basic part of the job is done, pending an administrative matter, he tells me. He goes on to explain that cases entering the system are leveling off, which is not surprising.
There is a recent flattening of autism cases, but it’s not necessarily supporting evidence for the downward thimerosal-based trend for at least five reasons.
1. There was a large artificial population spike in 9/2002 due to a system fix, and all caseload records counts grew proportionally, not just autism. Geier did not adjust for that quarter’s change data.
2. There was a change in state law in 8/2003 (CA AB1762, W&IC 4512) where the requirements for DD services was increased from one substantial life-functioning deficit to three substantial deficits. This law was specifically crafted to depress autism caseload growth, and it has had a flattening effect on the higher functioning caseload’s growth, which are Autism, CP, and Epilepsy. Geier did not adjust for that effect.
3. The autism population served by DDS is self-selecting, and has not been shown a constant and direct proportion of the true incidence in the general population.
4. The growth in Autism caseload has been geographically isolated.
5. The diagnostic characteristics of the population have changed dramatically, less MR and younger age among other things.
I wasn't aware of the 2002 spike, but the drop in 2003 coincides with changes in the Lanterman Act, as explained by Interverbal. There's an increase in newly reported clients (true new cases) in 2004. In 2005 Paul appears to be saying there's a "flattening". I interpret this as the population growth leveling off. Basically, what the law changes achieved was a short-lived drop in the number of cases entering the system, but it also resulted in lower caseload growth, perhaps leading to a leveling off of the autistic population served by CDDS in upcoming years. There's no sign of a drop apparently.
In any case, the new data will show that Dr. Geier's paper is unsalvageable, containing large shifting errors. His conclusions are invalid due to the methodological flaws mentioned, such as the cofounding factors due to changes in the law. However, the fact that what he claims are "New Cases" actually are not by itself renders the paper useless.