Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Epidemic Of Autism... Among 18-21 Year Olds

I thought it would be interesting to see what has been happening to the California DDS 18-21 cohort since 1995. So I put it into a graph.

Over the last 12 years this caseload has increased by a factor of 4.4 (or 440%). Some people might call this an epidemic. It's also interesting that in the last few years, annual caseload growth in the 18-21 cohort is roughly 20% (or about 20 times what population growth is in the state.) Contrast with the 3-5 cohort which lately has had an annual caseload growth of about 10%.

Really late onset autism anyone?


  1. Is there any way of telling what percentage of those are being diagnosed at that age, as opposed to having been diagnosed earlier and aging into the cohort?

  2. This should match up with the numbers from 92 to 94 for 3 to 5 year olds, shouldn't it?

  3. My, that's a pretty graph. It would be interesting to know what kind of diagnoses were in those young adults' charts before anyone realized they were autistic.

  4. More info...

    The number of 6-9 year olds in 1995 was 1030. The administrative prevalence of autism in that group of kids (born in the late 80s) has pretty much doubled between 1995 and 2007.

    (The 3-5 caseload in 1992 was 462, but extrapolating to 3-6 it would be 616.)

    Either half of the autistic kids in that group developed autism after the age of 6-9, or this comes to show that CDDS under-recognizes autism, even though it gets better all the time.

  5. Maybe lots of weird kids joined Aspies for Freedom and diagnosed themselves with Asperger's to help inflate the statistics. Certainly, all of the severe cases would have been identified by the age of 3.

  6. It seems to me you're having trouble explaining how CDDS misplaced over 1,000 "unmissable" autistic kids born in the late 80s, John.

    You should note that it is unlikely these kids were not registered in CDDS already.

    And it's interesting. Why would the classification be adjusted at all? What's to gain? For some kids, autism-specific services certainly. But the older you get, the less relevant a change of classification would be no doubt.

  7. I was diagnosed with Aspergers at the age of 31, so not exactly a child diagnosis. I grew up being verbal and would certaintly be considered to be high functioning overall (sorry to those who are offended by that word but I can't think of a suitable alternative). However, I was noticed as being different to the extent that there were requests by paediatricians, my dad and teachers that I be assessed. I displayed a lot of signs that back in the 1980's would probably have seen him diagnosed with some sort of PDD, though obviously I can't say which one/s. My mum did not want me in a special school, which she worried would happen. She has stated very clearly that she knew I was different but that she also knew I would be fine. I think I've been helped by not realising a lot of the time that most people would want friends, or would want a career on a par with their qualifications, so because I never tried to break away from my small sphere I am happy with a lot of myself. Those parts I'm not happy with I am very lucky to have a supportive husband to help me with.
    So why did I bother getting a diagnosis? I didn't get it to claim any benefits and whilst I have no problem with other people claiming benefits to help themselves, it is not something I intend to do for myself, I would rather the money went to those who do not have the support, or who have support and still need help. And I didn't do it to feel superior or more intelligent, there is certaintly nothing superior about trying to throw something and not being able to let go, or not being able to tell someone you're in pain, or even to realise you should be telling someone. I'm not special, or unique, or intelligent (I have intelligence in some areas, in others I score very poorly). But I am someone who posts on parenting sites and some of the children of the posters have ASDs and if I was giving advice, which I wanted to do, I wanted to make sure I was giving qualified advice and until I had the formal diagnosis I didn't think I personally could do that. Furthermore, I wanted an explanation for various things.
    It's made a lot of things clearer and has helped me understand.

  8. "But I am someone who posts on parenting sites and some of the children of the posters have ASDs"

    Aaargh, no ,no,no, I did not mean to word it like this. As someone on the spectrum I do not believe someone "has" an ASD, I believe it's part of somebody. I was thinking about something else at the time. Sorry sorry sorry.

  9. Thanks Bullet.

    What John needs to understand is that it's not sufficient for the missed children to be diagnosed late. (He's of course suggesting they weren't really autistic but are calling themselves autistic later, or are too mild or something like that.) They would've had to have sought CDDS eligibility, which again, is something they probably already had. The CDDS doesn't just accept all applicants. There are specific requirements; I think they now require that the individual have 3 different impairments in living skills.

    They don't require an "autistic disoder" diagnosis as Rick Rollens and David Kirby often claim. But it's true that many Asperger's and even some PDD-NOS kids are likely not eligible.

  10. Another factor could be that Asperger's Syndrome was not a recognized diagnosis here until 1994. This could possibly explain the upswing in the 18-21 year old age bracket.

    My daughter was formally diagnosed with Asperger's 3 years ago at the age of 19. Prior to this, she was classified within the school system (as well as her neurologist) as being "emotionally/socially delayed", with no formal title (i.e. Asperger's, ADHD, etc.) attached to the diagnosis.

    The rise in these numbers could very well be those who were in the same boat with my daughter during their earlier years.

  11. Maybe people who wanted to collect social security took acting lessons from Amanda.

  12. Take your baseless inuendo somewhere else, John.

  13. Oh grow up John, I've seen better innuendo and reasoning from my two year old son.
    For what it's worth I live in the UK, I have sod all to do with claiming any USA benefits even if I was claiming. I do not wish to claim any benfits for myself, I have no intention of claiming any benfits for myself. Neither do I need to watch somebody else, who has lived in a different culture, had different experiences and presents in quite a few different ways to know whether I'm on the spectrum or not (For the record I couldn't care aless if your pathetic snide little comment was directed at me or not).